Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Pink Floyd: vipers at the gates of dawn

Pink Floyd, summer 1967 - note the hip fans in the background,
and Roger's crotch - I do hope he wasn't cheating
Pink Floyd were making waves in the UK underground as of late 1966, and by the spring of 1967 the mainstream pop press was taking note too. I thought I'd throw a few early items up from one of the best music papers of the period, Disc & Music Echo. 

'Arnold Layne' was released on March 11th, and reviewed by Penny Valentine the same day (lucky girl, she must have had one of the promo copies in a picture sleeve):

On March 25th the paper ran this wittily-headlined piece, which is perhaps where most of their future fans first learnt names such as 'Mick Mason' and 'Syd Barratt'. It also makes an intriguing reference to their plans for 'a possible television series':

The same issue contained this letter,  penned by an aggrieved pop fan who clearly didn't like the winds of change that were blowing through the hit parade:

The missive provoked this furious reply:

Disc & Music Echo clearly sided with Elaine, as the April 1st issue contained the following back-page feature, somewhat bizarrely contributed by Mick Jagger's younger brother Chris:

The April 8th issue contained two interesting items. The first of them announced an important showcase gig for the quartet, as well as the television show referred to on March 25th. I have yet to encounter a subsequent reference to the latter. 'Percy The Ratcatcher' was the working title of 'Lucifer Sam', incidentally:

The wittily-headlined article below appeared a few pages later (and confuses Syd Barrett and Rick Wright, whilst also acclaiming Syd as 'the best-looking of a rather ordinary bunch'. So who really is the better looking?):

By this time, the band was not only appearing in features, but also in small ads:

'See Emily Play' was released on June 16th, and duly reviewed by Penny Valentine on the 17th (presumably she received a promo p/s for this one too, damn her):

Her lukewarm response mattered not a whit: by July they were bona fide hitmakers, and anticipation was running high for their first LP, whose title Bob Farmer excitedly announced on July 8th: Viper At The Gates Of Dawn.

On July 15th their tour dates were announced, as well as forthcoming appearances on a kids' TV show:

On July 22nd came another overview of the band (which also confuses Syd Barrett and Rick Wright, and tells us that Syd 'doesn't care about money and isn't worried about the future'):

On the same page appeared this advert:

But the album wouldn't be released for another couple of weeks. In the meantime the boys ventured to Scotland, from where Bob Farmer filed this wittily-headlined report from the glamorous Stotfield Hotel in Lossiemouth, published on July 29th:

After several delays, the album appeared on August 5th 1967. The issue of Disc that day didn't mention the LP, instead focusing on a possible circus-style tour that, according to co-manager Peter Jenner, 'could be the biggest thing to happen in pop':

At last, the album was reviewed on September 2nd by Bob Farmer (in an issue whose cover was entirely given over to a Brian Epstein tribute): 


  1. Brilliantly researched as usual, Rich

  2. great stuff!!!!

    chris in la

  3. i love your blog. thank you very much. beautiful stuff here!!!

  4. An interesting point to stop this Pink Floyd blog Richard as within days Syd Barrett's "nervous exhaustion" would be disruptive to most of the immediate plans that were in place - cancellation of high profile performances (the 7th National Jazz and Blues Festival at Windsor and at the Olympia Exhibition Hall). Some interesting items. I have a little something PF related going on at the moment. Thanks, Ross