These stamps mark 50 years since Pink Floyd turned professional and became the ‘house band’ of the London Underground movement of music and arts.
Six stamps feature iconic album covers: The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn; Atom Heart Mother;The Dark Side Of The Moon; Wish You Were Here; Animals and The Endless River.
The band is renowned for its innovative album covers, many of which have become design classics. Through working with leading graphic designers and photographers, they established a body of work that is instantly recognisable, with album cover art considered among the most iconic ever created. Most of the band’s album covers were devised by Hipgnosis, co-founded by Aubrey Powell and Storm Thorgerson in 1968. They were at the forefront of album cover design, using experimental techniques in photography and multiple exposures, and retouching to create the startling images.
A further four stamps within a miniature sheet celebrate the live performances of the band. Arguably the most visually literate band of all time, as well as being one of the most successful, their live appearances were renowned. They were among the first groups to make extensive use of light shows and projection of films for their appearances, increasing in ambition over the decades.
The four images convey the experience of these live performances, from the appearances at the influential UFO Club, London in 1966 where they invented the ‘psychedelic’ light show; to the extremely ambitious staging for albums such as The Wall and the Division Bell tours.
Pink Floyd were formed when the founding trio of bassist Roger Waters, drummer Nick Mason and keyboardist Rick Wright were augmented by original guitarist Syd Barrett. In 1968, guitarist David Gilmour joined the band shortly before Barrett’s departure.
Few bands in the history of rock have managed to carve out a career as rich and expansive as that of Pink Floyd. From their blues-based psychedelic roots, the members of the outfit have created some of modern music’s most totemic and inspirational albums, with ground-breaking live performances to match.
Stamp by stamp
The Piper at the Gates of Dawn (EMI Columbia, 1967)
Pink Floyd’s psychedelic debut is named after Chapter 7 of Kenneth Grahame’s classic children’s novel, The Wind in the Willows, one of frontman Syd Barrett’s favourite books. Photographer Vic Singh shot the cover image using a prism lens given to him by George Harrison some weeks earlier.
Atom Heart Mother (EMI Harvest, 1970)
Pink Floyd’s fifth album provided them with their first UK Number One. It was also the first of their LPs not to feature the band’s name on the front of the sleeve, setting the tone for subsequent albums. Hipgnosis, co-founded by Storm Thorgerson and Aubrey Powell, designed the cover - the cow’s name is Lulubelle III.
The Dark Side of the Moon (EMI Harvest, 1973)
With sales in excess of 40 million copies worldwide, The Dark Side Of The Moon remains in the Billboard chart in America over 40 years after its release, and has been entered into the Guinness Book of Records as the longest-charting album. Created by Hipgnosis, with graphics by George Hardie of NTA, the prism device is a classic.
Wish You Were Here (EMI Harvest, 1975)
With a theme of ‘absence’, the Hipgnosis design message was summarised by Storm Thorgerson as ‘not being present in a relationship or conversation’. The concept even extended to the album being shrink-wrapped in opaque black plastic which had to be slit or removed to access the music and images.
Animals (EMI Harvest, 1977)
Animals was released as punk raged. While Johnny Rotten wore a T-shirt with the slogan ‘I Hate Pink Floyd’, Nick Mason busied himself producing The Damned’s Music for Pleasure. The photograph of Battersea Power Station features the now legendary floating inflatable pig designed by Roger Waters.
The Endless River (Parlophone Warner, 2014)
Ostensibly a tribute to the late Richard Wright and described as a ‘headphones’ album by David Gilmour, The Endless River beat all records for volumes of online pre-orders. For the album cover, Aubrey Powell discovered 18-year old graphic designer Ahmed Emad Eldin’s enigmatic work, which was recreated by design company Stylorouge and photographer, Simon Fowler.
Pink Floyd Live
While their studio work has always been important, Pink Floyd have been defined by their live performances. Their early shows in 1966 at London’s UFO Club married the use of pioneering liquid light effects that matched the psychedelic quality of the music itself.
By 1973, the band’s stage set was further expanded to mirror the dramatic sensibilities of the music: the tension that pervades The Dark Side of the Moon was reflected by lighting director Arthur Max’s innovative work, which included a 15-foot model plane flying over the audience, crashing on stage in sync with the explosion during the track On the Run. The In The Flesh Tour (aka The Animals Tour) of 1977 continued that pattern of spectacle through the use of inflatables, including the now famous pigs, and saw Pink Floyd make US stadiums their own.
Next came the Wall, Roger Water’s ambitious theatrical concept base on alienation which saw a physical wall built between the audience and the band.
Some 14 years later, spectacular stadium shows had become the norm, with Floyd underlining their status as pioneers during The Division Bell Tour, captured to great effect on the p.u.l.s.e DVD and beating all records in terms of gate receipts.
1st Class UFO Club, 1966. The UFO Club opened on Dec. 23, 1966. Pink Floyd were booked for the opening along with Soft Machine.
1st Class The Dark Side of the Moon Tour, 1973. This show included the special effect of a plane crashing into the stage at the end of the song On the Run.
£1.52 The Wall Tour, 1981. Gerald Scarfe and Roger Waters designed a series of animations for the Wall Tour. These animations were projected onto a 40-foot high wall of cardboard bricks which was gradually built between the band and audience.
£1.52 The Division Bell Tour, 1994. Over 5.3 million tickets were sold for this tour and it grossed approx. 100 million US dollars.Next: Collectors' corner >