This feature originally ran in 2014. We’re reposting as Animals gets set to turn 40 later this month.
And so, the final bell tolls over the career of Pink Floyd. Spanning six decades, 15 studio albums, and five band members, the legendary UK outfit’s career is both elevated and stained by the excess of genius. Each member was a savant in their own right and extraordinary as both a performer and composer. Yet such talent inevitably warrants a touch of madness, as proven by the group’s extraordinary highs and excruciating lows. Throughout their sordid career, the band fought against label expectations, their own fame, the interior of their minds, and each other.
This endless conflict, however, influenced some of the most moving and beautiful rock music ever recorded. At the center of every delicious pop melody was the ashy taste of personal excoriation: Syd Barrett, Roger Waters, David Gilmour, Nick Mason, and Richard Wright each took a turn burning their interior selves to the ground, all before they built themselves up again. They did more than write songs; they projected personal yet universal thought patterns into the world, altering the history of music, art, and expression.
With the release of their fifteenth album, The Endless River, the powers that be have declared the end of Pink Floyd. In honor, we take this opportunity to reflect upon the long, fruitful career of a band that was always too smart and too daring to live forever.