* Appetite for Destruction (1987)
* G N’ R Lies (1988)
* Use Your Illusion I (1991)
* Use Your Illusion II (1991)
* The Spaghetti Incident? (1993)
* Chinese Democracy (2008)
The music of Guns N’ Roses is a fusion of punk rock, blues-rock, heavy metal and classic rock and roll. In the 1990s, the band integrated keyed instruments (played by either Rose or Reed, and accompanied on tour by Teddy Andreadis) into the band, and for roughly half of the Use Your Illusion tour, added a horn section to the stage. While Reed has remained on some of the Chinese Democracy demos, tours since 2000 have not included wind instruments, though the band has employed synthesized horns on some of their new songs.
A heavy influence on both the image and sound of the band was Finnish band Hanoi Rocks (singer Michael Monroe and Rose have collaborated on various occasions). Rose has stated that the band was massively inspired by bands like Queen, AC/DC, The Rolling Stones , and Rose Tattoo and also that the sound of Appetite for Destruction was influenced by AC/DC, Aerosmith, The New York Dolls and Hanoi Rocks.
Guns N’ Roses signed with a major label within eight months of their inception and topped national sales charts weeks after garnering late hours airplay on MTV. Appetite for Destruction is the highest-selling debut album of all time.
Their peers in the music industry often spoke highly of the band: Ozzy Osbourne called Guns N’ Roses “the next Rolling Stones.” In 2002, Q magazine named Guns N’ Roses in their list of the “50 Bands To See Before You Die”. Also, the television network VH1 ranked Guns N’ Roses ninth in its “100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock” special, and also ranked 11th on “Top 50 bands”. Appetite for Destruction appeared in the Rolling Stone Magazine special issue “The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time”. In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked Guns N’ Roses #92 on their list of the “100 Greatest Artists of All Time”. “Welcome To The Jungle” had also been voted “Best Rock Song”.
The band has not been free of criticism. The flagrant alcohol and drug abuse by some members of the group, and Axl’s fondness of Charles Manson T-shirts, were used by the media to portray Guns N’ Roses as a poor example and negative influence on their young fans. The long periods of time that the band took to release albums were also a source of heavy criticism (the band’s second album, GN’R Lies, was actually an EP and an old EP packaged together, and one of the songs was an acoustic cover of one from the band’s debut album, it took from 1987 to 1991 to come up with a proper follow up to Appetite for Destruction, and it took over 15 years to release Chinese Democracy).
Frontman Axl Rose has become a source of both controversy and criticism since the other founding members left the group. His constant elusiveness, such as the fact that he has not held a press conference since 1994, has led to several stories claiming he is suffering from bipolar disorder. Music critics have blamed Rose for the break-up of the original group, have criticized him for continuing the band after the original members had departed and have questioned the constant change in band members. They also cite his neurotic behavior and sense of perfectionism as a cause of personal conflict and the long delays between albums.
The group was formed in early 1985 by Hollywood Rose members Axl Rose (vocals) and Izzy Stradlin (rhythm guitar), and L.A. Guns members Tracii Guns (lead guitar), Ole Beich (bass) and Rob Gardner (drums). The band created its name by combining two of the group members’ names. A short time later, bassist Ole Beich was fired and replaced by Duff McKagan. After a short while Tracii Guns was replaced by Slash; after Tracii didn’t show up to rehearsal. Slash had played with McKagan in Road Crew and Stradlin during a short stint in Hollywood Rose. The new line-up came together quickly, but after deciding to go on a “tour” from Sacramento, California to Duff’s home town of Seattle, drummer Rob Gardner quit and was replaced by Slash’s close friend Steven Adler. The band, which continued to be called Guns N’ Roses even after the departure of Tracii Guns, established its first stable line up on this so-called “Hell Tour”. In an interview, Slash stated, “That [trip to Seattle] is really what cemented the band” and established its chemistry.
After witnessing a Guns N’ Roses show at the Troubadour, Tom Zutaut, a Geffen Records A&R executive, falsely warned other scouts “they suck” so he could have more time and leeway to try to sign them. Axl Rose demanded, and received, a $75,000 advance from Zutaut before revealing that he had promised an A&R executive from Chrysalis Records that the band would sign with her if she walked naked down the Sunset Strip. For five days, Zutaut nervously watched from his office window for a naked A&R executive before he could close the deal. Alan Niven was subsequently hired as the band’s manager, and the team set out to record the band’s full-length debut album.
Live ?!*@ Like a Suicide
Geffen Records released an EP in late 1986 to keep the interest in the band alive while the band withdrew from the club scene to work in the studio. The four song EP Live ?!*@ Like a Suicide came out on the ostensibly independent “Uzi Suicide Records” label (which was actually a Geffen subsidiary.) Only 10,000 vinyl copies of the EP were produced. On Halloween night 1986 Guns N’ Roses performed at UCLA’s Ackerman Ballroom as the opening act to Thelonious Monster, The Dickies, and the headlining Red Hot Chili Peppers.
The record was billed as a live recording, although Rose would reveal, years later, that it was simulated. The EP consisted of four songs from the band’s demo tapes with crowd noise overdubbed. It contained covers of Rose Tattoo’s “Nice Boys” and Aerosmith’s “Mama Kin”, along with two original compositions: the punk anthem “Reckless Life” and the classic rock inspired “Move to the City”, both of which were co-written by Hollywood Rose’s founding member Chris Weber.
The original vinyl Live ?!*@ Like a Suicide EP has become a valuable and sought after collector’s item, even though the tracks were re-issued two years later on the GN’R Lies album. However Arron Bailey has an unreleased platinum edition which has said to be hitting values into the six digit figures.
Appetite for Destruction, G N’ R Lies (1987–1989)
The band’s first album, Appetite for Destruction was released on July 21, 1987. The album underwent an artwork change after the original Robert Williams cover design (a surrealist scene in which a dagger-toothed monster vengefully attacks a robot rapist) spawned complaints from religious groups and caused some record stores to brown bag, obscure, or refuse to sell the album. The revised cover was a design by Bill White, a tattoo artist, who had originally designed it for a tattoo Rose had got the previous year. The design featured each of the five band members’ skulls layered on a cross. Rose later insisted that the Gold and Platinum plaques issued by the RIAA be set using the original cover. The artwork from the original cover can be found in the booklet of the CD release. In the US, “Welcome to the Jungle” was issued as its first single with an accompanying music video. Initially, the album and single lingered for almost a year without performing well, but when Geffen Records founder David Geffen was asked to lend support to the band, he obliged by personally convincing MTV executives to play “Welcome to the Jungle” during their after hours rotation. Even though the video was initially only played one time at 4 a.m. on a Sunday, rock and punk fans took notice and soon began requesting the video and song en masse. In Japan, an entire EP entitled Live from the Jungle was issued, containing the album version of “Sweet Child o’ Mine” along with a selection of numerous Marquee Club recordings.
“Sweet Child O’ Mine” was the album’s second US single co-written by Axl Rose as a poem for his girlfriend and future wife, Erin Everly. Due to the growing grassroots success of the band and the cross-gender appeal of the tune, the song and its accompanying music video received heavy airplay on both radio and MTV, and became a smash hit during the summer of 1988, reaching the top of the charts in the U.S. Slash stated on VH1’s 100 Greatest songs of the 80’s, “It was actually my least favorite song we ever wrote…I hate it, but it turns out to be our greatest song ever”. “Welcome to the Jungle” was then re-issued as a single, with new pressings of records and tapes and new artwork. It was a successful re-release, as the single reached #7 in the U.S. The UK re-release was backed with an acoustic version of “You’re Crazy”, recorded much earlier than the one featured on the G N’ R Lies EP.
By the time “Paradise City” and its video reached the airwaves and peaked at #5 in the U.S., the band’s touring success and fame had catapulted the album to #1 on the Billboard charts. “Welcome to the Jungle”, “Sweet Child o’ Mine” and “Paradise City” were all top ten singles in the U.S. To date, Appetite for Destruction has sold over 28 million copies.
Guns N’ Roses began opening shows for major acts, but as their fame began to take hold, a world tour in support of Appetite for Destruction was scheduled. The band traveled across the United States, and in spring 1988 were invited to the notorious Monsters of Rock Festival at Castle Donington in Leicestershire, England, where they shared the bill with groups like KISS and Iron Maiden. At the start of the Guns N’ Roses set, the capacity crowd of over 100,000 began jumping and surging forward. Despite Rose’s requests that the crowd move away from the stage, two fans were trampled to death. The media largely blamed the band for the tragedy, and reported that the band had continued playing even when there were dangerous crowd conditions. In fact, the final report on the Donington incident filed by the head of security at the venue noted that the band had not been aware of the extent of fan injuries, had immediately halted their set when requested to do so, and had attempted to calm the crowd. Nonetheless, events such as these during the Appetite for Destruction tour earned the group the title of “the world’s most dangerous band”. In addition, the behavior of the band members also garnered negative attention from the media. Duff, Slash, Izzy and Adler were often seen intoxicated both on and off stage.
The band’s next release was G N’ R Lies in 1988, which reached #2 in the Billboard music charts. The album included the four Live ?!*@ Like a Suicide recordings on one side and four acoustic songs on the other. The song “One in a Million”, which included the words “niggers” and “faggots” among other such obscenities, led to controversy in which critics accused the band, and specifically Axl Rose, of racism and homophobia. Rose responded (in a 1990 interview with MTV) by saying the claims were unfounded, particularly considering Slash himself is half black. He went on to explain that the words were those of a protagonist and not a personal statement, and that the lyrics reflected racial and prejudicial problems within society rather than promoting them. Rose also cited that he idolized gay/bisexual singers like Freddie Mercury and Elton John. The band had played gigs alongside the all-black metal band Body Count, and lead singer Ice T wrote in his book, The Ice Opinion, that Axl had been “a victim of the press the same way I am”.
Even after the release of GN’R Lies, Appetite for Destruction continued to be popular for the rest of 1988 and 1989, which resulted in them winning both Favorite Heavy Metal Artist and Favorite Heavy Metal Album (Appetite for Destruction) at the nationally televised 1990 American Music Awards, where Slash and McKagan appeared visibly intoxicated and used profanities on the air. The members finally took steps to deal with their addictions after Rose threatened to end the band if they continued with their heavy drug abuse. He even spoke publicly about the situation, specifically the heroin addictions, while opening for The Rolling Stones at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in 1989 by stating that if certain members of the band don’t stop “dancing with Mr. Brownstone”, Guns N’ Roses was finished — mainly referring to Slash and Adler.
Fame and fortune (1990–1993)
Use Your Illusion
In 1990, Guns N’ Roses returned to the studio to begin recording their most ambitious undertaking yet. During the
recording session of “Civil War”, drummer Steven Adler was unable to perform well due to his struggles with cocaine and heroin addiction—his difficulties in the studio caused the band to do nearly 30 takes. As a result, Adler was fired in July 1990, and was replaced by former Cult drummer Matt Sorum, who Axl credited for saving the band. A few months prior, keyboardist Dizzy Reed became the sixth member of the group when he joined as a full time member. The band fired their manager, Alan Niven, in May 1991, replacing him with Doug Goldstein. According to a 1991 cover story by Rolling Stone magazine, Rose forced the dismissal of Niven (against the wishes of some of his bandmates) by refusing to complete the albums until he was replaced.
With enough music for two albums, the band released Use Your Illusion I and Use Your Illusion II on September 17, 1991. The tactic paid off when the albums debuted at #2 and #1 respectively in the Billboard charts, setting a record as they became the first and only group to date to achieve this feat. The albums spent 108 weeks in the chart.
Guns N’ Roses accompanied the Use Your Illusion albums with many videos, including “Don’t Cry”, “November Rain” and “Estranged”—some of the most expensive music videos ever made. The hit ballad “November Rain” (#3 U.S.) became the most requested video on MTV, eventually winning the 1992 MTV Video Music Award for best cinematography. It is also the longest song in chart history to reach the Top Ten, clocking in at 8:56. During the awards show, the band performed the song with Elton John accompanying on piano.
Both prior to and after the release of the albums, Guns N’ Roses embarked on the 28-month-long Use Your Illusion World Tour. It became famous for both its financial success and the many controversial incidents that occurred at the shows, and is still currently the longest tour in rock history.
Use Your Illusion World Tour
The Use Your Illusion World Tour included a Slash guitar solo incorporating The Godfather theme, a piano-driven Axl Rose cover of “It’s Alright” by Black Sabbath and an extended jam on the classic rock-inspired “Move to the City” where Rose showcased the ensemble of musicians assembled for the tour.
Many of the successful performances during the tour were equally matched, and often overshadowed in the press, by riots, late starts and outspoken rants by Rose. While the band’s previous drug and alcohol issues were seemingly under control, Axl was often agitated by lax security, sound problems and unwanted filming or recording of the performances. He also used the time in-between songs to fire off political statements or retorts against music critics or celebrity rivals.
On July 2, 1991, at the Riverport Amphitheater in Maryland Heights, Missouri, just outside of St. Louis during a performance of “Rocket Queen”, Rose jumped into the audience and tackled a fan who was filming the show with a camera. He had a heated confrontation with the fan before physically assaulting him. After being pulled out of the audience by members of the crew, Rose said: “Well, thanks to the lame-ass security, I’m going home!”, slammed his microphone on the ground and left the stage. The angry crowd began to riot and dozens of people were injured. The footage was captured by Robert John, who was documenting the entire tour for the band. Rose was charged with having incited the riot, but police were unable to arrest him until almost a year later, as the band went overseas to continue the tour. Charges were filed against Rose but a judge ruled that he did not directly incite the riot. In his defense, Rose stated that the Guns N’ Roses security team had made four separate requests to the venue’s security staff to remove the camera, all of which were ignored, that other members of the band had reported being hit by bottles from the audience in the arena and refusing to enforce a drinking limit. Consequently, Use Your Illusion’s artwork featured a hidden message amidst the Thank You section of the album insert: “Fuck You, St. Louis!”
After a repeat of the St. Louis incident nearly unfolded during a concert in Germany, rhythm guitarist Izzy Stradlin abruptly quit the band, citing a combination of Rose’s personal behaviour (he would consistently delay the start of shows by hours at a time) and his mismanagement of the band and difficulties being around Slash, Sorum, and McKagan due to his new-found sobriety and their continuing alcohol and substance addictions. Axl Rose originally wanted Jane’s Addiction guitarist Dave Navarro to replace Stradlin, but Stradlin was eventually replaced by Los Angeles-based guitarist Gilby Clarke whom Slash credited for saving the band. During many shows throughout the tour, Rose introduced Clarke and had him play “Wild Horses”, a Rolling Stones cover with Slash. In late 1991, Rose added a touring ensemble to the band which included a horns section and several background vocalists despite the rest of the band’s refusal.
In 1992, the band appeared at the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert, performing a two-song set. Slash later performed “Tie Your Mother Down” with the remaining members of Queen, while Axl Rose performed “We Will Rock You” and duetted with Elton John on “Bohemian Rhapsody”. Their personal set included “Paradise City” and “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door”. When they returned to the U.S. for the second leg of the Use Your Illusion tour, Queen guitarist Brian May opened the shows with a band that included Cozy Powell on drums. Axl had originally wanted the grunge band Nirvana to open their Use Your Illusion tour but frontman Kurt Cobain refused. He also made some negative comments about Guns N’ Roses infuriating Rose and started of one of his many feuds other than the ones with his bandmates.
Later in the year they went on the mini-GNR-Metallica Stadium Tour with American Metal band Metallica. During a show in August 1992 at Montreal’s Olympic Stadium, Metallica frontman James Hetfield suffered severe burns after stepping too close to a pyrotechnics blast. Metallica was forced to cancel the second hour of the show, but promised to return to the city for another show. After a long delay, during which the audience became increasingly restless, Guns N’ Roses took the stage. However, the shortened time between sets did not allow for adequate tuning of stage monitors, resulting in musicians not being able to hear themselves. In addition, Rose claimed that his throat hurt, causing the band to leave the stage early. The cancellation led to another riot by audience members, reminiscent of the rioting that had occurred in St. Louis one year earlier. Rioters overturned cars, smashed windows, looted local stores and set fires. Local authorities were barely able to bring the mob under control. This can be seen on video in A Year and a Half in the Life of Metallica. On MTV’s Rockumentary about Metallica, the band spoke about this tour and how they learned from Guns N’ Roses what not to do.
The historic tour ended in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on July 17, 1993. The tour set attendance records and lasted for 28 months, in which 192 shows were played. The show in Buenos Aires marked the last time original members Slash and McKagan as well as newcomers Clarke and Sorum would play a live show with Rose.
“The Spaghetti Incident?”
On November 23, 1993, Guns N’ Roses released a collection of punk and glam rock covers entitled “The Spaghetti Incident?”. Despite protests from Rose’s band-mates, an unadvertised cover of the Charles Manson song “Look at Your Game Girl” was included on the album at his request. Years later, Rose said he would remove the song from new pressings of the album, claiming that critics and the media had misinterpreted his interest in Manson. Axl can be seen wearing a black Manson shirt in the video for “Estranged” from Use Your Illusion II. He also can be seen wearing a red Manson shirt in footage from their show in Milton Keynes, England in 1993. This version of the shirt had additional text on the back, “Charlie Don’t Surf’. “Look at Your Game Girl” is still on the album. The Spaghetti Incident? did not match the success of the Illusion albums and tension increased within the band.
Interviews with Guns N’ Roses band members suggest that between 1994 and 1996, the band sporadically began to write and record new material, most of which, according to Slash, had been written by Axl. At the time, the band had intended to release a single album with 10 or 12 songs.
Regarding the dysfunction of the band’s recording at that time, Axl is quoted as saying “We still needed the collaboration of the band as a whole to write the best songs. Since none of that happened, that’s the reason why that material got scrapped.”
Slash and Duff McKagan later left the group, and as such all of the original members (aside from Axl Rose) had departed from the band. 1994 was the last year Axl held a press conference or performed until 2001 with his new cast. Axl’s only performance in 1994 was a duet with Bruce Springsteen on a cover of the Beatles song “Come Together”. An actual break-up of Guns N’ Roses never occurred, as new players were brought in as the old ones left. (For more information on the personnel changes over the years see the article: “List of Guns N’ Roses band members”)
McKagan was the last of Rose’s original bandmates to leave; in 1997 he was replaced by Tommy Stinson (formerly of The Replacements.) By the end of 1998, a new version of Guns N Roses had emerged: many musicians have come and gone from the new band, but the core group has included Rose, Stinson, keyboardist Dizzy Reed, multi-instrumentalist Chris Pitman, and guitarist Robin Finck.
Chinese Democracy (1999–2008)
In 1999, the band released a new song, “Oh My God”, which was included on the soundtrack of the film End of Days. The track featured additional guitar work by Dave Navarro and Gary Sunshine, Rose’s personal guitar teacher. The song’s release was intended to be a prelude to their new album, now officially entitled Chinese Democracy. Geffen also released Live Era: ’87-’93, a collection of live performances from various concerts during the Appetite for Destruction and Use Your Illusion tours. Also in 1999, during an interview with Kurt Loder for MTV, Axl said that he had re-recorded Appetite for Destruction with the then-new band, apart from two songs which he had replaced with “Patience” and “You Could Be Mine”.
Chinese Democracy had reportedly been in the works since 1994, with Rose the only original member still in the band. According to a report published in 2005 by The New York Times, Rose had allegedly spent $13 million in the studio by that point.
In 1999, guitarist Robin Finck departed the band to rejoin his former band, Nine Inch Nails, on tour. In 2000, avant-garde guitarist Buckethead joined Guns N’ Roses as a replacement for Finck. Drummer Josh Freese was replaced with Bryan Mantia (formerly of Primus). Robin Finck returned to the band in late 2000, to complement Buckethead on lead guitar.
The New Guns N’ Roses
The revised lineup finally made a public appearance in January 2001, with two well-received concerts, one in Las Vegas and one at the Rock in Rio Festival in Rio de Janeiro. The band played a mixture of old hits as well as new songs from their forthcoming album. During their Rock in Rio set, Rose made the following comment regarding former members of the band:
The new lineup played a further two shows in Las Vegas at the end of 2001. In 2002, rhythm guitarist Paul Tobias left the band because of his frustrations with life on the road. He was replaced by Richard Fortus (formerly of The Psychedelic Furs and Love Spit Love). The band then played several shows in August 2002, headlining festivals and concerts throughout Asia and Europe. They made their way to New York for a surprise appearance at the MTV Video Music Awards in September.
In 2002, the band’s first North American tour since 1993 was organized to support Chinese Democracy, with CKY and Mix Master Mike supporting. However, the opening show in Vancouver was cancelled by the venue when Rose failed to turn up (having remained in Los Angeles), and a riot ensued. This tour was met with mixed results. Some concerts did not sell well, while shows in larger markets such as New York sold out in minutes. Due to a second riot by fans in Philadelphia when the band failed to show up again, tour promoter Clear Channel cancelled the remainder of the tour.
The band went on hiatus until they were scheduled to play at Rock in Rio IV in May 2004. However, Buckethead left the band in March of that year, causing the band to cancel. Also in March 2004, Geffen released Guns N’ Roses’ Greatest Hits, since Rose had failed to deliver a new studio album in more than ten years. Rose expressed his displeasure with this album as its track listing was established without his consent and went as far as trying to block its release by suing Geffen. This failed, however, and the album went triple platinum in the USA.
In February 2006, demos of the songs “Better”, “Catcher in the Rye”, “I.R.S.”, and “There Was a Time” were leaked on to the Internet through a Guns N’ Roses fan site. The band’s management requested that all links to the MP3 files and all lyrics to the songs be removed from forums and websites. Despite this, radio stations began adding “I.R.S.” to playlists, and the song actually reached #49 on the Radio & Records Active Rock National Airplay chart in the final week of February—the first time an Internet leak has done so.
On May 5, 2006, Axl Rose appeared on the Friday Night Rocks with Eddie Trunk radio show (during an interview with Sebastian Bach) and said that the new Guns N’ Roses album would be released before the end of the year. Later in May, the band launched a European tour, headlining both the Download Festival and Rock In Rio – Lisbon. Four warm-up shows preceded the tour at Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City and became the band’s first live concert dates since the aborted 2002 tour. The shows also marked the debut of guitarist and composer Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal, replacing Buckethead. During the tour, former bandmate Izzy Stradlin and ex-Skid Row frontman Sebastian Bach made frequent guest appearances.
Five warm-up shows before a 2006 North American tour were held in September 2006. The tour officially commenced on October 24 in Miami. Drummer Frank Ferrer replaced Bryan Mantia, who took a leave of absence to be with his wife and newborn child. Coinciding with the tour, the song “Better” was featured in an internet advertisement for Harley-Davidson beginning in October 2006. That same month, Rolling Stone published an article revealing that Andy Wallace would be mixing the final album.
In December 2006, Axl Rose released an open letter to fans announcing that Merck Mercuriadis had been fired as the band’s manager. He revealed that the last four dates of the North American tour would be cut so the band could work on post-production for Chinese Democracy. He also set a tentative release date for the album for the first time since the album’s announcement: March 6, 2007.
On February 8, 2007, the band played a two-song set at the Rodeo Drive’s Walk of Style ceremony, held in Beverly Hills, California. The band, with Chris Pitman on bass, blazed through “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” and “Sweet Child o’ Mine” to close the event, which honored Gianni and Donatella Versace.
On February 23, 2007, Del James announced that Chinese Democracy’s recording stage was finished, and the band had now moved onto mixing the album. However, this proved that the March 6 release date would be impossible to achieve, and the album once again had no scheduled release date.
On May 4, 2007 three more tracks leaked from Chinese Democracy; an updated version of “I.R.S.”, “The Blues” and the title track. All three tracks had previously been played live. Guns N’ Roses embarked on the 2007 leg of the Chinese Democracy World Tour in Mexico on June, followed by dates on Australia and Japan. The songs “Nice Boys” and a “Don’t Cry” Bumblefoot solo rendition were played for the first time since the Use Your Illusion Tour. The tour ended on the twentieth anniversary of Appetite for Destruction’s release date, in Osaka. During this tour, the band featured Axl Rose, Robin Finck, Ron Thal and Richard Fortus on guitars, Tommy Stinson on bass, Dizzy Reed and Chris Pitman on keyboards and Frank Ferrer on drums. .
Rose appears as a guest performer on three of the tracks on Sebastian Bach’s album, Angel Down, which was released on November 20, 2007.
On March 26, 2008, Dr Pepper announced a plan to give everyone in America—except the band’s former guitarists Slash and Buckethead—a free can of Dr Pepper if the band released Chinese Democracy before the end of 2008. Rose added, “As some of Buckethead’s performances are on our album, I’ll share my Dr Pepper with him.” With the announcement from GNR in regards to a release date in November, Tony Jacobs, Dr Pepper’s vice president of marketing for Dr. Pepper, announced a free soda coupon campaign for 24 hours on Sunday, November 23, 2008.
The next day, on March 27, 2008, the band announced that they had hired a new management team, headed by Irving Azoff and Andy Gould
On April 5, 2008, a picture of Robin Finck appeared on Nine Inch Nails web page, under the title “Welcome Back!” starting the rumour of his possible reunion with Trent Reznor. Later, on April 11, 2008, Robin Finck expressed his happiness on playing again with NIN. On April 20, 2008, on Guns N’ Roses official website, Axl Rose expressed his surprise about Robin Finck’s latest news but assure that the band was working with its management on the release of Chinese Democracy and thanked the fans for the continuous shows of support.
Nine tracks purported to be from Chinese Democracy were leaked to an online site on June 19, 2008 and quickly removed due to a cease-and-desist letter from the band’s label. Six of the leaked tracks had surfaced previously in some form, while three were new. The leaked songs were fleshed out more than previously heard tracks. On July 14, 2008, Harmonix, in conjunction with MTV Games, officially announced the release of a new song from the upcoming Chinese Democracy album, called “Shackler’s Revenge”, through their new game Rock Band 2. Also the song “Chinese Democracy” is being played on the bands website.
In late August, speculation about the impending release of the album resurfaced, further fueled by separate reports from both Rolling Stoneand Billboard about a November 25 release date as a Best Buy exclusive. This was finally confirmed October 22 when band management, Best Buy, and Interscope Geffen A&M Records officially issued a joint press release confirming the much anticipated release of the album in the US on November 23 as a Best Buy exclusive. By November 13, 2008, ten days before the official release of the Chinese Democracy album, the “Chinese Democracy” single topped the general iTunes Music Store chart in Greece, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Finland. In addition to being the No. 1 song and No. 1 rock song in these countries, it became the No. 1 rock song on iTunes in the U.S., Canada, France and the U.K.
Chinese Democracy was released on November 22, 2008 in Europe and Australia, in North America on November 23, 2008 and in the United Kingdom on November 24, 2008, becoming the band’s sixth studio album and their first since 1993’s “The Spaghetti Incident?”.
In a 2007 interview, Rose’s friend Sebastian Bach stated that Chinese Democracy will be the first installment in a trilogy of albums. Bach also remarked that Rose had told him the third, as yet untitled, album has been slated for 2012. As of yet, no member of Guns N’ Roses has confirmed this. During his time over at several of his Internet forums, Rose has made hints towards new albums and new songs, revealing several working titles.
In another 2007 interview, with the Artisan News Service on YouTube, Sebastian Bach also stated that Chinese Democracy will be the first of four new albums.
In recent years, there have been persistent rumors that the original lineup of Guns N’ Roses would reunite. However, on February 6, 2009, Axl Rose effectively put to rest any rumors of the original lineup reuniting, in an interview with Billboard’s Jonathan Cohen (his first in nine years), “I could see doing a song or so on the side with Izzy [Stradlin] or having him out [on tour] again. I’m not so comfortable with doing anything having more than one of the alumni. Maybe something with Duff [McKagan], but that’s it, and not something I’d have to really get down into, as I’d get left with sorting it out and then blamed on top of it. So, no, not me.” Rose would go on to state in the same interview that there is absolutely no chance of him ever reuniting with Slash, former lead guitarist of Guns N’ Roses: “What’s clear is that one of the two of us will die before a reunion and however sad, ugly or unfortunate anyone views it, it is how it is. Those decisions were made a long time ago and reiterated year after year by one man.”
According to various sources (although not confirmed on the band’s offical website), Guns N’ Roses will be playing on these dates:
Dec. 11 – Taipei, Taiwan – Taipei County Stadium Dec. 13 – Seoul, Korea – Olympic Park Gymnastics Stadium Dec. 16 – Osaka, Japan – Osaka Dome Dec. 19 – Tokyo, Japan – Tokyo Dome.
Nick Mason (b. 27 January 1944) and Roger Waters (b. 6 September 1943) met at the Regent Street Polytechnic in London, where both were studying architecture. They spoke for the first time with each other in 1963 when Waters asked to borrow Mason’s car. Mason played drums in a band called The Hotrods in his teenage years, and Waters played guitar. Both were avid fans of Radio Luxembourg and their shared tastes led to a friendship based on a mutual appreciation of music.
The pair first played together in a band formed by Keith Noble and Clive Metcalfe, along with Noble’s sister Sheilagh, an occasional singer in the band. They were joined later by fellow student Richard Wright (b. 28 July 1943). With the addition of Wright the band became a sextet, and took the name Sigma 6. Wright’s girlfriend Juliette Gale was often a guest artist, and Waters initially played rhythm guitar, before moving to bass. Early gigs were for private functions, and the band rehearsed in a tearoom in the basement of Regent Street Polytechnic. Sigma 6 played songs by The Searchers as well as material written by fellow student Ken Chapman, who became their manager and songwriter. Wright taught himself to play guitar aged 12, and also played trumpet and piano, but uncertain about his future he had enrolled at Regent Street Polytechnic in 1962. His first meeting with Waters had been when the latter asked to borrow a cigarette (a request Wright declined). He took private lessons in musical theory and composition at the Eric Gilder School of Music, and although Mason and Waters were competent students, Wright found architecture of little interest and he left the polytechnic after a year of study, moving to the London College of Music.
In September 1963 Mason and Waters moved into the lower flat of Stanhope Gardens, a house owned by a part-time tutor at the Regent Street Polytechnic, Mike Leonard. Leonard was a designer of light machines (perforated discs spun by electric motors to cast patterns of lights on the walls; these would be demonstrated in an early edition of Tomorrow’s World), and for a time performed alongside the band, as a keyboardist. They used the front room of the flat for rehearsals, where all the equipment was permanently set up. Mason later moved out of the flat, and accomplished guitar player Bob Klose moved in. Their name changed several times, from the Megadeaths, to the Architectural Abdabs, and the Tea Set. Metcalfe and Noble left the band shortly thereafter.
Syd Barrett, then aged 17, arrived in London in the autumn of 1963, to study at Camberwell College of Art. Encouraged by his father, who died when Barrett was 14 years old, he learned to play the piano, the banjo, and the guitar. Keen to help her son get over the loss of his father, Barrett’s mother encouraged his band, The Mottoes, to perform in their front room. Waters and Barrett were childhood friends, and Waters often visited such gigs. He joined the Tea Set in 1964, and moved into Stanhope Gardens alongside Klose and Waters. Mason found him “delightful”, and recalled their first meeting:
In a period when everyone was being cool in a very adolescent, self-concious way, Syd was unfashionably outgoing; my enduring memory of our first encounter is the fact that he bothered to come up and introduce himself to me.—Nick Mason,
As “The Pink Floyd Sound”
With the Tea Set lacking the vocals of Noble and Metcalfe, Klose introduced them to Chris Dennis, a technician with the Royal Air Force. During Dennis’ tenure, the Tea Set acquired an alternative name—the Pink Floyd Sound. The name was derived from the given names of two blues musicians that Barrett had in his record collection—Pink Anderson and Floyd Council. On the spur of the moment, Barrett created it upon the discovery that another band also named Tea Set were to perform at one of their gigs.
Dennis was posted to Bahrain, thrusting Barrett into the spotlight as frontman. Minus Wright—who had taken a break from studying—they acquired studio time between 1964–1965. They recorded a cover version of “I’m A King Bee”, and songs written by Barrett, using the recordings as promotional material. Meanwhile, Wright had recorded and published a song called “You’re The Reason Why”, for which he was paid an advance fee of £75. They later became the resident band at the Countdown Club near Kensington High Street in London, and played three sets of 90 minutes from late at night, until early the following morning. According to Mason, this period “… was the beginning of a realisation that songs could be extended with lengthy solos.” They auditioned for the ITV programme Ready Steady Go! (whose producers expressed enough interest to invite them back into the studio audience the following week), another club, and two rock contests. Bob Klose left in 1965, at the behest of his father and college tutors, and Barrett took over on lead guitar.
They began to receive paid bookings including at the Marquee Club in March 1966 where they were watched by Peter Jenner. The band played mostly rhythm and blues songs, but Jenner was impressed with the strange acoustic effects that Barrett and Wright created during their performance. Jenner traced Waters and Mason to their flat, and with his business partner and friend Andrew King was subsequently invited to become their manager. Although the pair had little experience of the music industry, they shared an appreciation of music, as well as a childhood history. Using inherited money they set up Blackhill Enterprises and purchased new instruments for the band, as well as equipment which included a Selmer PA system. Under their guidance, they began performing on London’s underground music scene, notably at a venue booked by the London Free School in Notting Hill. At the All Saints Hall they were confronted by an audience whose members were often under the influence of drugs, and who arrived with few or no expectations. Question and answer sessions would often be held following each performance. The Pink Floyd Sound felt encouraged to work on the instrumental excursions they had experimented with at the Countdown Club, and rudimentary light shows projected by coloured slides and domestic lights were used to powerful effect. To celebrate the launch of the Free School’s magazine International Times, they performed at the opening of The Roundhouse, attended by 2000-strong crowd which included such celebrities as Alexander Trocchi, Paul McCartney, and Marianne Faithfull. Jenner and King’s diverse array of social connections were meritorious, gaining the band important coverage in The Financial Times and The Sunday Times.
At the launching of the new magazine IT the other night a pop group called the Pink Floyd played throbbing music while a series of bizarre coloured shapes flashed on a huge screen behind them. Someone had made a mountain of jelly which people ate at midnight and another person had parked his motorbike in the middle of the room. All apparently very psychedelic.—The Sunday Times,
By October 1966 the band were playing more of Barrett’s songs, which would later feature on Pink Floyd’s first album. Their relationship with Blackhill Enterprises was strengthened when they became full partners, each with an unprecedented one-sixth share. More gigs followed, including at the Commonwealth Institute, and one at a Catholic youth club whose owner refused to pay. At a magistrates’ court a judge agreed with the owner, who claimed that the band’s performance “wasn’t music”. This was not the only occasion on which they encountered such entrenched opinions, but they were better received at the UFO Club in London. They enjoyed playing there, and used the in-house lighting to good effect. Barrett’s performances were exuberant, “… leaping around and the madness, and the kind of improvisation he was doing … he was inspired. He would constantly manage to get past his limitations and into areas that were very, very interesting. Which none of the others could do.” The audience was receptive to the music they played, but unlike some of their spectators they remained drug-free —”We were out of it, not on acid, but out of the loop, stuck in the dressing room at UFO.”
Although in 1967 Mason admitted that the psychedelic movement had “taken place around us—not within us”, the Pink Floyd Sound were present at the head of a wave of interest in this new style of music. There was substantial interest from record companies, and steered by Joe Boyd in January 1967 they recorded several songs at Sound Techniques in West Hampstead, including “Arnold Layne”, and a version of “Interstellar Overdrive”. They also travelled to Sussex and recorded a short music film for “Arnold Layne”. Despite early interest from Polydor, the band signed with EMI with a £5,000 advance, and Boyd was unfortunately left out of the deal.
Signing with EMI
The demands of live performances, academic study, and regular paid work, were incompatible, which prompted Waters to leave his job as an architect; Wright had long-since devoted his time purely to music; Barrett stopped attending the Camberwell College of Art; and Mason took a sabbatical from college. The concerns of EMI over their psychedelic connections saw the band give several interviews to the press, to distance themselves from such associations. “Arnold Layne” was their first single, released on 11 March 1967. It was banned by several radio stations for its vague references to sexual perversions, but due to some creative manipulation at the shops which supplied sales figures to the music industry, it peaked at #20 in the UK charts.
Pink Floyd (the definite article was dropped at some point in 1967) replaced their ageing Bedford van with a Ford Transit, and used it to travel to over two hundred gigs in 1967 (a ten-fold increase on the previous year). They were joined by road manager Peter Wynne Willson, with whom Barrett had previously shared a flat. Willson updated the band’s lighting rig, with innovative ideas such as the use of polarisers, mirrors, and stretched condoms. On one occasion the group’s van was stopped by police, who were surprised to see one of the roadies cutting a pile of condoms with scissors. Some venues were hostile to rock bands, insisting on raised auditorium lighting—a problem the band often solved with the use of an air-rifle. The rigours of touring were not without their own rewards; finances were tight, so much so that on one ferry crossing one of the roadies bet Waters £20 that he would crawl from one end of the boat to the other, barking like a dog—a bet he subsequently won.
“See Emily Play” was Pink Floyd’s second release, recorded at Sound Techniques in London. It was initially called “Games for May”, and premièred at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London over a month before its release on 16 June 1967. They premièred a device built for them by an Abbey Road engineer, known as an Azimuth co-ordinator (an early quadraphonic system). Their use of a bubble machine and the scattering of flowers resulted in a ban from the hall. They performed on the BBC’s Look of the Week, in which they faced rigorous questioning from Hans Keller. Along with Waters, Barrett appeared erudite and engaging. The single fared slightly better than “Arnold Layne”, and after two weeks was at #17 in the charts. The band mimed the single on the BBC’s Top Of The Pops, and returned for another performance when the single climbed to #5. A scheduled third appearance was cancelled when Barrett refused to perform. At about this time the other band members began to notice changes in Barrett’s behaviour. By early 1967 he was regularly using lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), a psychedelic drug, and although initially it seemed to lead to further inspiration and creativity, at an earlier show in Holland, Mason observed Barrett to be “completely distanced from everything going on, whether simply tripping or suffering from a more organic neural disturbance I still have no idea.”
The Piper at the Gates of Dawn
Contractual obligations meant that the band’s first album was recorded at EMI’s Abbey Road Studios in London. Bryan Morrison, their agent, had been instrumental in arranging the band’s contract with EMI, through producer Norman Smith. Although in his 2005 autobiography Mason recalled the sessions as relatively trouble-free, Smith disagreed, and claimed that Barrett was unresponsive to his suggestions and constructive criticism to sing new takes in exactly the same way as previous versions. They experimented with musique concrète, and were at one point invited to watch The Beatles record “Lovely Rita”. Jeff Jarrett was a tape operator at the time, and enthused about their live performances. Both Jarrett and Waters have since surmised that the band’s psychedelic take on music may not have been entirely compatible with the more conventional arrangements preferred by Smith.
The Piper at the Gates of Dawn was released in August 1967. Pink Floyd continued to perform at the UFO Club, and drew huge crowds, but Barrett’s erratic behaviour caused them serious concern. The band initially hoped that his deterioration was a phase that he would soon pass through, but other people, including Jenner, and June Child, were more realistic:
… I found him in the dressing room and he was so … gone. Roger Waters and I got him on his feet, we got him out to the stage … and of course the audience went spare because they loved him. The band started to play and Syd just stood there. He had his guitar around his neck and his arms just hanging down.—June Child,
To the band’s consternation, they cancelled a performance at the Windsor Jazz Festival, and informed the music press that Barrett was suffering from ‘nervous exhaustion’. Jenner and Waters arranged for Barrett to see a psychiatrist, but he did not attend. He was sent to Formentera, along with Sam Hutt—a doctor well-established in the underground music scene—but later showed no signs of improvement. A few dates in September were followed by their first tour of the United States, and in his capacity as tour manager Andrew King travelled to New York to begin preparations. The tour suffered serious problems. Visas had not arrived, prompting a series of “hasty” phone calls and the cancellation of the first six dates. Elektra Records had turned Pink Floyd down, and so the band were by default handled by EMI’s sister company, Capitol, which assigned them to their subsidiary, Tower Records. Tower released a truncated version of The Piper at the Gates of Dawn (which allowed them to release the missing tracks separately) on the same date as the band’s American première at The Fillmore in California, on 26 October 1967. Communication between company and band was almost non-existent, and Pink Floyd’s relationship with Tower and Capitol was therefore poor. Barrett’s mental condition mirrored the problems that King encountered; when the band performed at the Winterland Ballroom, he detuned his guitar during “Interstellar Overdrive” until the strings fell off. His odd behaviour grew worse during further performances, and during a recording for The Pat Boone Show he confounded the director by miming the song perfectly during the rehearsal, and then standing motionless during the take. King quickly curtailed their visit to the US, sending them home on the next flight. At one point, Waters found Barrett asleep in his motel room, a cigarette burning through his fingers (a scene that would later inspire a shot in their 1982 film The Wall). Shortly after their return from the US, beginning 14 November the band supported Jimi Hendrix on a tour of England, but on one occasion when Barrett failed to turn up they were forced to replace him with David O’List. Barrett’s depression worsened the longer the tour continued. Wynne Willson left his role as lighting manager at the end of the Hendrix tour, and allied himself with Barrett, whose position as frontman was now becoming insecure. He was replaced by John Marsh. Pink Floyd released “Apples and Oranges”, but for the rest of the band Barrett’s condition had reached a crisis point, and they responded by adding a new member to their line-up.
David Gilmour (b. 6 March 1946) was already acquainted with Barrett, having studied modern language in the early 1960s at Cambridge Tech while Barrett studied art. Gilmour had started playing guitar aged thirteen, and the two played together at lunchtimes, with guitars and harmonicas. They later hitch-hiked and busked their way around the south of France. Gilmour had also seen the Tea Set perform while playing in Jokers Wild, at a party in Cambridge in October 1965. At an event near the end of 1967 the band asked Gilmour to become the fifth member of Pink Floyd. By coincidence Barrett had already suggested adding four new members, in the words of Roger Waters, “… two freaks he’d met somewhere. One of them played the banjo, the other the saxophone … [and] a couple of chick singers”. Steve O’Rourke, one of Bryan Morrison’s assistants, gave Gilmour a room at his house, and he was promised a salary of £30 per week. One of Gilmour’s first steps as a member of Pink Floyd was to purchase a custom-made yellow Fender Stratocaster from an oft-frequented music shop in Cambridge; the instrument became one of Gilmour’s favourite guitars throughout his career with Pink Floyd. Blackhill officially announced Gilmour as the fifth member of Pink Floyd in January 1968. To the general public he was now the second guitarist, but privately the rest of the band saw him as Barrett’s replacement, as the latter’s performances continued to ebb. One of Gilmour’s first duties was to pretend to play a guitar on an “Apples and Oranges” promotional film.
The idea was that Dave would be Syd’s dep. and cover for his eccentricities. And when that got to be not workable, Syd was just going to write. Just to try to keep him involved, but in a way where the others could work and function.—Peter Jenner,
In a demonstration of his frustration at being effectively sidelined, Barrett tried to teach the band a new song “Have You Got It Yet?”, but changed the structure on each performance—making it impossible for them to learn. Matters came to a head on the day they were due to perform in Southampton. When somebody in the van asked if they should collect Barrett, the response was “No, fuck it, let’s not bother”.
Waters later admitted “He was our friend, but most of the time we now wanted to strangle him.” For a while Barrett still turned up to the occasional gig, apparently confused as to what was happening in the band. As a result of his de facto removal, Pink Floyd’s partnership with Peter Jenner and Andrew King was dissolved in March 1968. Barrett’s departure was officially announced on 6 April 1968. Jenner and King, who believed that the creative spirit of Pink Floyd derived almost entirely from Barrett, decided to represent him, and ended their relationship with Pink Floyd. Bryan Morrison then agreed that Steve O’Rourke should become Pink Floyd’s manager. Waters was determined not to let Barrett’s removal destroy the band, but although the changeover between Barrett and Gilmour was something of a relief, it was also a difficult time for Gilmour, who was forced to mime to Barrett’s voice on the group’s European television appearances. Although Barrett had been their main songwriter, Waters and Wright created new material, such as “It Would Be So Nice”, and “Careful With That Axe, Eugene”. “It Would Be So Nice” was a commercial failure despite some controversy over the inclusion of the words The Evening Standard in the lyrics. The BBC refused to broadcast the song, and the band had to spend extra money in the studio to change the word ‘evening’ to ‘daily’. They developed their new material while playing on the University circuit, and were joined by road manager Peter Watts before touring across Europe in 1968.
Saucerful of Secrets
In 1968 the band returned to Abbey Road Studios with Smith, to record their second studio album. They already had several songs recorded with Barrett, including “Jugband Blues” (his final contribution to their discography). Waters wrote three songs, “Let There Be More Light”, “Corporal Clegg” (which alludes to Rogers’ obsession with war and the military), and “Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun”. Wright contributed “See-Saw” and “Remember a Day”. The band continued the experimentation seen on The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, recording some material at their homes, a process that Smith encouraged. He remained unconvinced by their music, but played drums on “Remember a Day” when Mason struggled with the song.
Norman gave up on the second album … he was forever saying things like, “You can’t do twenty minutes of this ridiculous noise.”—Richard Wright,
Neither Waters or Mason could read music, and both created the album’s title track “A Saucerful of Secrets” by inventing their own system of notation, something which Gilmour later would comment looked “… like an architectural diagram”. A Saucerful of Secrets was released in June 1968, and received mixed reviews. Record Mirror wrote positively, urging listeners to “forget it as background music to a party”, and John Peel claimed that the album was “… like a religious experience …”, however NME was critical of the title track, claiming it to be “… long and boring, and has little to warrant its monotonous direction”. The album cover was designed by Storm Thorgerson and Aubrey Powell of Hipgnosis. On the same day, the band performed at the first free Hyde Park concert (organised by Blackhill Enterprises), with Roy Harper and Jethro Tull. Bryan Morrison sold his business to NEMS Enterprises, and Steve O’Rourke became Pink Floyd’s personal manager. O’Rourke was considered by the band as a “great deal-maker”, whose business acumen overshadowed his lack of interest in aesthetic matters. Thus the band were able to take complete control of their artistic outlook. The band returned to the US for their first major tour, accompanied by Soft Machine and The Who.
In 1968 the group worked on the score for The Committee, and just before Christmas that year released “Point Me At The Sky”. It was no more successful than the two singles they had released since “See Emily Play”, and it was to become the band’s only single for several more years (“Apples and Oranges” was not released in the US). In 1969 the band composed the soundtrack for More, directed by Barbet Schroeder. The work proved important; not only did it pay well, but along with A Saucerful of Secrets the material they created would become part of their live shows for some time thereafter. A tour of the UK followed through the spring 1969, ending at the Royal Festival Hall in July 1969. It was memorable for the band, but more so for Gilmour who was thrown across the stage by an electric shock caused by poor earthing. The performances, built around two long pieces called The Man and The Journey, were enhanced with performance art created by artist Peter Dockley, and some of the sound effects were later used on 1970’s “Alan’s Psychedelic Breakfast”.
While composing the soundtrack for Zabriskie Point (directed by Michaelangelo Antonioni) the band spent almost a month in a luxury hotel in Rome. Waters has since claimed that the work could have been completed in less than a week, but for Antonioni’s continuous changes to the music. Eventually he used recordings by the Grateful Dead, The Youngbloods, Patti Page, and the Rolling Stones, but three of Pink Floyd’s contributions remained. One of the pieces turned down by Antonioni would eventually become “Us and Them” on Pink Floyd’s 1973 The Dark Side of the Moon. The band also did some work on the soundtrack for a proposed cartoon series called Rollo, but a lack of funds meant that the series was never produced, and away from Pink Floyd, Waters scored the soundtrack to the 1970 film The Body (directed by Ron Geesin).
Ummagumma and Atom Heart Mother
Pink Floyd’s next album was something of a departure from their previous work. Ummagumma, a double-LP released on EMI’s Harvest label, contained barely any new compositions. The first two sides of the album were live acts, recorded at Manchester College of Commerce and at Mother’s Club in Birmingham. For the second LP, each member was given one half of each side on which to experiment. The album was released to positive reviews in October 1969.
Ummagumma was quickly followed by 1970’s Atom Heart Mother. The album apes the work produced at the time by groups such as Deep Purple and Emerson, Lake and Palmer. The band’s previous LPs had been recorded using a four-track system, however Atom Heart Mother was their first to use eight tracks of audio. An early version was premièred in France in January 1970, but disagreements over its direction prompted the arrival of Ron Geesin, who worked for about a month to improve the score. Production was troublesome, with little creative input from the band, but with the aid of John Aldiss the album was eventually completed. Gilmour has since dismissed Atom Heart Mother as “a load of rubbish”, and Waters was similarly dismissive, claiming that he wouldn’t mind if it were “thrown into the dustbin and never listened to by anyone ever again.” Norman Smith was given only an executive producer credit, his final contribution to the band’s discography. With Thorgerson’s distinctive image of a cow on the front cover, Atom Heart Mother was nevertheless massively successful in the UK, and was premièred at the Bath Festival on 27 June 1970.
In 1971 they took second place in a poll of readers by Melody Maker (behind Emerson, Lake and Palmer), and for the first time in their history were making a profit. However the theft in New Orleans of equipment worth about $40,000 almost crippled the band’s finances. The local police were unhelpful, but within hours of notifying the FBI the equipment was returned. Both Mason and Wright were now fathers, and both bought homes in London. Gilmour, still unmarried, moved to a 19th-century farm in Essex. At his house in Islington, Waters installed a home recording studio in a converted tool-shed at the bottom of his garden, shared with his wife, a potter.
- The Piper at the Gates of Dawn (1967)
- A Saucerful of Secrets (1968)
- Soundtrack from the Film More (1969)
- Ummagumma (1969) Live/Studio
- Atom Heart Mother (1970)
- Meddle (1971)
- Obscured by Clouds (1972)
- The Dark Side of the Moon (1973)
- Wish You Were Here (1975)
- Animals (1977)
- The Wall (1979)
- The Final Cut (1983)
- A Momentary Lapse of Reason (1987)
- Delicate Sound of Thunder (1988) Live
- The Division Bell (1994)
- Pulse (1995) Live
- Is There Anybody Out There? The Wall Live 1980–81 (2000) Live
- London ’66-’67 (1967)
- Live at Pompeii (1972)
- Pink Floyd The Wall (1982)
- Delicate Sound of Thunder (1988)
- La Carrera Panamericana (1991)
- Pulse (1995)
Acclaim and honours
In 1980 The Wall won a Grammy for ‘Best Engineered Non-Classical Album’, and in 1982 the film of the same name won a BAFTA for sound. “Marooned” won a Grammy in 1995 for ‘Rock Instrumental Performance’. On 17 January 1996 Pink Floyd were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Billy Corgan presented the the award to Gilmour and Wright, who remained onstage to perform an unplugged rendition of “Wish You Were Here”. Almost ten years later on 16 November 2005 they were inducted into the UK Music Hall of Fame, and presented with an award by Pete Townshend. Gilmour and Mason attended in person, explaining that Wright was in hospital following eye surgery, and Waters appeared on a video screen, from Rome. In a BBC radio interview shortly after the ceremony, Mark Radcliffe asked them if they were tempted to perform on the night, to which Gilmour replied that although they’d enjoyed Live 8, a performance for the award show would have been unlikely. In 2008 they were awarded the Polar Music Prize for their contribution to contemporary music. Waters and Mason were present at the ceremony, where they received the prize from King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden.
The group has sold over 200 million albums worldwide, including 74.5 million certified units in the United States. Its members have benefited substantially from their musical activities. The Sunday Times Rich List 2009 ranks Waters at #657 with an estimated wealth of £85m, Gilmour at #742 with £78m, and Mason at #1077 with £50m. Wright does not appear on the list.
A number of notable musicians and bands from diverse genres have been influenced by Pink Floyd’s music. These include David Bowie, Blur, Tangerine Dream, Nine Inch Nails, Dream Theater, My Chemical Romance, Nazz, Queen, The Mars Volta, Phish, Radiohead, Porcupine Tree, and the Smashing Pumpkins. Italian composer and conductor Martino Traversa listened to the group as a teenager. The Pet Shop Boys paid homage to The Wall during a performance in Boston.
On 8 February 1995 the opening sequence of “Time” was played as a wakeup call for the crew of space mission STS-63.
- Slipknot (1999)
- Iowa (2001)
- Vol. 3: (The Subliminal Verses) (2004)
- All Hope Is Gone (2008)
These statistics were compiled from the RIAA certification online database.
Grammy Awards and nominations
Slipknot has been nominated for seven Grammy Awards and has won once. They were also nominated at the 2008 VMA’s, in the category of Best Rock Video, for the single “Psychosocial.” They lost it to Linkin Park’s “Shadow of the Day”.
- “Wait and Bleed” – Best Metal Performance, 2001 (nomination)
- “Left Behind” – Best Metal Performance, 2002 (nomination)
- “My Plague” – Best Metal Performance, 2003 (nomination)
- “Duality” – Best Hard Rock Performance, 2005 (nomination)
- “Vermilion” – Best Metal Performance, 2005 (nomination)
- “Before I Forget” – Best Metal Performance, 2006 (winner)
- “Psychosocial”- Best Metal Performance, 2009 (nomination)