Earlier this year we posted a review entitled Reinventing Pink Floyd: From Syd Barrett To The Dark Side Of The Moon Book Review By AFG Correspondent Julie Skaggs, Following on from the review Julie has very admirably managed to secure an exclusive interview with the author of this fabulous book Mr Bill Kopp
Our sincere thanks go out to Julie Skaggs for conducting the interview.
I thoroughly enjoyed Bill Kopp’s new book Reinventing Pink Floyd and was grateful to get a chance to speak to him fan-to-fan on behalf of AFG regarding the process of writing it and the journey he undertook via a close examination of the music of Floyd’s transitional period. As he notes in our exchange, Bill conducts over a hundred interviews a year for various music publications as well as his website Musoscribe and possesses a thoroughly professional and insightful view of rock music and the people who create it. And also my thanks to Bill for his closing comment to me that this was the most enjoyable interview he had experienced overall in the publicity cycle for the book.
I thought it would be best to begin by discussing how you became a Pink Floyd fan, which I’m assuming coincided with the initial popularity of Dark Side. That’s the impression I got from your introduction.
Yeah, that’s about the size of it. The music was everywhere when I was a kid, I was intrigued by the album covers and then hearing the music. When I was a kid and first started buying albums, I used to have a rule: I had to like at least three songs on a record before I would buy it. And Dark Side of the Moon, certainly, there were three or four that I had heard on the radio and thought, “Wow, this is really good, I’d like to hear the rest of it.” So yeah, I fell in love with their music early on.
How would you characterize the perspective of your particular book? And I ask this because it seems to be about more than just an examination of the transitional period from a primarily musical viewpoint. I know that’s how you express it, that you’re providing something that really hasn’t been done in-depth previously, but it seems like it’s about more than just that.
I think for a lot of people – not to over-generalize – but to people who discovered the band around the time of The Wall, or even, say, Animals, or even Wish You Were Here, I think to a lot of those listeners they might have rightly developed the perspective that The Wall was largely Roger Waters’ vehicle, and in a lot of ways it really really was. And then if you go way way way back to the very beginning, back to ‘67 with the Piper at the Gates of Dawn, a strong case could be made that at that point it was Syd Barrett’s band: he was the face of the band, he was almost the sole songwriter, he was the guiding force of the band. To me, the period in between – from ‘68 until through Dark Side of the Moon – to my way of thinking it was more of a collaborative band. Maybe not four exact equals in terms of their influence and standing within the group but they seemed to have more of a collaborative band approach to things, and for me there’s a real appeal in that. Not to take a single thing away from the work they did post-Dark Side of the Moon but to me it’s inconceivable that any of that could have come about had they not had the foundation of those formative years in which they were really working together.
Right; I believe that moving into a collaborative situation is one of the defining characteristics of the transitional period.
If you were to name some of the core values of how they became who they were that’s definitely one of them to me, so I totally agree with that.
So what did you learn about yourself as a fan in the process of writing your book?
I learned that although I wouldn’t have necessarily ever called – and still wouldn’t call – myself any sort of a scholarly authority on the band, I felt like I knew a whole lot about them. The deeper that I dug into especially this period, and even though it’s a period that has long been really my favorite of the band, I found that there was a lot of just new subtle ineffable sort of things that revealed themselves. Now if you were to ask me to point out – “Well what, for example?” – I’m not sure I could tell you! (laughs) There were definitely things that I just discovered about the music. Again, not to belabor the point, but the collaborative nature of it. I had a really serendipitous experience which was totally coincidental. A good friend of mine here in Asheville, North Carolina where I live decided in the spring of 2017 to put together to a tribute to Pink Floyd – a one-off concert – and he enlisted the help of between 15-20 local musicians and put together an evening’s worth of music. And it so happened that the period that was concentrated on was only pre-Dark Side of the Moon, and he asked me to participate, I played keyboards. So he asked me to take part in it, not knowing anything about the book, because I didn’t have the book deal when he came up with the idea. I was still waiting to hear from my publisher whether or not they were going to go for it. The experience of getting together with these different collectives of musicians – depending on the song there might be five of us, or nine of us, or eleven of us – and really not only digging into the keyboards parts of the songs but being in a room and seeing the other musicians sort of sort out their parts made me realize just how rich and deeply textured this music is.
I think that usually interacting with the music on another level – as you were doing, from that example – does give you a different perspective on probably not only why you enjoy something, but also why you have an appreciation for it. I see those as two different concerns.
So in relation to that, as you interviewed members of various Pink Floyd tribute bands – which is a big cottage industry in and of itself – what do you feel was the most interesting aspect regarding their perspective as both fans and musicians?
I think part of it was that several of them had a very similar entry point into the band’s music and a similar experience. They would get into the band at a certain point, for most of them it was Dark Side of the Moon and for some of them it was The Wall. And then they would discover this music and just be completely knocked out. It seemed that – and again, these are obviously pretty serious Pink Floyd fans – once they would discover it, it hit them in a way that maybe the music of other artists hadn’t and then what they were able to do, because in all the cases when they discovered Pink Floyd the band was still functioning, so at once they would go back in the band’s catalog and discover all the stuff they had done before that and in the meantime the band was going forward so there were still new albums to come out after that. So they sort of discovered the band in two not-quite parallel tracks but they were working their way through the back catalog and discovering that music while hearing new stuff coming out from the band.
Given that there are so many books about Pink Floyd available – this is a topic you address in the introduction – what do you feel is crucial about how the way you interrogate the material that hasn’t previously been offered?
What I didn’t really do was delve too much into the extra-musical context: talking about how the various members got along, I didn’t talk about the Pink Floyd football club, and in great detail I didn’t focus on Syd Barrett’s mental illness and drug use other than to the extent that it was really relevant to charting their musical path. For me it was important to really drill down and focus on the transition and the depth of the music that they did in that point. And again, with the benefit of hindsight, the fact that everything they did in those intervening years can be seen as a step forward – even the things that didn’t work out – on the path to making Dark Side of the Moon. All of their filmwork, and people know about a lot of that, but your average Pink Floyd fan doesn’t know anything about The Committee, likely, and they probably don’t know about Speak, just these various sort of obscure little things that almost seem like footnotes, but when you spend some time with them you can realize, hey there are seeds in these projects of things that they did later. And I do mention this in the book – that from my perspective if they did something and it was successful, they took the good things from that and carried those forward in their future work, and if they did something that was a failure they learned from that as well. So in retrospect even though the band has more or less collectively disowned certain things like Atom Heart Mother, every one of those things is really really important to the development of the band. And I think anyone who isn’t familiar with the transitional period but who loves, say, the track “Wish You Were Here” or “Young Lust” or whatever – anything from the later stuff, there’s a lot that they would appreciate and enjoy in that early material and so my hope with the book is to encourage people to dig into that and discover it because there’s a lot there to be discovered.
Right, there are some obvious parallels – since you brought up “Young Lust” – it’s, like, you know, ‘Hello,“Nile Song!”’ (laughs)
The only other book which can be said to have the same scope as Reinventing Pink Floyd is Barry Miles’ The Early Years book, which was published in 2006, and I know that’s one of your sources. Although it examines the band from more of a cultural history/biographical perspective, but it literally starts with the history of how the band formed, and then goes all the way up to the release and reception of Dark Side. So how helpful did you find that particular source in terms of what you were trying to achieve? Was it prioritized above other particular sources or was it just one of many?
With all due respect to Miles, I only drew on a couple – and I’d have to go back and look at my manuscript – there were a couple of quotes that I took from the book, mainly because they just supported ideas that I really wanted to get across. Beyond that it was not a primary resource at all.
I’ll tell you one book that did stay on my desk nearly the entire time was Glenn Povey’s Echoes. Mainly because his meticulous research was very very important to make sure that I kept the dates and chronology straight. I’m sitting here – you know, if you write a couple paragraphs about how something happened leading to something else, and then you go, ‘Oh gosh, no no no, that happened before that happened!’ you know, but referring to his book kept those sort of things, I hope, from happening.
And that’s his particular niche in fandom, he’s a chronologer – that’s how I refer to him.
Yes, exactly right.
In addition to your book there are a couple others that are out right now which are reviewing the entire discography of Pink Floyd. And I would say that is thanks to the release of The Early Years box set. Do you believe that the box set is inviting fans – and you’re hoping your book does this – do you think the release of the box set is providing that same impetus, inviting fans to develop an appreciation for that transitional period which may have been lacking previously?
I would say because of its’ prohibitive cost, the box set isn’t encouraging that but the individual editions are.
Right, and the fact that they’re on digital distribution as well.
You’re absolutely right. So yeah, I definitely think so because I know as a Pink Floyd evangelist, so to speak, I’ve long-preached to people, “Oh you know, you’ve got to hear the long version of “Embryo” that’s on the bootlegs. And you’ve gotta hear -” For me, some of the most enjoyable stuff from their catalog is when they would do the extended set pieces of “Green Is The Colour” and “Cymbeline” and those sort of things, and unless you were a bootleg fiend, it wasn’t really easy – of course with YouTube a lot of that stuff is on there now – but that stuff didn’t sort of lend itself to being found easily until the last few years and now with some of that coming out on the box set I think that makes it a whole lot easier to just listen to that and go, “Oh wow, that’s kind of interesting!” and it really does help paint kind of a straight line through the career towards the work they did later.
Now, since you brought up bootlegs – you wrote about certain performances of the band’s nascent works which would not receive authorized release prior to The Early Years box set such as “The Man and The Journey” “Embryo” and “Eclipse” – did you have any desire to chronicle the development of Floyd from the performance side of things for the book or was your focus always primarily on the albums?
It was primarily on the albums, but the very very very first book idea that I had some twenty years ago which I still haven’t done anything with – it was too big of an idea, really – was to kind of chronicle the rock n’roll era from the perspective of unreleased recordings. So, the perspective of live performance, of listening to live performance via bootlegs, is something that’s always intrigued me.
Having read a draft copy of the book I missed out on all the accompanying photographs and such, so what can you tell us about how the book will look from a visual perspective?
Well I’ll just back up and say actually there aren’t any photographs other than the cover, of which there’s a little bit of a backstory. The cover is kind of cool, but it’s a hardcover book and once you get inside it’s all text. I toyed around with the idea of including some photos, obviously there are financial considerations to doing that, there’s licensing fees and things like that. I did get in touch with some fans to see what kind of, you know – “Hey does anybody have any snapshots that they took of seeing Pink Floyd at The Warehouse in New Orleans?” for example. In the end I didn’t come up with enough material that was in good enough quality that hadn’t been seen many times before to really warrant it, so I decided to just stick with the text.
Was your concept for the book – you came up with that before the release of The Early Years box set?
That’s correct. And then I thought, “Oh wow, that’s serendipity.” I knew nothing about it.
Since you note that a friend of yours lent you his copy so that you could use it for your research, how did being presented with this comprehensive release impact the focus of your concept as well as the scope of the writing?
Well it filled in a lot of blanks. I think the nature of the book would have been a little bit different had I not had The Early Years box set to reference. It still would have focused primarily on the studio albums and I think that the other perspective that I would have brought to it would have been a deeper exploration into the bootleg side of things. Having access to a number of new studio, or at least high-quality recordings, made a big big big difference.
Right, for the purposes of analyzing the material, I can see having the best sources possible of course makes it that much easier.
There are a few comments throughout your book from various sources regarding the crucial turning points for transformation in terms of the band’s direction as well as methodology and mode, but if you could distill it down to one event, what would you choose? Or would you say it’s impossible to choose just one?
Oh, well the lazy answer is that it’s impossible to choose. (laughs) You know, I would say “The Man and The Journey,” actually. If you ask me again tomorrow I’d probably give you a different answer but I think I could make a credible case for “The Man and The Journey” because “The Man and The Journey” as you know was basically assembled from pre-existing pieces. They took a whole bunch of stuff that they had going all the way back to the first album and constructed those pieces into a “narrative” although there’s no real narrative to “The Man” or to “The Journey” but they are sort of linear sonic experiences the way that they were put together. And in the same way The Dark Side of the Moon is sort of the product of that kind of thing. There are various elements that had existed in different forms, you know, Wright’s piece from Zabriskie Point and Roger Waters’ bass line from “Moonhead,” and just different things like that that sort of came together. So I think that in a lot of ways one can see “The Man and The Journey” as a kind of a prototype for the work that they would do later.
I would definitely note it as one of the major conceptual evolutions that they made in the process of trying to discover who they wanted to be. So I give you a thumbs up for that one.
Well good! “Echoes” is sort of the easier one, but that’s an argument that’s already been made plenty of times.
When you interviewed Craig Bailey, it seems that he pointed to “Echoes” as a game-changer and yeah, that’s an oft-stated sentiment among fans. I would say that “Echoes” is a game-changer indeed but I think it was more of one for their audience than it was for them.
Because they wrote it and created it in that same mosaic style as you noted they did for “The Man and The Journey” so it was just another expression of that particular methodology but one which definitely connected with fans and probably grew their audience somewhat prior to Dark Side.
Fans like to speculate regarding what Pink Floyd would have become had Syd Barrett been able to continue on with full faculties, as it were. So do you have your own theory about that particular discussion point?
Well I’ve given that some thought in terms of, you know, had they continued with Syd, there are just so many what-ifs in that construct to unpack. But if we assume for the sake of argument that he had somehow maintained his faculties…I’ve got kind of a multi-part answer for that, but I’m not sure that they would have continued long-term. Because – and again this is pure speculation and it’s not really based on anything other than just a gut feeling – the fact of the matter is that Syd quit making music but continued in his artistic pursuits with painting for many many years thereafter. I don’t want to project my ideas upon him, but I can’t help but wonder if perhaps he had decided that getting across the ideas that he had could be done more effectively through a visual medium, through painting, than through music. So I guess what I’m saying is I’m not sure if that he might not have just lost interest, eventually, and left. Of course, again, there’s no way to know. If we assume for the sake of argument not only that he maintained his faculties but also his interest in music, honestly – well, it goes without saying they wouldn’t have become the band that they did. I don’t think they would have been as interesting, honestly, and I say that as a Syd Barrett fan. I don’t think they would have been – there wasn’t a lot, I think, in Barrett’s direction that suggested a path that would have been anything at all like the one that they eventually followed. Even though his work certainly influenced the direction that they went, but I think they took that influence and then distilled it through their own collective sensibility and went somewhere they could have never gone with him.
Right, and I tend to think of Syd as a thoroughly idiosyncratic type of artist. In that, yeah, he was a painter who just happened to also be a musician for a period of time. He doesn’t think like a “normal” musician would, and that was part of what did make them interesting as they developed beyond their early gigging period. It’s interesting when you listen to that 1965 EP, which is pretty typical of the time, even though it’s very quirky, it sounds very much of its’ time. When they played gigs they weren’t really “together” but people were still interested in them despite that. It seems like they had a concept, and they were trying to do something people weren’t before, and then you move on to Piper which is another leap. It’s hard to say whether or not they would have been able to make another leap into something even more interesting. It’s a confluence of a lot of different elements.
One of the things, ironic or not, the fact that they named the band after some Delta and Piedmont bluesmen who were, in the sort of the rural blues tradition of untrained musicians, largely unfettered by matters of: “Well, it has to be eight measures, and then four measures,” they weren’t so much constrained by those sort of things and that very much was Syd’s approach: “I’ll write a lyric and if it means that I’ve got to put an extra half a bar in here to make it work I’ll just do that.” I don’t think it occurred to him that he was breaking any sort of musical rules by doing that, I think it was the most natural thing in the world.
In the Classic Albums Dark Side documentary, which you reference a few times in the book, David Fricke makes a comment about how the band became expansive after Piper; now I tend to think that had more to do with how they were discovering themselves as musicians rather than a desire to explore “inner space” or however it might be characterized, there are fans who say that – they were looking for a way to express an inner space. And I don’t know if that was really their goal. But It’s definitely one of those elements of the transitional period. Do you have a particular view on that part of it?
Yeah I think my view lines up pretty well with yours. I think the exploration of inner space, so to speak, is something that manifested itself primarily through Roger Waters’ lyrics and didn’t really do so very much before Dark Side of the Moon. There are certainly hints of it, so I think that inner space direction came more from him than the other three and I think it came fairly late in the transitional period.
There was a discussion on the AFG forum recently regarding how perhaps “Embryo” should have been included on Atom Heart Mother rather than “Alan’s Psychedelic Breakfast” and this is the type of discussion indicative of the perspective of fans who are thoroughly familiar with the whole of the band’s career in that they’re always considering additional unreleased material – even prior to a comprehensive archival release such as The Early Years. So I wondered if throughout your research and consideration of all these different things if you had some kind of similar viewpoint, like if you wish that a particular piece had actually been put onto an album instead of another, just that kind of discussion.
Yeah sure, to me that makes sense. I mean, “Alan’s Psychedelic Breakfast” is an interesting curio, but I know that it’s not something I return to with any regularity to listen to; whereas “Embryo” – I could hear that once a week for the rest of my life and I’d never get tired of it. As long as it was one of the long versions, not the one that was on Picnic. The one that’s on Picnic is just nothing special to me, it’s fine. It’s a work tape. But sure, I think it would have been nice if they had instead – I mean, as much as I enjoy Ummagumma, I think if they had put together a “Man and The Journey” album, and Nick Mason is quoted, rightly, explaining why they didn’t – you see, because people had heard most of that music already. Now, many people? That’s a different question. But I think it would have been really nice had Ummagumma maybe left – I like all the live tracks that are on there but I think it would have been a far more interesting album had it been released, say, a year later and they included “Embryo,” “Green Is The Colour,” and my favorite from that group of tunes, “Cymbeline.” The long live versions of those – I think that would have been, to my way of thinking, a even more satisfying live album. Because those versions were so different from their studio counterparts.
And it seems to me that up until, say, what I consider to be the Golden Era, their live show was what they put more of their consideration and their passion into rather than their recorded material.
And that’s indicative of them writing material so they can go on tour, “Well yeah, we have to have something new to play for people.”
And it wasn’t only a proving ground for material to be developed, but it was a reason to tour and to perform. And that’s the really interesting consideration for me.
I particularly enjoyed the interview you did with Steve Howe that I read on your website. I hadn’t previously been aware that he almost sat in for Syd, so I appreciate that you surprised me there.
Well guess what? I didn’t know about it either! When I set up the interview with him I had no idea that he was going to pop up with that story.
Yeah, a good friend of mine is his guitar tech, so I had reached out to him through that, but I know Yes’ publicist because I’ve interviewed, oh gosh, I forget how many members over the years – eight, nine, maybe? Current and former members, because there are so many. But I’m a pretty serious fan of the band anyway. I reached out to Steve mainly because I knew that Tomorrow had been on a bill with Floyd in the early days and I thought it would be illuminating to speak to someone who had first-hand knowledge of them in that period. And then lo and behold he tells me this story about being asked to fill in, and I was, like, “Hold on I gotta make sure I get this all down.” So that was a huge surprise to me as well. And as far as I know he’s never told that story anywhere else.
So in the context of that, of the people that you interviewed for the book from that era – who had something to do with that era – did you feel like it gave you the type of perspective that you wanted in terms of solidifying your own points? Did you feel like you got a lot of good content out of that?
I did, very much so. And even though I had my own – you know, like any human would I had my own preconceived notions – I really did my best to go into all these interviews without a specific agenda. In the case of my first-hand interviews I wasn’t looking for quotes to support my arguments. I was just looking to see what I got from them, what they had to say, what their perspective was. Especially three particular interviews stand out, although every one of them was quite illuminating. One was Jerry Shirley, another was Willie Wilson, and the third was Ron Geesin. All of them had a lot to say, although the specific facts of what they said are fairly well-known, hearing it from them – I wouldn’t say it put a different spin on it, but it just brought a slightly more nuanced perspective to some of those things that I had previously encountered.
Right, because Ron Geesin’s perspective on things is quite interesting, and sometimes really hilarious.
Always hilarious, he was a nut! (laughs)
And of course then he has a very unique position in the history of the band. I haven’t read his book about Atom Heart Mother but I really want to, I’m assuming it’s just as irreverant as anything else he has to say about Pink Floyd.
It is, it’s very very quirky. Oh you know, and I forgot an important one: Peter Jenner. Which is something that happened fairly late in the development of the whole project. I was at least halfway through the book when I got through to Peter Jenner and was, frankly, floored that he was willing: “Sure, I’ll do an interview!” and I’m, like, “Really, you will?” He had a lot to say that was really really interesting.
Given how he felt about the band and where it was going and all of that, I think that he has a unique perspective given who he was, where he was, in terms of that era. And not only in relation to Pink Floyd but also just the whole scene in general.
Yes, very much so.
Making special note as you do of the band’s appearances on the BBC – since you devoted a chapter to each of them – what do you believe is significant about those performances in the sense that you wanted to write a chapter about each of them. It’s interesting, usually in fan discussion these kinds of media appearances – like the KQED performance, that’s the one that gets discussed to death. Granted though, it’s really a great performance, we all love it, and the news that there’s additional footage out there is very exciting and all of that.
So I wondered about that, in that you wrote a chapter about each of those. So why is that important to you?
Well, you mention KQED and the reason I didn’t spend very much time at all on that is exactly for the reason that you mention, that’s it’s kind of been discussed to death. Well not to death. I’ve had the bootleg copies of that going back on VHS, and so I was familiar with that. The BBC stuff, obviously some of that has been in circulation among fans for a long time and some of it has not. For me, what was interesting is that thinking just how – for lack of a better word – how weird a lot of Pink Floyd’s music was. See, now we listen to it, we have the benefit and the baggage of context. I do think context is baggage in the sense that when we listen to something from 1970 we can’t help but measure it even subconsciously against the work they did in ‘73 and ‘75 and ‘79 and onward and onward. If you’re listening to those songs in 1969 or 1970, the only thing you had to measure them against was the other music being made by other artists in that period and what Pink Floyd had done before. I think the fact that that stuff was so strange and the fact that it got on BBC radio in and of itself is just pretty remarkable. I mean, I’ve tried to think of: what’s the weirdest thing going on musically now. And I’m not even sure what that would be. Let’s say Kamasi Washington, which is not terribly weird, but, well it’s jazz. If Kamasi Washington suddenly showed up on a classic rock FM radio station, people would be like: “What is this?” This doesn’t seem to fit, it’s just really really out there. And the fact that the fairly staid BBC put this stuff on state radio and broadcast it throughout the UK, I think that’s really remarkable and it gave a kind of above-ground exposure to Pink Floyd’s music that furthered their eventual popularity in ways we can’t quite measure. I think they may not have become quite the big pop culture phenomenon they had, had they not gotten these BBC gigs.
Right, and I would say that also speaks to the fact that programmers used to be tastemakers.
Yes! Bingo, absolutely.
And John Peel was a fan. It’s lucky for them in a sense that he was lobbying for them. That’s a great response, I appreciate that.
Well thank you.
You devoted two chapters to reviewing The Dark Side of the Moon – is that to emphasize the album’s place in Floydian history as well as critical/popular acclaim? Or does it mean there’s that much more to elaborate upon versus previous albums?
Well it’s all those things but I think essentially because of the manner in which the album was put together – although there might be the occasional blip of silence between some tracks – for the most part, the music on Dark Side of the Moon can be viewed as two suites of music. Something like a big section of side two of Abbey Road, you know, the big medley. So I decided to just treat them as two – not separate works, certainly – but just two pieces of music. In the same way that “The Man and The Journey” are two pieces of music. And really what I wanted to do with those chapters was what I hopefully did in the chapters prior to that was set out all the different ways in which they developed and explored and then what I was trying to do with the two chapters on Dark Side was sort of bring all those threads back together.
And I think that was also the start of, and you probably know this too, is that from then on, generally on FM radio – the old FM radio – if someone was going to play something from Pink Floyd, they wouldn’t play just one track. From Dark Side on – now prior to that, you might hear “One of These Days” for example, played just by itself. But if they were going to play something from Dark Side of the Moon, or Wish You Were Here, or Animals or The Wall, a lot of times you might hear the entire side of the record. Because people started to think of Pink Floyd as the type of a band who weren’t necessarily – I mean, you would still hear discrete songs on AM radio – but most people had that idea that they weren’t just a song-oriented band. They were a band who had an overarching concept and therefore you wanted to hear longer pieces which would support an idea that’s being proffered.
Exactly. Hearing one specific song would be sort of like coming into a room in the middle of someone’s conversation and then walking back out before it’s over.
Right, and of course there were certain DJs who were crucial in putting that concept out there, like Jim Ladd. And then Tommy Vance as well, you know, these were people who were, again, being tastemakers and trying to get people to appreciate a particular perspective on Pink Floyd: “This is a band that you have to experience this way,” sort of a thing. And when you’re a kid you just sort of go, “Oh, okay. Sure, why not.”
That’s right. Those generations had the benefit of being able to listen to those tastemakers. That was in the days of broadcasting as opposed to narrowcasting which is what we largely have now. Whereas a band – take Phish – they have a serious hardcore fanbase but there are other serious hardcore music fans who have never heard a note of their music. It’s impossible to imagine a case like that, well near impossible to imagine a case like that back in 1973. There just weren’t rock fans who never heard Dark Side of the Moon. It just didn’t happen.
So what was the backstory regarding the book’s cover which you previously mentioned?
As part of my contract with my publisher, I had the opportunity to choose a photo for the cover. I pored over images at Getty Archive, Alamy and other licensed stock archives, and while I found some great shots, none quite got across visually the idea I had in my head. I knew of a particular shot that I really wanted to use, but it was unavailable via any of the stock services. I did some research and discovered that the photo in question – found fairly easily online in low-resolution format, usually without photographer’s attribution – was taken by Pink Floyd’s original manager, Peter Jenner. And he maintains ownership of the photo. I had reached out to Jenner right after I began work on the book, in hope of an interview; at that point I wasn’t thinking about the cover, but did not get a response. So when I was pretty far along on the project – way past the halfway point – I decided to make another attempt to contact him. I was successful. Not only did he agree to an interview, but he allowed the licensed use of the iconic shot for the book cover. It’s one of very few featuring the five-man lineup for Waters, Wright, Mason, Gilmour and Barrett. I believe that January 1968 photo session yielded three shots total, and this is my favorite. The Photoshop “ghosting” of Syd was my idea.
To wrap up, beyond your daily duties writing for various media outlets and your own website, can you talk about what’s next for you in terms of a book project or is it too early to speak of that?
I’m kicking around a number of proposals and just trying to decide which one I want to fully flesh out. So nothing to announce at this point. The writing for magazines is what takes the lion’s share of my time. Last year in ‘17 I did 168 interviews, and about the same the year before, and this year’s already on track to be probably about the same. So I’m doing a whole lot of writing but they tend to be short-form, you know, a few hundred or a few thousand words whether it’s for PROG or Record Collector or Goldmine or things like that. In terms of a bigger project it’s just a matter of sort of deciding on the right one and frankly, finding a publisher that thinks they have a market for it. Because that’s the reality of it – I mean, hey if I wanted to go the self-publishing route I could write some in-depth treatise on the most obscure band in the world that I happen to love, but that’s not really the route I want to go. I want to balance artistic and creative concerns with something that has a widespread appeal.
For more information – and bonus features – regarding the book, please visit the official website: