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30 fascinating facts about DSOTM
- Dark Side has sold approximately 34 million copies worldwide.
- The album hit number one on the
US charts for one week in 1973. David Gilmour had had a bet with
manager Steve O'Rourke that the album wouldn't crack the US top 10.
- In the UK the album made it to
the number two spot. When it was re-mastered and re-released for the
20th anniversary in 1993 with special packaging it made it to number 4.
- In Belgium and France it was No.
1, No. 2 in Austria, No. 3 in Australia, and No. 4 in Holland; it was
No. 5 in Spain, Finland and Germany but not at the same time, and made
it to No. 8 in Brazil in August 1973.
- The album is listed in the
Guinness Book of World Records for being on the charts longer than any
other album in history, namely 591 consecutive weeks or 11.4 years in
Billboard top 200! A total of approx 14 whole years (741 weeks) in and
back in top 200, and a staggering 26 years in some Billboard chart or
- SoundScan, the chart tabulators
in the US, recently listed the top 200 selling albums of the year 2002.
Dark Side was again on that list. It sold roughly 417,000 copies in the
US last year, making it the 200th top selling album. It is by far the
oldest album on the list.
- The original title for the album
was Eclipse (A Piece for Assorted Lunatics). The band were upset to
find out that the progressive folk rock act Medicine Head had released
an album with the title of "Dark Side of the Moon" as recently as 1972
on John Peel's Dandelion label. Since the release was less than
successful sales-wise, the band decided go ahead with their plans.
- The music and lyrics for the
entire album were written during a seven week period in which the band
were preparing for a tour in which they desperately wanted to premier
- Cue Cards with generic questions
were written up by Roger and given to roadies, anyone at Abbey Road,
doormen, and members of Wings including Paul and Linda McCartney.
Approximately 20 questions were asked along the lines of, "Are you
afraid of dying?". "When was the last time you were violent and were
you in the right?", and "What does the phrase 'The Dark Side of the
Moon' mean to you?". The most spontaneous answers to these questions
appeared on the album. Paul and Linda didn't make the cut but Wings'
guitarist Henry McColluch did providing the "I don't know I was really
drunk at the time" response to the question regarding violent behaviour
used at the fade out of Money.
- The "stoned" laughter used in
the background of Speak to Me and Brain Damage is from Peter Watts, a
road manager for the Floyd pictured on the back of the Ummagumma
sleeve. His daughter, Naomi Watts, is a famous actress that has
appeared in several films and was named one of the 50 Most Beautiful
People by People Magazine in 2002. Sadly, Peter Watts died of a drug
overdose in 1976.
- Studio time would be typically
interrupted for one of two reasons, either soccer or Monty Python
television broadcasts. In fact, Pink Floyd were such Python fans that
they used some of the money they made from the initial success of the
album to help fund Monty Python's The Holy Grail film.
- The album was recorded at Abbey
Road on then state of the art 16-track equipment. Roger created the
tape loops necessary to achieve the rhythmic chiming of the sound
effects for Money. Due to the technology of the time, this meant
physically cutting and mending bits of tape together in precise
measurements using a ruler and feeding these manually into a tape
machine for duplication.
- The slide guitar heard on Breathe was a pedal steel that David Gilmour purchased in a pawnshop in Seattle back in 1968.
- Alan Parsons recommended Claire
Torry for vocal duties on The Great Gig in the Sky. At the time Torry
was an EMI staff songwriter who wanted to branch into vocals. Torry was
paid double the standard session wage at the time for this particular
session since it was on a Sunday. At the time, she was very happy with
what she received. No one could foresee the impact and longevity the
resulting album would have.
- Parsons received a Grammy as the record won the "Best Engineered Album" award.
- Australian radio listeners voted the album the best album to have sex to in 1990.
- The album marked the first time
that Roger Waters wrote all of the lyrics. He has stated that he made a
conscious effort to employ words that were very straightforward and
easy to understand.
- The album was first performed
live at the Dome in Brighton, England on the 20th of January 1972. Due
to a tape malfunction, the concert only made it as far as 'Money' that
evening, but the band continued to perform the suite at almost every
show after that date right up until a performance at Knebworth on the
5th of July 1975.
- Hipgnosis studio suggested the
album be issued as a gatefold with inserts of two posters, one for fans
(photos of the band) and one for art (photo of pyramids), and two
stickers, day and night, which refer to the touring aspect in the
lyrics . All this was to be housed in a card box. EMI agreed to
everything except the box. Hipgnosis provided the outer cover design,
the prism against black, which referred to the band's inventive use of
lights on stage, the triangularity symbolising mad ambition, and the
cool graphic in answer to a request from Richard Wright for something
less pictorial and more iconic.
- The design of the inner spread
of the gatefold, featuring the spectrum heartbeat, echoing the audio
heartbeat at the beginning of the album, was an idea from Roger Waters.
- Us and Them was originally
written by Richard Wright in 1969 as an instrumental piano solo
intended for use in Michelangelo Antonioni's Zabriskie Point film which
the band had been commissioned to score. The piece, then known as The
Violent Sequence, was to be used over slow-motion scenes of student /
police riots at UCLA. It was rejected for the film and resurrected for
Dark Side after Waters penned the lyrics. Tapes exist of the band
performing it as The Violent Sequence early in 1970.
- The Great Gig in The Sky was
originally known as The Mortality Sequence. It featured a similar piano
introduction but no female vocals. Instead, taped readings from the
Book of Ephesians, a recital of The Lord's Prayer, and a narrative from
Malcolm Muggeridge, a controversial host of a religious program on the
BBC, were used.
- A rough version of Brain Damage was written around the time of Meddle and was actually known as "The Dark Side of the Moon".
- The inspiration for Breathe was
from a song Roger Waters had written and recorded in 1970 as part of
the soundtrack for a film about human biology called "The Body". The
opening lyric is the same in both songs. The original song was a
protest of man's destruction of nature for profit, a theme that has
appeared on more than a few Waters' compositions.
- Although the band made a point
of not releasing any singles in Great Britain for ten years after
1969's Point Me at The Sky failed to make an impression, two singles
from the album were issued in the States. An edited version of Money
was issued in May of '73 backed with Any Colour You Like. This peaked
at number 13 on the Billboard Top 40. An edited Us and Them backed with
Time ("severely" edited with the rotatoms spliced unnaturally onto the
end of the song in place of the Breathe reprise) was also issued in
February of '74. Despite heavy FM airplay, the track wasn't AM radio
friendly enough and the record only made it to 101 on the chart.
- The album has been released in
various audiophile pressings and limited collector's editions including
coloured vinyl editions. Colour completists would need to find a German
pressing on white vinyl from 1977, both blue and clear vinyl versions
from France also pressed in the late 70's, an Australian pink vinyl
version (of the quad mix!) from 1988, and another white one from
Holland also from 1977. In addition, there are two official picture
discs of the vinyl version still circulating the collector's markets,
one from the US on Capitol, and one from the UK only briefly available
as part of a box set "The First XI" that was released in 1979 (only
1000 were made available to the public).
- EMI organized a launch of the
album for the press at the London Planetarium. An interesting choice
since at this time the band was trying hard to shed their image as a
space-rock band. The quadraphonic mix, supervised by Alan Parsons, was
to be used for this reception but instead the band learned that the
record would be played back in stereo and through an inferior sound
system. Only Richard Wright showed up. Life size cardboard cut-outs of
the other band members were used in their absence.
- Pink Floyd were excited to be
able to develop new material on the road but were horrified to learn of
a bootleg album that was released of a complete performance of the
piece recorded in February of 1972 at the Rainbow Theatre. The bootleg
was issued a mere six weeks after the concert, about a full year prior
to an official release. Professionally packaged, the unit reportedly
sold in excess of 100,000 copies, many thinking it was the real thing.
- Throughout the 1990's rumours
persisted that the album was intended to be played back while watching
The Wizard of Oz. Many similarities were depicted between the music,
lyrics, and the film. The band have denied that the classic film made
an impression on them while recording the album, but if you want to
judge for yourself be sure to start the CD at the third roar of the MGM
lion at the start of the film!
- A little known fact about the
album is that at the end of Eclipse, just as the final voice states
that "there is no dark side of the moon really, as a matter of fact
it's all dark", if you listen very closely, perhaps with your
headphones on and the volume full blast (preferably with the new 5.1
SACD), you will hear an instrumental, muzak version of Ticket to Ride
by the Beatles being played in the background. It was probably being
played in the main offices of Abbey Road where the record was recorded
and picked up by the microphones, perhaps while conducting the
interview with Jerry Driscoll, the doorman at Abbey Road, which led to
the response heard.