Personalities | Pink Floyd | The Barrett-Led Era (1966) | Key Events
First Gig, London
The Pink Floyd Sound made their London debut at the Countdown Club in late 1965 and were paid £15 for their trouble. Their first London gig in 1966 took place at the Goings On Club on 9 January 1966. Like hundreds of other semi-professional bands around the country, Syd Barrett (guitar/vocals), Roger Waters (bass/vocals), Nick Mason (drums) and Richard Wright (organ) inflicted R&B covers like ‘Louie Louie’, ‘Road Runner’ and ‘I’m A King Bee’ upon a small audience. On jaunts around venues in Cambridge and London they occasionally shared bills with Joker’s Wild featuring Barrett’s friend Dave Gilmour (guitar).
In February 1966, enthusiastic American organizer Steve Stollman began to promote a series of events at the Marquee Club in London, eventually under the banner of ‘Spontaneous Underground’. Cream lyricist Pete Brown performed conjuring tricks as one of the attractions. In March Pink Floyd secured a residency and, legend has it, did not have enough material to play the contracted length and so began to extend songs by improvisation and musical experimentation. Interested fans included individuals like John ‘Hoppy’ Hopkins and Barry Miles (founder of Indica Gallery) who would shortly become instrumental in establishing the vibrant London Underground scene.
London Free School
During a series of fundraising dates at the London Free School’s Sound and Light Workshop at All Saints Hall in Notting Hill Gate, Pink Floyd not only answered audience questions but were accompanied as they played by an American couple named Joel and Toni Brown who brought down a slide projector and put on a rudimentary light show. Already fascinated by the possibilities of combining visual arts with music, Pink Floyd began to add projectors and rudimentary lighting effects to their own concerts. Musically, the band had dropped covers in favour of self-penned songs and improvisations that were billed as ‘space-age’.
All-Night Rave At The Roundhouse
John ‘Hoppy’ Hopkins and Barry Miles collaborated in establishing underground newspaper International Times. The launch party was held at The Roundhouse in Chalk Farm, London, on 15 October 1966. Two thousand guests, including Paul McCartney were entertained by music by The Soft Machine and Pink Floyd who had spotlights flashed on them in time to Nick Mason’s drumbeats as they played extended tracks like ‘Interstellar Overdrive’ at such volume that the power failed. ‘We find our audiences stop dancing now,’ Roger Waters told a journalist from The Sunday Times, ‘We tend to get them standing there, totally grooved with their mouths open.’
Sign With Jenner And King
Although gaining in sonic confidence the band’s business arrangements for securing work were haphazard. This changed in the late summer of 1966 when the four members of Floyd formed a partnership called Blackhill Enterprises with lecturer Peter Jenner and his friend Andrew King. As managers, Jenner and King bought £1,000 worth of new equipment for the band, which was quickly stolen. Nick Mason’s mother stepped...
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