On 27 June 2005 I was to set out from Australia on the trip of a lifetime. Pink Floyd had been announced to play at Live 8 in Hyde Park London. This was to be Pink Floyd’s first live performance, with all 4 members of the band, for 23 years, and there was nothing on earth that was going to stop me from attending.
This wasn’t the first time I had seen the Floyd in Hyde Park. I had been there in 1968 & 1970. However, it had been 30 years since I had last been back to England, and this was going to be an emotional journey for me, in more ways than one.
After a 24 hour haul to the UK, I arrived at Heathrow airport, met some friends from the USA, hired a car, and it was off to London, to check out Hyde Park.
It didn’t take us long to find a pub, and I settled in with a helping of fish & chips, and a drink or two!
Later, on returning to my newly hired car I got an unexpected surprise! A 50 quid parking ticket had been left under my windscreen. Seemed I had failed to buy a ticket at the machine, but nobody told me I had to! Oh well, you live & learn.
The next day it was off to Bognor Regis, situated on the coast in Southern England, I had been invited to stay with my Niece Lisa, and her husband Mark and their 3 boys.
We had just a couple of days relaxing, before it was time to start work on a banner I was planning on taking to the show. I put Mark to work, and he came up with something really special.
You can see Mark hard at work in the picture on the right. I think it took around 3 or 4 hours to get the lettering just right.
Mark then attached some wooden stakes to the banner, and I was set to go to the show…
The night before the show I drove up to London to meet and stay with my Internet friend John Davies. John, as many of you already know, wrote some fantastic tales of growing up in Cambridge with many of the principles of Pink Floyd. We had become very good mates, and wrote to each other often, and had a couple of video hook up’s, although obviously we had never met in person.
I finally found my way to his lovely home (You wouldn’t believe just how many times I got lost on this trip!) and received a warm welcome from John.
We had a good chat about many things, and went out to have drinks with a couple of John’s friends, Graham & Dana.
On returning to John’s home, he showed me the picture that Storm had given him earlier this year. It was utterly magnificent, and I just had to get a picture of it, and John (Above).
I had to get up about 4.30am, as through The Forum attached to this site, we set up a meeting of fans for 6am at Kensington Gardens, not far from Hyde Park.
The plan was to gather together and get to meet each other, many of us for the first time. So I set off from John’s house by foot to the local station. John had shown me where to go the night before, and even drove me over the route I was to take. Needless to say, on leaving his house at 5am, it suddenly occurred to me that I had no idea in which direction I should head! Oh well, lost again!
I finally found my way to the station, and managed to arrive at the meeting point about 20 minutes late!
We then set off across the park, and found our way to the entrance to the Live 8 event
We noticed that the officials were making people remove the poles from banners that were being taken in, so removed our poles before entering the venue. This later turned out to be a disaster, as we were unable to fly the banner once we got directly inside the event. That’s why any media pictures you may see, were taken before we entered the event proper.
Right, we were in to the event. We had queued for hours. I think it was about 8 or maybe 9am when we started to queue, and the gates didn’t open until noon, and then there was still a 2 hour wait ahead until the show was due to start. I could see this was going to be a long day.
Most of us stuck together, as the rush started as people were rushing (stampeding really) to grab a good spot. We walked at a rapid rate, but were overtaken by many in the mad rush to be close to the front.
We staked out a good area of space, using the banner as a groundsheet, but this was not to last……
As more and more people started to push towards the front, gradually our ‘barriers’ came down, and the space we had, was reduced to practically standing room only.
The few of us left from the original group, decide to retire to the back of the crowd, and this we did until a couple of hours before Pink Floyd were due to play……
I don’t think I want to bore you with a full review of Pink Floyd’s performance. Suffice it to say that I thought it was one of the most moving performances I have ever seen in my life.
Needless to say, tears filled my eyes as they started to play, and it dawned on me that I had seen them at almost the start of their career, and now I was seeing what will probably be their last performance.
Thanks here to Beth, with whom I linked arms during Comfortably Numb, truly a poignant moment.
The next day, bear & I struck out for Cambridge to take in a few Floyd sites. bear and I had meet previously on three occasions in San Francisco, but this was a pilgrimage for both of us. A very special moment happened when we sat together on a park bench, and realised that we had witnessed a dream come true.
Unfortunately, bear had to return to London that night. So I waved him off on his train , and then found digs for the night, as the next day I had a meeting with the famous Bannisters.
For those that may not know, Freddy Bannister has been a promoter for many years, and featured Pink Floyd, and countless other bands, at his famous Knebworth & Bath festivals, and many other venues.
The Bannisters had invited me for lunch (or was it high tea) at Granchester Meadows, and a wonderful afternoon was spent exploring the Meadows, and even grabbing a peek at disgraced author Geoffrey Archer’s house, which is in the Rectory, right next door to the tea gardens.
I said a fond farewell to Cambridge late that afternoon, and set out for Loughborough, to met up with some old friends…….
I had met jce & his partner Jill in Australia when they came over for Roger’s 2002 tour. jce has been the main UK correspondent for A Fleeting Glimpse for many years, and by a strange quirk of fate, had actually been in Australia in early June, checking out the prospects of moving here. So it was only a matter of a couple of weeks since I had last seen them both.
We spent a great couple of night together, chatting about the Floyd, and even managed to squeeze in a few other subjects besides!
However, all good things must come to an end, and it was off back down to Bognor, to get ready for more travels.
I meet up with Mark again, and his mate Barnsy at Bognor, and we then set off for the weekend to Amsterdam!
The plan was to check out the Pink Floyd cafe’s, but nobody seemed to know where they were, so we set out to explore other places……
The weekend in Amsterdam flew by oh so quickly, and I only had one day to recover, before I was due to meet up with some more very special people.
Prior to leaving for the trip to the UK, I had received an invitation to meet with Shuki from Pink Floyd Management. To make this even more special, Matt Johns, from our sister site Brain Damage had also been invited along, and it was a real thrill for me to meet up with Matt, for a quick chat & a drink before we set off to meet Shuki.
On arrival at the offices, we were introduced to a very attractive lady, who turned out to be Shuki. Her equally attractive assistant was also there briefly, but had to set off after a few minutes.
Matt & I were shown around the offices, but my mouth was hanging open wider than Matt’s, as he had been there before.
The offices were painted cool white, and it was a pleasant warm evening, and the sun was still streaming in through the windows. On the walls hung 3 large Storm Thorgerson prints, and on a table, a sad looking orchid…….
I checked out the shelves around the place, that were covered in CD’s. On closer inspection, most of these turned out to be pirated recordings, that I assume had been confiscated over the years.
We were then given access to a computer, where we gazed in awe at some Live 8 rehearsal pictures. These had been taken at the Live 8 rehearsals the week before, and if anybody thought the unification was acrimonious, it was dispelled immediately by the looks on the guys faces, especially Roger, who was beaming in almost every shot! This was a rare treat indeed!
Whilst we were looking at the pictures, Shuki was on the phone to none other than James Guthrie. This was all so surreal, and Matt and I looked at each other, as discussion ensued about a documentary that was being prepared for the upcoming PULSE DVD. At the conclusion of the call, I asked about the DVD, and were told that Pink Floyd want this to be the best DVD ever. They want it to be perfect, so every little detail was being closely examined. It seems the documentary needed to be juggled around somewhat, before it could be considered for inclusion on the DVD.
This has had the result of delaying the release once again, and although it’s hoped that it will be out late in 2005, it’s still possible this may slip to 2006, so be prepared!
I did ask if the Live 8 DVD would delay the PULSE DVD, but was assured that neither had a bearing on the other.
At some stage, a phone call was also put in to Storm Thorgerson, this was getting more & more interesting!
It’s hard to remember the sequence of events, but after spending some time in the office, the three of us set out for a meal and a drink or two. Here I was being driven around by Shuki, can you imagine how I was feeling???
Over the course of the night, we discussed many things, and gleaned the following information.
The Wish You Were Here 5.1 hybrid CD/SACD is a definite, and should be out later this year. It seems at one stage, “Animals’ was also being considered for 5.1 treatment, but this idea had been shelved.
On the four Floyd’s meeting up for the first time since the Live 8 announcement. We were told that the guys all hit it off immediately, and the friendship that had been fractured for years, was resumed straight away, and all four came together as good friends. Any stories about them arguing was just media beat up.
The guys had rehearsed for 3 days for the Live 8 gig, and each day they spent around 6 hours practicing. I asked about them rehearsing Free Four, as this had been reported by a few places. However, we were told that this was not the case, and as time was tight, they had only rehearsed what they were going to play at Live 8, with probably just a few exceptions.
David Gilmour continues to work on his solo album, and it was this that had prevented David to agreeing to do Live 8 at first, as he didn’t want to be distracted. However, as we all now know, his mind was changed….
The album should be out next year sometime, and a mini tour of the UK is almost definite, and a few USA gigs might also be considered. However, nothing was yet set in stone.
We talked about the possibility of a Pink Floyd tour, or new album, but not unexpectedly, we were told that there are no plans of any sort like this. All four members are going to let the dust settle after Live 8, and go about their normal business.
As you can imagine, we covered a lot more ground that this. Some of the information we were given was background type stuff, and some anecdotal. I have tried to be as accurate as I could with my reporting of the meeting. However, I didn’t make notes, and this occurred over a week ago (at time of writing), so there may be one or two things slightly misheard or remembered incorrectly.
Sadly it was time to say good-bye to both of the lovely people I had spent such a memorable evening with. Thank you Matt & thank you Shuki for making this a really special part of my trip.
Time to go……….
The next day was also spent in London. I had somebody else to see. This time I set off for the Earls Court area, for I had an appointment to see Robin Headlee. Robin, is one of Storm Thorgerson’s Managers, and we had a lot of things to discuss!
When I arrived at Robin’s office, she had just gotten off the phone to L.A. where it had been discovered that the majority of the frames for Storm’s artwork, that were destined for the Los Angeles exhibition, had been damaged in transit, and that there was a major rush to either get them replaced or repaired!
Robin told me that the Chicago exhibition had been a major success, and that there were now plans to greatly expand the exhibition to a much larger world audience.
The demand for the traveling art show continues to build, and there are early plans to take it to South America, as well as many other countries. It’s now quite possible, that two, or maybe even three exhibitions could be on the road at the same time, all in different parts of the world.
I was really pleased to hear Robin say that Australia is definitely being planned for 2007, quite probably in Melbourne, at a gallery I that I checked out for Robin last year.
Wish you were here…………..
I spent that night with John Davies again, and it seemed so funny when he phoned Storm to discuss a few things. I was quite tickled to hear John say that he was with his Australian mate. What a weird world. I had now been in two different rooms, with two different people on two consecutive nights, both of who had phoned Storm!
I then spent a few days visiting long lost relatives, trying to catching up with old friends. Did the Tower Of London, and a few other tourist type things.
Whilst in London, I just had to go to Tottenham Court Road and check out the site of where UFO used to stand. For those that don’t know, UFO is where the Floyd really first set out on the journey to fame & fortune. This was the place where my nearly 40 year association with Pink Floyd had begun way back on 23 December 1966. I knew the place no longer existed, but had to see for myself anyway.
(Above)These people don’t realise it, but they are walking directly over the cellar where UFO use to be. The lady in the orange dress in the picture of the left, almost has her foot directly over where Pink Floyd used to play!
A couple of days before I was due to return home, I received a message from Andy Jackson. Andy is Pink Floyd’s sound engineer, and has worked on most of their albums for many years now. Andy was trying to arrange a tour for me around the recording studio, but sadly, at the last minute had to cancel, due to problems with the studio Manager. Never mind Andy, I will catch up with you next trip, and I hope it won’t be as long as 30 years!
Well that’s about it. I did manage to pack in a lot more things than detailed here, but thought you might like to see and read about some of the Floydian highlights of my most magnificent trip.
For the use of some images, I would like to thank my really good friend Kristen from Bleeding Heart Artist and thank her for being so nice to me on our meet up’s in London. Also a nod to Andrew Gall, who helped out with one of the banner pictures.
A special thanks also to all the lovely people I met in the UK, thanks for being so kind, sharing your houses and hospitality with me. You made this just the most fantastic trip ever.