Pink Floyd: 32 Million Seconds and Counting

Industry body PPL has just come out with the staggering statistic that Pink Floyd have generated 32 million seconds of airplay on UK TV and radio in the 21st century. I had two immediate thoughts on hearing this statistic. Firstly, that it is an absolutely incredible figure and secondly (and much less importantly) how did they manage to calculate that? I hope it didn’t involve someone sitting there with headphones on feverishly pressing calculator buttons!

Seriously though, that stat shouldn’t shock any music lover. When you think about it, Pink Floyd are undoubtedly one of the giants of the last 50 years of British rock music. Their stature is such that they are deserving subjects of a V&A exhibition exploring their history and influence. The magnificent Their Mortal Remains exhibition runs at the V&A until October and if you haven’t already seen it then I would urge you to make the effort. You wont be disappointed.

Amazingly it is 50 years this week since the release of their debut album (and still my personal favourite) The Piper At The Gates of Dawn, which featured Syd Barrett. I’m sure lots of people will have other favourites, particularly Dark Side of the Moon or The Wall but I love Syd and this classic slice of psychedelia is always the Floyd record of choice for me.

Very helpfully (and it also makes for a great quiz) PPL have provided a top 20 of Floyd tracks that have been played the most on UK TV and radio this century; no doubt making up a large chunk of those 32 million seconds of broadcast time.

I’m not going to give it all away because that would spoil the fun, but you probably wont be too surprised to learn that the ‘most played’ of their tracks is ‘Another Brick In The Wall (Part 2)’ - I’ll give you a bonus point though if you can remember the year.

What this Top 20 illustrates beautifully is the amazing body of work Pink Floyd have produced over their 50 years and their ability to evolve and keep making records people want to hear. Their 1967 debut single ‘Arnold Layne’ (which I still love) features in the chart, but another one of their singles from the same year comes in even higher in this Floyd top 20.   You will have to work that one out for yourself but, if you really need a clue, David Bowie released a brilliant cover version of the song.

The late, great John Peel once spoke about Pink Floyd’s anonymity, suggesting they could have joined the audience at one of their own gigs without being recognised. The band, in fact, seemed to revel in this anonymity, never appearing on an album cover after 1969’s Ummagumma and promoting one tour with a press photo that featured the band showing their backs to the camera.

But their album covers were never dull and their partnership with Hipgnosis was responsible for the striking Dark Side of the Moon cover amongst others. This remains one of the most recognisable album covers ever, over 40 years later and will forever be a record I associate with being a teenager. Getting into Dark Side of the Moon felt like a right of passage and proved you were serious about music and had grown out of that frivolous pop music that ‘kids’ listened to.

At BME we celebrate the early psychedelic Pink Floyd period with a Hapshash and the Coloured Coat designed poster of a 1967 gig at they played at the UFO Club in Oxford Street in London. We also have a Michael McInnerney poster of the famous ’14 Hour Technicolour Dream’ poster held at the Ally Pally in London in the same year. It was organised by the UFO club creator John ‘Hoppy’ Hopkins as a fund raiser for underground magazine International Times. Pink Floyd performed as did the likes of Soft Machine and performance artist Yoko On. John Lennon and Jimi Hendrix were in the audience on a night viewed by some as a high point of the UK’s psychedelic movement and the largest acid ‘freak out’ ever to hit London.

(The posters are on loan to the BME by kind permission of Peter Golding)

PPL is the UK music industry's collective management organisation (CMO) for performers and record companies. They licence recorded music in the UK when it is played in public or broadcast and ensure the revenue flows back to PPL members.

For further information on their work and to see the full Pink Floyd top 20 go to www.ppluk.com

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