Punk Floyd: Lydon “Likes Pink Floyd” – And When Floyd Worked With The Damned


Rat Scabies Captain Sensible

Plus – Pink Floyd Back Catalogue To Appear On Spotify…

Whilst doing what passes for research at Every Record Tells A Story (which basically amounts to reading the sort of books I would be reading if I wasn’t doing any research) I discovered that Pink Floyd had a forgotten role in the punk movement. You could, as the rather neat saying goes, have knocked me down with a feather. Pink Floyd with hidden punk inclinations? That’s like accusing Boyzone of having talent. It’s the most astonishing and unpleasant revelation since Janet Jackson‘s wardrobe mysteriously malfunctioned.

Pink Floyd hid their punk roots from me for some time. They’re not prime candidates – after all didn’t John Lydon once sport a rather fetching “I Hate Pink Floyd” T-shirt? Didn’t David Gilmour once sport a “I hate The Sex Pistols” T-shirt? (Er, no he didn’t).

But then John Lydon will reveal on his BBC Radio 6 Music show today (filling in for Jarvis Cocker) that he only wore the t-shirt for effect, making a statement by wearing this provocative hand-written (the “I Hate” legend was written in marker pen above a regular Pink Floyd shirt)  shirt down Chelsea’s King’s Road at “a time of football violence” and that (pause for another astonishing revelation) “I like Pink Floyd”. Yes, he actually says that – citing Arnold Layne as a particular favourite.

And if that lightning bolt was not enough, Lydon goes on to claim that such was his liking of Floyd that he even named Sid Vicious after Syd Barrett.

It also appeared that there was some mutual appreciation going on from the other side of The Wall. Floyd were aware of the punk movement – their own “Animals” album was a (slightly) harder edged reaction to punk in the same way that Presence by Led Zep was, and drummer Nick Mason was quoted at the time as saying “Of course you don’t want the world populated by dinosaurs, but it’s a terribly good thing to keep some of them alive”. He has a lovely way with words, does Nick Mason.

The Big Punk Floyd moment is described in the pages of Inside Out, Mason’s (brilliantly entertaining) biography. Mason was asked by his publisher to produce an album by The Damned. “I don’t think I was first choice” he notes dryly. (They wanted Syd – but this was “impractical”).

“Unfortunately they were having a nasty dose of musical differences at the time. The suggestion of a particular bass line using a glissando slide was rejected out of hand and the idea of more than a couple of takes was seen as heresy.” However, it seems that Mason did the job, which he summed up in the best possible way:

“We finished the album and mixed it in the time Pink Floyd would have taken to set up the microphones”.

Perhaps this culture clash is best summed up by Mason’s description of the two leaders of the band: Rat Scabies and Captain Sensible, the latter of which he felt was the more intelligent, if that’s the word I am looking for…

Mason continues: They were both “of the punk persuasion – but of the two I found the Captain considerably more alarming. Though Rat might set fire to something on the spur of the moment, the Captain would have spent some time beforehand carefully assembling highly flammable materials…”

So there you have it. Pink Floyd, closet punks. Who’ll be the next band to show their punk influences? One Direction? Nah, now that would be ridiculous…

Pink Floyd’s back catalogue will be available on Spotify soon – just as soon as they achieve one million streams of “Wish You Were Here”. You can help them achieve that aim by playing the song below… 

John Lydon’s show is broadcast between 4pm and 6pm on BBC Radio 6 Music. Click this link for more information

Nick Mason’s Book “Inside Out” is highly recommended

Record #203 : Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here



Categories: Rock Music

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8 replies

  1. Well written and entertaining as usual. I found this one of particular interest having written Thugs Like Us, a punk novel. In it, the musical ‘tension’ between two of the main characters is punk vs Pink Floyd. Where Jimmy gets off on The Pistols and The Damned, Bill is totally into Floyd and even goes as far as explaining the deep and meaningful lyrics to his punk buddy ad nauseam.
    Confession time – I’m Jimmy and my best mate Bill (Phil) got me into Floyd. To find that The Damned and Floyd’s path crossed in this meaningful way is not at all shocking. I think The Black Album is a punk concept album, and those two shouldn’t even be in the same room, ever. Not even for a fight. But at the end of the day, they’re all musicians and musician, as we know have EGOS!
    And finally, to discover Lydon is a Floyd fan is not surprising in the least. He likes butter too.

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  2. We all love Pink Floyd, don’t we? “Dark Side of the Moon’ and ‘”Wish You Were Here” especially.

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  3. Pink Floyd. Hmm. I spent years believing that Dark Side of the Moon was the greatest album ever because someone told me it was; and then more years more believing that I had been so misled and PF were in fact one of the dullest acts around. Eventually I started all over again and got to appreciate their music rather than their reputation. Arnold Layne is a great song – do you know the version sung by David Bowie as a guest at a Gilmour concert? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K499HpGF46E

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  4. Agree about Mason’s book—great.

    I don’t think Lydon really likes Pink Floyd. He just says that now because they are still cool and he isn’t. A few years ago, I saw Malcolm McLaren on the telly in a chat show praising the Bee Gees’ Saturday Night Fever and also saying that he always liked it. Yeah, right.

    I recently read an interview with Joe Bonamassa in Classic Rock where he reveals that Lydon is a neighbour who doesn’t know that Joe plays guitar. 🙂

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