It’s been two decades since Pink Floyd released a studio album, but the legendary band is ending its recording career racing toward the top of the charts. The new album, The Endless River, was released on November 10 2014, and has already sold over 92,000 copies – cementing its status as one of the fastest-selling albums of the year.
The album was conceived as a tribute to keyboard player Rick Wright, who died in 2008. The co-founder of the band appears on the album posthumously, due to the use of previously unreleased material that was produced during the recording of their number one album The Division Bell in 1994. Also featured is Stephen Hawking – who appeared on The Division Bell track “Keep Talkin’,” and reprises that role with The Endless River track “Talkin’ Hawkin’.”
Founded in 1965 in London by Syd Barrett, Nick Mason, Roger Waters, and Rick Wright, Pink Floyd made a name for itself performing in the capital city’s underground music scene. With Barrett at the helm, the band burst into the music charts with two singles and a successful first album – The Piper at the Gates Of Dawn – in 1967. The band was joined by guitarist and friend of Barrett, David Gilmour, later that year, but lost Syd Barrett soon after – allegedly due to escalating mental health issues. Waters took the lead and helped the band shape the iconic albums released throughout the 1970s – The Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here, Animals and The Wall.
With Waters having left the band during the 1980s, and Rick Wright having passed away, guitarist David Gilmour and drummer Nick Mason are the only two artists still operating as Pink Floyd – having seen the group inducted into the US Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996, and the UK Music Hall Of Fame in 2005.
It seems the choice to produce and release The Endless River was a simple one, however, as Gilmour explained to Euronews, “I’d forgotten a lot of it, but the sort of essence of what Rick and I and Nick did together all those years ago is still there, and it was very, very obvious. So it was a quick and easy decision to think we should work on it and put it out.”
Pink Floyd’s long-time creative director, Aubrey Powell, pointed out that The Endless River purposefully represents a departure for the band that is most famous for its progressive music, philosophical lyrics, and visually stunning performances and artwork.
“This album, particularly, is very different from the previous albums. Even though it may be the last Pink Floyd album – never say never – this is more an ambient album, which is based on music that was recorded during a period of time of ‘The Division Bell.’ So it required something slightly different. And also, it may well be their last album, so it required something a little more gentle, a little more abstract, and not something that was so socially conscious.”
Speaking to ABC News, Nick Mason discussed his thoughts on the remarkable longevity of the band.
“I’ve never understood it. I keep being prepared to go out and find a proper job… but some very curious things happen when the three or four of us play together. We produce something that we don’t truly understand, but it works, and it means quite a lot to quite a lot of people.”
Those people – the band’s devoted fan base – have helped Pink Floyd to a career of over 250 million sales worldwide. Thanks to The Endless River – final studio album though it may be – that number is rising even further, even faster.