"Pink Floyd: The Early Years" book
Written by Matt   
Tuesday, 26 September 2006

A superb new book focusing on the formative years of the Floyd is being published at the end of October this year.

"Pink Floyd: The Early Years" has been written by Barry Miles, which will be a familiar name to many Floyd fans, having penned "The Visual Documentary" - a book which for many years was a standard reference to the group. Miles saw the band play when they were still called "The Pink Floyd Sound" and he wrote the first ever article about them for a New York underground newspaper in 1966.

pfmilesHe also knew the band members socially, witnessed the rapid decline of Syd Barrett and became actively involved in setting up some of Floyd's major gigs.

In the publicity for the book, the reader is promised an "authentic and compelling story of the group that gave alternative London its first real soundtrack and launched on the rock world a radical combination of music, light shows and pyrotechnic stage effects, a revealing diary of Pink Floyd's daily routine, from their roots in Cambridge to cult status in Sixties London."

It is often said that you if you remember the sixties, you weren't really there. If that's the case, Miles must be the exception that proves the rule. With an incredible depth of information, the text transforms the reader back to that decade, with rich, illuminating atmosphere. His friendship with the band members results in the sort of detail that hasn't been uncovered elsewhere, with revelations that have come from them, or their families, even back to schooldays:

"Cross-country running was a good lesson for [Syd] to sneak away from; he would start the run with the rest of the boys, drop back, then go home, get in an hour of painting, return to the route and join the run somewhere towards the end, huffing and puffing as if he had run the entire distance..."

With his knowledge of the Cambridge crowd, he paints a detailed picture of how the different people, and bands, intermingled, and how their paths would inexorably cross.
There is a lot of detail on the events of the so called "underground" scene - the publications, the clubs, and the people involved. Some of this will be familiar, but not drawn in such sharp relief. With Miles closely involved with a lot of the early, band-related events (or happenings), you get a really good "insiders" view of the staging and problems involved. No rose-tinted spectacles here, Miles reveals the basic (and distinctly dangerous at times) nature of the early shows:

"[The Roundhouse] floor was thick with a century of dirt; in fact, there may not even have been a proper floor, just equipment housings. Twisted iron jutted up from bits of broken concrete. People formed an enormous line outside; the only way in was up a very long narrow single-file staircase. It was so narrow that no-one could leave while other people were coming up, it was impossible to squeeze past...

Then the Pink Floyd climbed onto the rickety old cart [which was used as a stage] and their fans from the All Saints Hall gigs pushed the loon dancers out of the way to stand at the front..."

It makes a very nice change to read about the various events from someone who was very closely involved with each of them - there is such a difference to the normal coverage of the shows, using second or even third hand information.

The book covers the band's story in impressive, and intimate, detail - from the birth of each musician, right up until Dark Side Of The Moon, when they had self-confessedly achieved all that they had set out to do - the big album, success, fame, money, etc.. Leaving no stone unturned, it covers all their important early concerts, the problems that beset Syd, and how various personnel got involved with the band.

Whilst we've not seen the final, printed version of the book itself (having read the author's manuscript for the book), we've been assured that it is going to be lavishly illustrated with a large number of unusual, early shots of the band. Irrespective of this, the text itself is totally absorbing, and will keep your attention wrapt from beginning to end. The addition of these pictures should be like icing on the cake!

With luck, Miles will be encouraged to turn his attention to the later period of their story, and cover that with a similar level of detail and substance.

This book, a true essential for the Floydian bookshelves, can be ordered through the following special links, for delivery upon release: Amazon UK, Amazon US/International, Canada, Germany, or France. Any item bought through these links at Amazon (not just Floyd items) helps with the running costs of the site, and we really appreciate it.

Last Updated ( Thursday, 09 November 2006 )