Monday, April 5, 2010

"It would be so nice..."

" meet sometime."

Shades Of Pink #01

The musical foundation of Space Pirate Radio would be The Beatles and Pink Floyd. Pink Floyd especially was responsible for inspiring the core of international artists that would be the staple of the radio show for years to come. It would be Pink Floyd that would inspire the German artists that I wanted to share with US audiences. Tangerine Dream, Ash Ra Tempel, Amon Duul II (who would also incorporate the elements of Jefferson Airplane and Frank Zappa), Can, Kraftwerk and so many others, would all admittedly or not site Pink Floyd as their inspiration.

I'm old enough to have heard Pink Floyd from their debut. The days when they were The Pink Floyd and their albums were released on Capitol Records' B-list label, Tower Records. I loved "Piper At The Gates Of Dawn" and "Saucerful Of Secrets," but it was "Ummagumma" that opened the door to more outrageous possibilities. "Several Species Of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together In A Cave And Grooving With A Pict" continued the mix of sound and theatre, opening the imagination.

So Space Pirate Radio has been on the air for over a year and I feel it's time that I meet the Floyd. It is April 23, 1975 and I am backstage at the Los Angeles Sports Arena for the first of five nights that the Floyd are performing. They are at their peak artistically at this moment. As usual, they have performed their new material for the first half of the show, which in this case is "Gotta Be Crazy," "Raving And Drooling," as well as "Shine On You Crazy Diamond." This will be followed by "Dark Side Of The Moon" at the height of its freshness and will wrap up with "Echoes" from "Meddle." The new material is exciting and I will be later disappointed not to find "Raving And Drooling" and "Gotta Be Crazy" on their next album. As I will find out when I talk to them, they are touring the US while in half completion of their follow-up to "Dark Side Of The Moon." Those first songs will show up later, retitled and re-lyriced on "Animals."

Meanwhile, backstage, radio boy is now fanboy somewhere in the bowels of the Sports Arena. I am wearing a shocking red, unauthorized "Dark Side Of The Moon" Floyd shirt that I ordered from an issue of Creem magazine. These are the days before heavy merchandising and true believers would look anywhere for evocative clothing featuring their arcane idols. Roger Waters doesn't seem offended by my apparel and in his tallness, offers me a glass a wine. He is friendly and receptive and only marginally ironic. I ask him if he has seen Syd and he says "no." Then, bending down to me, putting nose to nose, he says "he's mad, you know." Ironically, when they return to recording after this tour, they will see Syd making an appearance in studio, almost ghost-like.

I chat to all four members of the Floyd, but notice that there is never more than one together. The distances that will destroy the band seem to be falling in place. David Gilmour is cordial but somewhere else. He will be more accessible when he is away from the band. I find Richard Wright to be delightful. Despite his personal problems in his life, he seems to carry on the spirit of awe and discovery in the band from the old Syd days. Nick Mason is the most attentive member. He is appreciative of my awareness of his other musical projects. Obscure artists like Principal Edwards, which he produced, Nick is surprised that I play it regularly on my show. This and his work with Robert Wyatt, as well as his association with artists Steve Hillage and Gong--artists from the early days at London's UFO club.

Our paths will cross again in the future, but I will still remember the contradiction of sipping chardonnay and talking music and art with these gentlemen who inspired my career, while outside music goers are being roughed up by the Los Angeles Police Department. The violence has subsided and I leave the Sports Arena seeing the spotlights outside pointed upwards, encircling the full moon. Very dreamlike. And I will return tomorrow to see what the next bit is.