In the course of following George’s travels in California last week, I neglected to note the release of Pink Floyd’s debut album, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn. Issued August 5, 1967 in the UK by EMI Records, Piper is a landmark in the history of psychedelic music, despite the fact that EMI’s publicity department — perhaps mindful of the backlash over Sgt. Pepper’s drug references, both real and imagined — issued a press release stating that

The Pink Floyd does not know what people mean by psychedelic pop and are not trying to create hallucinatory effects on their audiences.

Um…yeah, right.

Anyway, there is no question but that the Floyd, and especially lead singer and songwriter Syd Barrett, were heavily influenced by The Beatles; Barrett had been playing Beatles covers since the early 60s. But by this point they had developed their own sound, which was a good deal heavier and farther out than anything The Beatles ever did.

Was there any reciprocal influence on The Beatles? Hard to say; Magical Mystery Tour was already mostly done by this point, and by the time of the White Album they would already be moving away from psychedelia. It does seem likely that Piper influenced the Rolling Stones’ next album, Their Satanic Majesties Request, which shares its preoccupation with outer space and general sense of whimsy.

In any case, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn was the first and last of its kind. Barrett already had one foot in another dimension by the time it came out; before long he would be booted from the band, and that was the end of the Pink Floyd. Too bad — they coulda been somebody.

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