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Pink Floyd plaque at London's Regent Street Poly - speeches & pictures Print E-mail
Written by Matt   
Saturday, 30 May 2015

Roger Waters and Nick Mason - Pink Floyd plaque unveiling in LondonAs most of you now know, on Thursday morning Pink Floyd were honoured in London with a permanent plaque affixed to the wall outside the University of Westminster (formerly the Regent Street Polytechnic), where Roger Waters, Nick Mason and Richard Wright met. Nick and Roger were both on hand to unveil the plaque in the warm, springtime sunshine which bathed the front of the building. The plaque will be a permanent fixture of the building, so fans will be able to visit it themselves when in London. The building is located between Oxford Circus, and the BBC headquarters.

The pair were presented to the press by Crown Estate's David Shaw, and the Vice Chancellor of the University of Westminster, Geoff Petts. Throughout, Roger in particular seemed in fine spirits and was clearly enjoying the experience.

Despite Roger, Nick and Richard not having actually studied at the building itself (it was at a nearby building, which has now been demolished) the plaque marks their tenure at the seat of learning. As you'll see, particularly from Roger's comments below, their studies weren't as rigorous as some people's, with Roger back and forth to the Poly.

Also included below are a further selection of exclusive shots from the unveiling, for your enjoyment. Now, here are the speeches to those present, which included family, friends and others such as Joe Boyd (pictured below with Roger, meeting as Roger arrived)…

Roger Waters and Joe Boyd - Pink Floyd plaque unveiling in LondonGeoff Petts introduced the "very special occasion" to the assembled crowd of family, friends, past and present colleagues, and press. "We're very proud of our 175 years of history. We were the first Polytechnic and now, an enterprising university. Throughout our history, we have taken great pride in three distinctive areas of our portfolio. Access to higher education for all, an academic agenda informed by practice and the professions, and an environment of formal and informal opportunities to stimulate creativity and innovation. This distinctive environment has enabled people to develop their talents, and created an alumni of many world leaders. We're an institution of firsts: the first cinema, which recently celebrated more than a century of film making with the restoration of this iconic building to be the home of British cinema. We had the first degrees in commercial music, established over two decades ago. Today, we celebrate the achievements of world-leading musicians launched in the creative world of architecture, inspired by the 1960s music revolution. We all remember that, particularly with the age of people here today."

Roger, at this point, shook his head behind Petts tutting over how rude and inappropriate that seemed!

Petts continued: "We can track the formation of bands here, at the Poly or University, popular bands, back to 1892. The Poly Mandolin Band quickly became popular, and played six times at the Crystal Palace, to audiences of over 3,000. They were the forerunners of everything we see today. In the 1960s, the student-led Poly Music Society was holding concerts by visiting and emerging artists, including up and coming bands such as The Animals, Jimi Hendrix, and of course, Pink Floyd. Today we are indebted to the Crown Estate for their generous help and support in making it possible to have this Regent Street Heritage Plaque installed to commemorate the forming of Pink Floyd, and to recognise their global achievements."

David Shaw took over the microphone: "We're delighted, in Regent Street, to be welcoming Pink Floyd at the commemoration at the Regent Street Polytechnic where the band were formed. Polytechnics in the 1960s were absolutely the right places to be, I can assure you of that - I had an amazing time. Not as good as these guys, but I had a pretty good time! Plaques across London commemorate outstanding contributions in every field, so it only seems fitting to us that Regent Street should erect a plaque to mark this site of cultural significance. This is only the second black heritage plaque to be installed. The first was over three years ago, when we put up one on Heddon Street to commemorate Ziggy Stardust. We've been working on this for about five years since we had the first idea, and we've cherished the plates for a long time, and we finally have a way of telling another part of Regent Street's great history. We're marking the place where one of the world's most iconic and influential bands of all time was formed. These are no ordinary plaques, and Regent Street is no ordinary destination.

"I hope you will not mind if I just read a few short lines from Time, that some of you I'm sure will choose as their favourite - although mine is actually to do with cigars, but there you have it!
Home, home again
I like to be here when I can
When I come home cold and tired
It's good to warm my bones beside the fire..."

In the background, Roger silently pointed out, looking in turn slightly aghast and amused, that the lyrics weren't from Time, but from Breathe (reprise)...

"I really hope that the band members present today consider Regent Street in some way part of their home, and in coming together today we do justice to their incredible achievements over the past fifty years. It's taken a lot of people to make this happen, so a big thank you for Mark Fenwick [Roger's manager] and [other key people]. But clearly, the biggest thanks of all is to Roger, and to Nick, for joining us to mark the occasion. It means a great deal, personally, to a lot of people, including me. So, thank you for coming, and I'd like to hand over to the member of Pink Floyd, Roger Waters."

Roger Waters and Nick Mason - Pink Floyd plaque unveiling in London
Roger Waters and Nick Mason - Pink Floyd plaque unveiling in London Roger Waters and Nick Mason - Pink Floyd plaque unveiling in London
Roger Waters and Nick Mason - Pink Floyd plaque unveiling in London
Roger Waters and Nick Mason - Pink Floyd plaque unveiling in London Roger Waters and Nick Mason - Pink Floyd plaque unveiling in London
Roger Waters and Nick Mason - Pink Floyd plaque unveiling in London
Roger Waters and Nick Mason - Pink Floyd plaque unveiling in London
Roger Waters and Nick Mason - Pink Floyd plaque unveiling in London

Roger pointed down a side road at where they used to attend the Polytechnic: "As I recall it was down there, wasn't it? Yeah... Well, we were here, all those years ago. Some of us for a lot longer than others. I think I was here longer than anybody else, as they kept throwing me out, and I had to do proper jobs and then come back again. Erm..."

Roger was then interrupted by a loud, police siren - twice, to some amusement - then resumed: "So, Rick Wright, who we miss was there with us. We did study architecture together. He only studied for one term, didn't he? Or was it two? [Nick: "He made a year."] He made a year. Splendid! I don't know what else to say really, except that this is an extraordinary honour to have this thing erected here. And, if I ever reach my dotage I shall come and potter by it occasionally. We haven't seen it yet but I'm sure it will be fabulous. And I'm now going to let Nick, who manfully coped through the years he did at the Regent Street Polytechnic [speak], and he, I believe, is the only one who came out of the experience as a qualified drummer! So, over to you, Nick..."

Nick: "Thank you very much. Well, obviously it was a very important day, when I saw Roger and invited him to join my band. I think all I'd really like to say, as Roger's mentioned, it is a moment to reflect on Rick, who died a few years ago now, but was such an important part of what we ended up doing.

"But also, there's a couple of other people that are connected with the Poly. One of those was a guy called Mike Leonard. For those of you who don't know the story, he was a part-time tutor here, and both Roger and I worked with him briefly, in his office, but he was very much responsible for the light and sound element of what we got into, because he also ran a course at the Hornsey Collage of Art at the same time, and so I think we owe a nod at least to Mike for what he contributed. And personally, I'd also like to thank Joe Mayo, who was my year master at the time I actually left the college, and Joe was brilliant, as he invented the gap year for me, which is something that I'm still on. At the time I was really quite alarmed at the prospect of heading off into the music industry, and he just said "That's fine, go and do it. We'll have you back." So, I've got a thank you to him for that. But, as Roger has said, I think we're delighted, honoured, and everything else, to have this plaque. Thank you all very much for turning up."

With that, Nick took hold of the curtain strings to unveil the plaque for the first time (during preparations for the unveiling, the plaque was covered with a piece of A4 paper held on with gaffer tape - no expense spared!). During the ensuing photocall, the organisers removed the curtain structure much to Roger's mock panic as it started coming down around him, but both happily posed with Petts, Shaw, and the plaque.

Later, inside the building, they talked about their early days as a band. Nick: "Put it like this, if we'd have gone up for Britain's Got Talent, I don't think we would have made it past the audition stage. We weren't terribly good." Roger then interjected with "We were effing awful!"

 
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