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Home arrow Articles arrow Hall of Fame induction reports arrow Pink Floyd - 1996 Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame induction speech
Pink Floyd - 1996 Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame induction speech Print E-mail


Induction speech by Billy Corgan

As part of Pink Floyd's induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, in 1996, here in its entirety is BILLY CORGAN's induction speech presented at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York on January 17, 1996...

"Hi. I know it's a little late. I'll keep my remarks to the length of an average Pink Floyd song. I'd like to start with some personal reflections.

"I grew up in the 70s and 80s. I'm roughly 28 years old. When people would say Pink Floyd, before I even heard a note, there was a certain reverence that surrounded this band. They were a strange anomaly in the 70s [which was] filled with this horrible, awful music, which some of you in this room are responsible for.

"Pink Floyd was this mix of so many things. They were a mysterious band. You didn't really know what they looked like most of the time. They had amazing artwork that had pyramids and prisms and crazy things. And the first album I heard was Dark Side of the Moon, which, as we all know, is probably one of the best albums of all time. It was probably their crowning achievement as far as people knowing what it was that they did. I first heard this album in The Wall era which, to me, at my tender age of fourteen, was too creepy, too intense, too nihilistic. And, of course, these are all the things that I believe in now.

"Through Dark Side of the Moon, I sought out their other albums and I became a fan. When I was 17 years old my grandmother was diagnosed with cancer and it was one of the most painful periods of my life. And the Pink Floyd song Wish You Were Here seemed to sum up everything that I was feeling. When I couldn't take what was going on in my life with her dying, I listened to that song over and over and it still makes me cry. It's such a beautiful song.

"You know, when you're seventeen, Heaven From Hell, Blue Skies From Pain, it means a lot.

"And so, this is why I think I'm here at this particular moment. To thank them for everything that they've ever done. Pink Floyd are the ultimate rock and roll anomaly. They sold massive amounts of records, have always been a popular live band, and they were never a singles driven band, a lesson forever needed to be learned in this particular business. Because they've always stood for, been about, music. And why? Because it is the people who listen to music that drives the business, not the other way around. They've always been a band that's thought about the fan first. And I have a lot of respect for them about that. They've always been everything that's great about rock. Grandeur, pomposity, nihilism, humour and, of course, space.

"So when I was asked to do this I thought, well, you know I could come out here and go on and on about the mystery and mythology of Pink Floyd. But I thought I'd actually go back and listen to a lot of the records that I had impressions with and had listened to, but to go back as an adult, per se, and really kind of delve into this band. So I started with the first record. Of course, with Pink Floyd, the very root of Pink Floyd surrounds the genesis with Syd Barrett. And as we all know, were so consistently amazed in rock and roll with tragedy and beauty. And Syd was both. His original artistic vision that's expressed on the first Pink Floyd record really defined what this band still continues to be, an exploration into the outer terrains of whatever it is that makes music happen.

"I'd just like to spotlight a couple records that really, to me, define what Pink Floyd's all about. After Syd went wherever Syd went, I listened to some of the records after that, and they really sounded like a band unsure of where to go. And I've even read things that they felt this way, so I don't feel bad saying that. And it wasn't until the record that they put out, called Meddle, that suddenly it had that sound, you know, galloping horses and astral planes and echoes. It's really on that record that you hear a band fusing and synthesizing something that's never been really recreated.

"Of course, Dark Side of the Moon. The ultimate synthesis of sound and vision and lyrics. It stands as a great crowning achievement in music. Again, when you really think about what kind of band Pink Floyd has been, and when you think about that album, being one of the most successful albums of all time, and you think of everything that surrounds it, it still surprises me to this day that we don't look for more Pink Floyds and less whoevers on top of the charts at this particular moment.

"So what did Pink Floyd do after Dark Side of the Moon? They made an album that was completely uncommercial. They wrote a nine part ode to their former colleague, Syd, Shine On You Crazy Diamond. It's a very poignant thing that they took the time to do this. And it was a very, very brave record to make because, even as I've read things that they've said, they felt a lot of pressure to follow up the success of Dark Side of the Moon.

"The other thing I'd like to point out is the album, The Wall, which as I said, when I was fourteen years old, was beyond my conception. But at 28 years old, it's one of the bravest records I've ever heard. And I really can't point to anything else that's ever summed up everything that's fucked up about life, everything that's fucked up about rock. It takes on politics, hero worship, rock and roll, and our desires to connect with the universe, all in one fell swoop. It really, truly is an amazing testament to how far they were willing to go to reach the outer limits of what's important.

Listening to all this music, I came up with the simple question, "Who's Pink?". Even by the band's admission, the band "Pink Floyd" is really bigger than any particular individual.

And we are here tonight inducting as much an institution, if you'll excuse the pun, as the particular members of the band. They've survived everything. I don't personally know all the politics between them all, but we have the music as a legacy. So I, personally, and I hope all of you will, salute the legacy of their bravery, courage, spirit and ultimately, their music. It's a great legacy and I wish them all well. Pink Floyd."

(Courtesy of The Pink Floyd Archives)

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