A Walk On The Dark Side With Nick Mason

Pink Floyd founding member discusses classic albums such as The Dark Side Of The Moon and The Wall at the GRAMMY Museum
  • Photo: Mark Sullivan/WireImage.com
    Nick Mason
December 13, 2011 -- 3:44 pm PST

Pink Floyd founding member Nick Mason was the featured guest for a recent installment of the GRAMMY Museum's An Evening With series. In an intimate interview setting, Mason discussed Pink Floyd's unique sound, classic albums such as The Dark Side Of The Moon, Wish You Were Here and The Wall, and EMI Music's recent Pink Floyd collectors' box set releases.

"We knew we'd made the best record, so far," said Mason regarding The Dark Side Of The Moon. "We were conscious of the fact that this was a step forward. It was much more sophisticated."

Formed in 1965 in London, Pink Floyd originally consisted of drummer Mason, lead guitarist/vocalist Syd Barrett, bassist Roger Waters, and Rick Wright. The band applied an experimental approach to their music, incorporating instrumental flurries, feedback and various sound effects within a psychedelic rock framework. Pink Floyd's debut album, The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn, was released in 1967. Prior to their sophomore effort, 1968's A Saucerful Of Secrets, Barrett departed the band, with guitarist David Gilmour replacing him. Released in 1972, Obscured By Clouds was Pink Floyd's first album to crack the Top 50 on the Billboard 200. As the band continued to polish their sound, in 1973 they released an ambitious concept album, The Dark Side Of The Moon. The album addressed themes of conflict, death, time, and insanity, with each side of the album spanning a continuous piece of music. The Dark Side Of The Moon hit No. 1 on the Billboard 200, and ultimately remained on the chart for a record 741 weeks. Featuring the hit "Money," which reached No. 13 on the Billboard Hot 100, the album has sold more than 15 million copies in the United States.

The band's follow-up, 1975's Wish You Were Here, also topped the Billboard 200. Containing just five songs, the album's themes center around the corruption of the music industry and the mental illness of former bandmate Barrett. Following 1977's Animals, which reached No. 3 on the Billboard 200, in 1979 Pink Floyd released their most commercially successful album of all time, The Wall. Produced by Bob Ezrin, the double album was masterminded by Waters and weaves themes of isolation and abandonment. The Wall became the band's third chart-topping album, was nominated for Album Of The Year at the 23rd GRAMMY Awards in 1980 and spawned the No. 1 hit "Another Brick In The Wall, Pt. 2." The Wall has sold more than 23 million copies in the United States.

Pink Floyd dissolved following 1983's The Final Cut, with band members pursuing solo projects. Gilmour, Mason and Wright convened to reform Pink Floyd, resulting in 1987's A Momentary Lapse Of Reason. The album was recorded without Waters, who had sought an injunction against the trio for utilizing the Pink Floyd name, but lost the case. Pink Floyd won the lone GRAMMY of their career in 1994 for Best Rock Instrumental Performance for "Marooned," a song from their second studio album without Waters, the chart-topping The Division Bell. In 1995 Pink Floyd scored their fifth No. 1 album with Pulse, a double live album featuring The Dark Side Of The Moon performed in its entirety.

The Dark Side Of The Moon and The Wall were inducted into the GRAMMY Hall Of Fame in 1999 and 2008, respectively. In July 2005 Waters teamed with Gilmour, Mason and Wright for a one-off Pink Floyd reunion at Live 8 in London. Barrett died in 2006, and Wright died in 2008. Waters has toured in recent years, featuring a new band playing Pink Floyd favorites. His most recent tour placed fourth on Billboard's list of top 2011 tours with gross revenue of nearly $150 million.

Pink Floyd ranks seventh on RIAA's list of top-selling artists, with 74.5 million albums sold. EMI Music recently released a Pink Floyd "Discovery" box set, a collection culling remastered versions of the band's original 14 studio albums, in addition to collectors' box sets for The Dark Side Of The Moon and Wish You Were Here. A similar box set for The Wall is scheduled to be released in February.

Upcoming GRAMMY Museum events include Woody Guthrie Centennial Celebration (Jan. 18).

For more information on the GRAMMY Museum, visit www.grammymuseum.org.

Click on the "GRAMMY Museum events" tag below for links to other GRAMMY News stories in this series.

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