Let's start with a run-on sentence...
Back in the balmy Fall of 1971, a friend of mine, actually pretty much my older brother/ mentor at the time, John Taylor, the lead singer of the mythical band we were 'putting together' with me on guitar, becoming The Planets a year later, had some connection to a small but very prestigious poetry magazine. I believe they might've even published some of his poetry (among other things, John was actually a very good, very serious, poet!). Anyway, John, quite the schmoozer, convinced the editors that the magazine would benefit by featuring an interview with a member of the most 'poetic' (you love it, right!) of all rock bands, Pink Floyd, and that he'd be the perfect interviewer.
The magazine was well known enough (although I've forgotten it's name) that Pink Floyd's publicist had no problem green-lighting an interview to take place the afternoon of the upcoming New York show on their "Meddle" tour.
On the assigned day, I eagerly tagged along with John and his girlfriend, Scottie. We rode up the big midtown hotel's elevator, knocked on the door of the room we were told was Roger Waters' (oh, goodie, Roger should be fun). Sure enough, Roger opened the door, beckoned us in, and, to my involuntary gasping astonishment, sitting around the room were all three of the other Floyds.
They were all dressed more or less the same; tight black or navy blue t-shirts, dark slacks (no jeans), sedate black Granny-Takes-A-Trip boots with moderate 2-inch heels, almost as if they were in uniform. They were elegant. They were imposing. This hotel room was very close quarters.
All four guys were frankly staring at us. Not quite hostile, but... A poetry magazine?!
A leery "Who are these goofballs?" seemed to be the initial first-15-seconds attitude all four Floyds were giving off like radiation.
"Oooo, the poets are here everybody!"
Silly Pythonesque shouting from the instantly and shockingly jolly and beaming Pinks. They were having us on! I instantly loved them.
They were already a huge band and getting bigger. We were full-blown fans. It was one of those moments where I had to make necessary mental adjustments not to start babbling and/or drooling.
We introduced ourselves, threw a few hipper-than-hip compliments at them, and some, "The band we're in...'s", too (some fellow-musician-cred hopefully established).
They'd all stood up and shook our hands, then flopped down and lounged on the twin beds, David Gilmour and Nick Mason on one, Rick Wright and Roger on the other. I sat in the straight-back chair by the requisite writing desk in all hotel rooms closer to Dave and Nick, while interviewer John and Scottie crouched/sat on the floor between the beds for the next hour or so.
When we first sat down, I reminded David that about 8 weeks earlier I had stopped and talked to him outside the Granny Takes A Trip shop on King's Road in London that August. He stared for a second and then decided he remembered me. I was amused and sorta flattered that he thought to do that.
Once we'd settled in, the very first thing the band did was ask us (me, John, Scottie) to be the judges of an American Accent Contest they were having... Huh?! Totally goofy shit! Uh, you guys are the cerebral and majestic Pink Floyd, right?
We watched as Nick, Roger, and Richard (Dave didn't take part since he was American... his Brit accent very very mild back then) took turns calling room service to order... Nick went first, totally overdoing it...
"Ahhh wannuh a cheeezzzburrrgurrrr wit' awwwl duh trimmins an' a chacklit mulkshake!"
"Oh, that was perfectly ridiculous, Nick... Listen and learn..." said Haughty Roger. Mr. The Wall dialed the room service number...
"Yeahhhh, hey babe, look, dis izz rum twennytreeohtree eggin... Lemme git a tuner saludd samwitch an' summ frahhhs annna lodge pottuhh kawfeee...Oh, ann extree kawfeee cups fuh ma frenns."
This game had all four of them in hysterics. Richard tried, but couldn't pull his off because he would start laughing as soon as he got 4 or 5 syllables into a practice run.
And that was before we poetic interviewers broke out the Uhmurrkin Reeeeffuh...
Oh no we dih int! Oh, yes, we did... and all four Floyds partook!
Most of the time, I remained out of the questioning, although a few times I did change the course of the chatting with some pithy little stinkbomb observation. I was a wise ass, and God bless him, John was actually trying to stay true to the basic vision of the poetry magazine that had approved this interview (of course, the only real true reason for which was to meet Floyd, natch). Consequently, he was asking some truly esoteric questions, and getting esoteric answers.
I would get bored and shoot my mouth off, maybe slag some band who I thought was ripping Pink Floyd off and the Floyds would smirk and make semi-diplomatic catty remarks.
At one point, I asked David how he was managing not to go deaf. I'd just started to wear earplugs when I played guitar through my monstrous Hiwatt 200 amp and was abashed that no one else I knew was doing the same. The answer I got from Gilmour was vague and offhand. Roger Waters berated him for not being more specific.
"He's asked you a perfectly good question, David. Your answer sucked! He wants to know... [yelling] WHY... AREN'T... YOU... DEAF... DAVID?!"
Roger seemed to relish his self-appointed role as in-house heckler.
I also asked Gilmour if it had been hard to not develop an English accent over his years in London and he said "Yessss, well... it has bean rawthuhh difficult, really... " with an overdone posh 'n' pompous English accent. More laughter from one and all.
At one point, interviewer John asked something along these lines...
"Pink Floyd have fans that love the first three albums, the stuff that's weird and rocks. How do you reconcile with them over the heavy classical leanings of 'Atom Heart Mother'? I mean, I know that Binky here was disappointed with that album for that very reason."
Instantly, the four Floyds broke into mock wailing...
"Oh my God, we've disappointed our Binky. Oh no..." moaned David.
Nick Mason yelled, "Where's a razor! I'm ending it all!"
Rick said, "It's in the loo, I'll get it."
Roger hid his face in hands sobbing, "Binky hates me!"
We were all high. It was very funny.
The only other thing I recall for sure was that at least four or five times, after a particularly nifty query on our part, the band would all look at each other with almost awe and say something like, "Wow, no one's ever brought that up before! How did you know that?!" Genuinely impressed and even frankly baffled!
Back then, me and my pals were Floyd Freaks! We knew our shit! It was great fun, and a source of even greater pride, to blow their minds with our knowledge of their own minute details.
Things wound down and David and Roger both made comments about what an interesting and out-of-the-ordinary interview we'd done. Rick and Nick "Here! Here!"-ed.
Considering how acrimoniously they ended, it was a moment when they seemed extraordinarily close and on the same page, other than Roger's occasional knee-jerk needling.
I relish the memory.
Not long after, going against the popular tsunami of acclaim, "Dark Side Of The Moon" actually sorta chased me away from Pink Floyd. But, for me, their early work is eternally monumental.
Fast Forward to 2011: Speaking of "Dark Side...", my dear pal, Ray Gmeiner, at Capitol Music Group, is the kind of guy who invites me to everything. Thanks, as always, sir. Last year, at his insistence, I went to the Hayden Planetarium here in NYC to attend a special listening party for the forthcoming DVD/CD of Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon", recorded live at Wembley Stadium in the early 1970s.
I arrived as the cocktail party portion of the evening was winding down in the enormous and ultra-modern lobby of this Astronomy wing of the world famous American Museum of Nature History. Ray greeted me with his usual warmth. He then pointed to a distinguished bloke in a very classy gray suit, "Binky, that's Nick Mason. Go say hello!"
I walked over, introduced myself, and told him the following story... "When I was 14, I bought your first album solely on the strength of how cool you guys looked on the cover and how weird your band name was. [Nick gave a big smile to that] Took it home, put it on... Oh my God, Nick, I hated it! I didn't understand any of it. I'd wasted all that money! A whole week's allowance! Now, every Saturday morning, my mother made me wax the living room floor, down on my knees, scrubbing Butcher's Wax into wood. I decided that I'd make "Piper at the Gates of Dawn" my wax-the-floor music, trying to make my investment worthwhile. So, every Saturday I listened and slowly learned to understand and love that record. It's in my all time top ten albums."
He smiled graciously.
I went on to remind him of the interview I'd done with Pink Floyd for a poetry magazine almost 40 years ago. "Poetry magazine?!", Nick was mildly incredulous.
I then thanked him for all the years of musical pleasure and Mr. Mason said...
"Oh no, thank you! I now know what to tell people when they ask me how they should listen to our music. While you're waxing the floor!"
I wish I could rave about the next part of the evening... We, all 200+ of us, were taken upstairs to the actual planetarium. The lights went down, the music came up, at concert volume, (Wwwwow!) and the curved ceiling of the planetarium exploded in swirling stars and planets.
Now, I have an inner ear problem brought on by decades in front of Marshall stacks. It's called positional vertigo.This light show, typical of planetariums, attacked my inner gyroscope. Within minutes, my head was swimming, my stomach churning. I couldn't take it. I lurched out of my seat. Thank God, everyone was looking up. I doubt anyone saw me careening to the exit like a drunkard. I was nauseous for three frickin' hours.
But, man, the music that I heard was amazingly good. Almost duplicating the recorded version, this live version has an element of Pink Floyd that I always loved but rarely heard on recordings... Roger Waters' punk-bass playing! Man, he just hammered the poor thing throughout and it added this great gritty rock feel to the otherwise almost-too-majestic proceedings.
After I escaped the vertigo-inducing bombardment to my senses, I got lost and went down the wrong staircase. I was suddenly in the African diorama room. Alone with the elephants, gazelles, lions... like that Ben Stiller movie. Yes, I was in the Museum of Natural History after 9pm with no one aware I was there! I tentatively walked up some stairs and down some halls. I had the place to myself. I even had some reefer on me! But, dammit, I was too dizzy and sick to enjoy it. Rats! I found an exit, nodded to the disconcerted guard as I walked out, and aimed myself towards the subway station home.
Amusing Semi-Tangential Oddball Tidbit: Years ago, I had a lawyer named Floyd. He was old. He would call me (and this happened at least a dozen times) and actually bark, "Bink? Floyd..." and he had no idea why I sometimes had to stifle a cackle.