Personalities | Introducing Pink Floyd
Back in June 2003 I had the rare pleasure of interviewing Nick Mason face-to-face for what proved to be an abortive feature for the Financial Times. The interview was conducted at his Ten Tenths offices in Kings Cross, London, and as I waited to be ushered into his presence, I took time to admire one of his original double bass-drum kits – with ‘Pink’ on one and ‘Floyd’ on the other – that stood proudly in reception.
Ironically, rather than Floyd, the interview concerned his love affair with high-octane performance cars and he talked with passion and enthusiasm about the thrill of motor racing. When all was spoken and done he took me on a guided tour through his personal forecourt of around 40 rare and beautiful machines that included a Trabant! ‘Do you know anyone who might want to buy it?’ he asked. As a Pink Floyd fan I thought of stumping up the cash myself. To own a car that was once owned by Nick Mason was tempting, although in the back of my mind I knew that my wife would kill me. A Trabant might be suitable for a U2 photo opportunity but there was not enough room in the back for the kids….
The maddening thing about interviewing Mason about cars and motor racing was that I was desperate to ask him about Pink Floyd. I was a rabid fan of their early music and despite the fact that The Dark Side Of The Moon has sold over 30 million copies, the album represented to me breathtaking risk as well as musical purity. Sadly, the closest we got to the flame was a story of David Gilmour and he buying Ferraris in Italy and racing them back to England. It was ironic that in the flesh although Mason looked like a man more suited to making calculated decisions in a multinational boardroom (is anything less multinational than Pink Floyd?) he adored flying around corners at punishing speeds and taking instinctive risks in cars worth hundred of thousands of pounds. Of course, his career had also been conducted at high speed, where instinctive risks had started in 1966 with a bare chassis called Pink Floyd that ended up making him millions of pounds, enabling him to indulge his passion for speed.
That, in essence, is the appeal of Pink Floyd. Despite the millions of records, CDs, DVDs and concert tickets sold, they were always true to their music: from their early days under Syd Barrett to the Waters’-dominated multimedia rainfall of The Wall. Of all of the psychedelic bands of the Sixties, Pink Floyd were simply the best. There is no point in splitting hairs and making comparisons as, despite Barrett writing two astounding pop hits in ‘Arnold Layne’ and ‘See Emily Play’, this was just a tip of a musical iceberg that extended below the waterline where the band would delight a hip crowd through extended improvisation. What other major artists...
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