Pink Floyd bassist and singer, Roger Waters turned 75 today. Pink Floyd, of course, were one of the most commercially successful bands in history and they helped bring psychedelic-rock and prog-rock music to the mainstream with landmark albums like 1973’s The Dark Side Of The Moon, 1975’s Wish You Were Here and 1979’s The Wall. The band’s larger-than-life concept albums had grand lyrics that delved into topics like religion, technology, politics, war and existentialism. Their album covers have also become as iconic as the albums themselves—they’ve been on posters in college dorm rooms, on coffee mugs and on T-shirts for decades.
By 1977, the band had released 10 studio albums and it felt like they were lightyears away from their 1967 debut, The Piper At The Gates of Dawn, which was the experimental psych-pop brainchild of Syd Barrett, who left the band in 1972 and died in 2006. Their 1977 album, Animals, only consisted of five tracks and it was a George Orwell-influenced critique of British capitalism in the ’70s. The album was an obvious contrast to the growing punk rock movement, which was, in part, a reaction to the overwrought complexities of psych bands like Pink Floyd.
On May 9, 1977, Pink Floyd performed in Oakland, Calif. at the Oakland Coliseum Arena. Wolfgang’s Vault writer Alan Bershaw describes the show as one of the best performances in the band’s extensive history. Read his recollection of that night below:
With technology and audiences both at a monumental scale, the tour was not without problems. Technical issues plagued many of the shows and audience members were often disruptive by yelling and screaming during quiet passages or by setting off fireworks. However, when the band landed in California for a two-night stand at the Oakland Coliseum, these were not issues. The first night, May 9, 1977, is often considered to be one of the greatest performances of the band’s career. The band members seemed to enjoy the show just as much as their rapt audience. This show turned out to be the longest of any show on the tour, with the band delivering two powerful sets, followed by both Dark Side Of The Moon songs. The audience was so enthusiastic that the group returned to the stage and performed “Careful With That Axe, Eugene” for the first time since 1973 and for last time ever.
Certainly one of the strongest, most cohesive performances of the 1977 Tour and possibly the greatest performance of the Wish You Were Here album ever. The group would never perform another tour that so richly emphasized this material. They would also be augmented by additional musicians on future concerts, diluting the sound of the core band. Many fans consider this tour to be the greatest of the band’s career and this concert to be the definitive show of that tour.
Listen to an exclusive recording of Pink Floyd’s 1977 performance in Oakland below.