Read The Who’s Pete Townshend Review Pink Floyd In 1966
Words by Riley Fitzgerald
Graphic by Press
In 1967 The Who‘s Pete Townshend discovered Pink Floyd.
“On January 6, 1967, I missed one of the only Who shows of my career through drug abuse,” Townshend writes in 2012 autobiography Who I Am.
Having recently turned on to the hallucinogenic possibilities of LSD, Townshend found he had now ingested far too much of the drug to drive to a scheduled Who performance some 300 miles away.
Instead, he elected to drop in at London’s famed underground venue The UFO.
“Syd Barrett was wonderful,” Pete Townshend recalls of Pink Floyd, “and so were the rest of them. I fell in love with the band and the club itself.”
The next day, January 8th, he decided to return to with Eric Clapton in tow.
“Syd,” Townshend shares, “who walked on stage (off his head on acid), played a single chord and made it last about an hour using an electronic echo machine called a Binson. When he did start to play again he was truly inspiring.”
Townshend was also taken by the commanding presence of Roger Waters.
“Roger Waters had the most incredible presence, he was strikingly handsome,” he notes, “and clearly fancied [my partner] Karen. I found him a little scary. It was evident he was going to be the principal driving force behind Pink Floyd.”
Despite being impressed ever Pete could not have anticipated the band’s eventual rise to prominence following the release of 1973’s The Dark Side of the Moon:
“What no one could have known as the band hadn’t yet made any recordings, was how much of their music would become once Syd’s experimental influence waned.”
Townshend would later collaborate with Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour, who entered the group at the time as Barrett’s exit, on 1984 album About Face.
“Syd Barrett had simply taken too many drugs,” Townshend (writing in the guise of protagonist Louis Doxtador) later writes in 2019 novel Age of Anxiety. “And sensitive artist that he was, he eventually broke down. Nevertheless, we were all the beneficiaries of his talent and his wild mind. His early work with Pink Floyd had been sublime and anarchically adventurous.”