The all-time classic album was released in March 1973 – but what do you know about the making of this masterpiece?
The songs were performed live before being recorded in the studio
One of the main ideas behind The dark side of the moon was that Pink Floyd created an album that could be played in its entirety, meaning the material was road tested long before the band hit the studio.
Some of the new songs made their public debut at the Brighton Dome on 20 January 1972, while the full Dark Side Of The Moon suite was unveiled to the press over four nights at the Rainbow Theater in Finsbury Park in February 1972. melody maker called the work “lacking in frame and design”.
Pink Floyd weren’t the first band to use the title Dark Side Of The Moon
Floyd’s intention was to make an album about mental health and the fragility of life. The phrase “dark side of the moon” was an ideal metaphor for both the unknown and old and outdated concept of “crazy” (a term derived from the Latin “luna” and the idea that the mental state of a person fluctuated around the phases of the moon).
However, this idea was scrapped when Stafford-based prog rockers Chief of Medicine released their third album on John Peelit’s Dandelion label in the spring of 1972. It was called Dark Side Of The Moon.
“We were annoyed because we had already thought of the title before the release of the Medicine Head album,” said the guitarist. David Gilmour said later. Pink Floyd then suggested that the new album could be called Eclipse…that is, until Medicine Head’s album failed to chart commercially – it didn’t even make the UK Top 40 and turned out to be their last outing for Dandelion. This meant that Pink Floyd could go back to their original idea.
Paul and Linda McCartney were supposed to appear on the album…but were left out.
Dark Side Of The Moon was recorded at the famed Abbey Road Studios which came in handy for one of the bassists ROger Waters‘ ideas. “I wrote questions about a deck of cards. Whoever was in the building came and did. They read the top card and answered it – with no one else in the room. So, for example , when it was written, ‘When was the last time you were violent? The next one said, ‘Are you right?’ The questions that provided us with the best material were those on violence.”
Frequenting Abbey Road at the time were Paul and Linda McCartneywho worked on the second wings album, Circuit of the Red Rose. The celebrity couple were recruited to answer Waters’ questions, but did not respond. “He was trying to be funny,” the frustrated Pink Floyd man later told biographer John Harris, “which wasn’t what we wanted at all.”
However, Wings guitarist Henry McCullogh ended up on Dark Side Of The Moon: it’s the voice that says “I don’t know… I was really drunk at the time” at the end of Money.
Naomi Watts’ father appears on the album
The actress, who is now best known for the films The Ring, King Kong and Mulholland Driveis the daughter of Peter Watts, Pink Floyd’s road manager at the time. Watts is one of the random voices that pops up throughout the album, laughing repeatedly and thinking about morality: “I never said I was afraid to die.” Watts died of a heroin overdose in 1976, aged just 30.
The album features British-made synthesizers!
The sounds heard on the track On the run are made by the VCS-3, a small synthesizer made by EMS, Electronic Music Studios. It was nicknamed “The Putney”, as EMS offices were based at Putney Bridge in South West London. Pink Floyd also used the EMS Synthi A, which was a portable synth that could be carried in its own suitcase.
A color is missing in the spectrum on the cover design
hipgnosisthe art collective featuring Storm Thorgerson and Aubrey Powell, designed the cover of Dark Side Of The Moon, which was produced by a graphic designer George Hardy. Commissioned by the group to come up with a “simple and bold” design, the finished artwork features a beam of white light shining through a prism, which then fragments the ray into its constituent colors. However, there is one color missing from the spectrum: indigo. The illustration shows red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple.
The band would stop recording to watch Monty Python
Engineer Alan Parson recalled that Pink Floyd’s studio routine would change depending on the day of the week. “If it was football night, we always finished early,” he told Rolling Stone in 2003. “If it was Monty Python night, we’d do the same thing. Roger was very fond of football .Very often they would stop for Monty Python and let me do a big mix up.”
Python’s third series began on BBC-1 in October 1972, right in the middle of the Dark Side Of The Moon sessions, although David Gilmour claims the band were more disciplined than people made out. “We used to watch them sometimes, but when we were on a roll, we kept going,” he told Uncut.
Pink Floyd were genuine fans of Python – so much so that they invested some of the profits made from Dark Side Of The Moon in financing the film Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
No singles were removed from Dark Side Of The Moon
Pink Floyd’s last UK single was Point me to the sky in December 1968, which failed to trouble the rankings. Next to Led Zeppelin, Floyd became one of those “serious” and progressive bands that focused more on albums than on the increasingly irrelevant world of singles. So in their native Britain there were no singles – you had to experience Dark Side Of The Moon as a whole piece. In the United States, it was a different story, and Money was dropped from the record, making #10 on the Cash Box Chart when backed by any color you like.
The idea that you can sync Dark Side Of The Moon with The Wizard Of Oz is a myth
A long-standing urban legend says that if you start playing Dark Side Of The Moon at the same time as MGM’s lion roars for the third time at the start of the 1939 fantasy classic, The Wizard of Oz, you will notice that the music seems to comment on the action of the film.
For example, The Great Gig In The Sky takes off just as the twister comes to pull Dorothy away; Dorothy opens the door to see the Land of Oz for the first time just as Money comes into play; and the record’s final heartbeats play as Tin Man reveals he has no heart.
When asked about this theory in 1997, drummer Nick Mason told MTV: “It’s absolute nonsense. It has nothing to do with The Wizard of Oz. Everything was based on The sound of music.”
Dark Side Of The Moon is the seventh best-selling album of all time in the UK
Pink Floyd’s 1973 masterpiece lines up behind Queen The biggest hits, ABBA Gold, The Beatles’ Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Orchestra, Adele’s 21, (What’s the story) Morning Glory? by Oasis and michael jackson‘s Thriller in the UK bestseller list, with 4.47 million copies sold.