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REINVENTING PINK FLOYD NEW BOOK TRACES BAND'S HISTORIC RISE TO SUPERSTARDOM

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REINVENTING PINK FLOYD NEW BOOK TRACES BAND'S HISTORIC RISE TO SUPERSTARDOM

By Howard T. Brody

For many fans of the band Pink Floyd, 1973's "The Dark Side of the Moon" was the defining album for the English rockers. After "Dark Side," the band would go on to produce seven more studio albums – including 1979's "The Wall" and 2014's "The Endless River" – and solidify their place in pop culture as music icons.

What a lot of fans don’t realize is that “Dark Side” wasn’t Pink Floyd’s first album, but its eighth, and before its release, the group was just another British band searching for an identity and sound that would set it apart from all others.

Pink Floyd was formed in 1965 by four college students in London with Syd Barrett on guitar and lead vocals, Roger Waters on bass and vocals, Richard Wright on keyboards and vocals and Nick Mason on drums. In December 1967, guitarist and vocalist David Gilmour joined the band.

When Barrett left Pink Floyd four months later due to deteriorating mental health, it could have spelled disaster for the band. Instead, the remaining members of Pink Floyd pulled together 

and continued on a new path, and when “Dark Side” was released in early 1973, it catapulted them to superstardom, showcasing their now fully developed, influential and iconic sound.

In the new book Reinventing Pink Floyd: From Syd Barrett to The Dark Side of the Moon by veteran music journalist Bill Kopp and published by Rowman & Littlefield, the band’s five-year period from Barrett’s departure through 1973 is explored. The 221-page book traces the winding creative path Pink Floyd took after losing its leader, culminating with the making of one of the most popular albums in rock history.

As the book illustrates, that path was filled with failed experiments, creative blind alleys, one-off musical excursions, outside collaborations and – most importantly – a dedicated search for a distinctive musical personality.

With Syd Barrett passing in 2006 and Richard Wright in 2008, and the surviving members either being unavailable or failing to respond to inquiries. Unfortunately, none of the band members were interviewed for the book.

However, Kopp draws upon relevant quotes and commentary from long-unseen reviews of and interviews with the band and utilizes more than a dozen new, first-hand interviews.

Those interviewed include the band’s original manager Peter Jenner, guitarist Steve Howe from Yes, guitarist David O’List from The Nice, singer/songwriter Robert Hitchcock, as well as collaborators and other musicians connected to Pink Floyd’s early years and work.

Using these elements, Kopp paints a literary picture of the band, doing an in-depth exploration of the music they made in the years between Barrett's departure and the making of "The Dark Side of the Moon" and providing an analysis of their development as creators of film soundtracks and how that work informed Pink Floyd's own albums.

The idea to dive deep into Pink Floyd’s formative years didn’t take place overnight. The concept had been formulating in Kopp’s head for years. “One of the first professional writing gigs I had was doing a complete survey of all of Pink Floyd’s albums from start to finish for Trouser Press,” Kopp recalled. Trouser Press was a popular rock and roll magazine from 1974 to 1984. After ceasing magazine publication they began publishing books and years later had an online presence. “In 2001, maybe 2002, I wrote a piece on Pink Floyd for them,” he explained. “So that was the beginning of the idea.”

But it did not take Bill Kopp 17 years to write the book. As a matter of fact, during the entire time between the spark of the idea and sitting down to write it, there was no research done nor were any notes written. “How long did it actually take? From getting the contract to turning in a manuscript – three and a half months.”

Kopp hopes “Reinventing Pink Floyd” will captivate not only hardcore Pink Floyd devotees but also casual fans of rock music as well.  

The author is a lifelong music enthusiast, musician, collector and – since the 1990s – music journalist. Kopp’s writing has been featured in a number of music magazines (including “Bass Guitar,” “Billboard” and “Electronic Musician”), as well as more than a dozen alternative weekly newspapers. 

He has interviewed several hundred musicians and music industry figures of note, and his musoscribe.com blog has featured new content – thousands of music reviews, essays, interviews and features – every business day since 2009.

Kopp is also the jazz desk editor and progressive rock editor at BLURT online and has written liner note essays for 23 albums, including titles by Julian “Cannonball” Adderley, Larry Coryell, Ben Folds, Iron Butterfly, Dave Mason, The Ventures, Rick Wakeman and Edgar Winter.

To order an autographed copy of Reinventing Pink Floyd directly from the author, readers can visit reinventingpinkfloyd.com.

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