“Moonhead” . . . : Pink Floyd Jams To The Moon Landing

Fifty years ago today, on July 20th, 1969,  Mankind did the coolest thing in it’s existence and walked on the Moon (unless you’re one of those pinheads who think it was all a hoax. In that case, just go away now and please, for the sake of an already shallow gene pool, don’t reproduce). I was eleven years ago and stuck in the back of a crowded room in upstate New York, trying to see a small television screen with lousy reception. I couldn’t see shit. Suddenly everyone begins cheering so I assumed that Neil Amstrong stepped foot on the Moon.

That’s my recollection of where I was when Man first walked on the Moon. But if you happen to be, oh let’s say, David Gilmore of Pink Floyd, it would be slightly different. A part of a live BBC broadcast centered on the Moon landing, titled So What if It’s Just Green Cheese?, Pink Floyd was commissioned to perform instrumental music live on the air as the Apollo 11 crew’s video and audio signals came through. The program included actors such as Ian McKellen and Judi Dench reading quotes and poetry about the Moon. Dudley Moore and his Dudley Moore Trio also performed, as did jazz singer Marion Montgomery but let’s face it, the only part that we care about now was Pink Floyd’s improvisational jam session.

In the summer of 1969, Pink Floyd was nowhere near the superstar level they would reach in the ’70s. With songs such “Astronomy Domine” and “Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun”, they were an underground band whose psychedelic explorations were firmly associated with outer space. That and having already appeared on various U.K. TV programs, made them uniquely qualified for the task.

David Gilmore from a 2009 inrerview with The Guardian:
“It was a live broadcast, and there was a panel of scientists on one side of the studio, with us on the other. I was 23. The programming was a little looser in those days, and if a producer of a late-night programme felt like it, they would do something a bit off the wall. Funnily enough I’ve never really heard it since, but it is on YouTube. They were broadcasting the moon landing and they thought that to provide a bit of a break they would show us jamming. It was only about five minutes long. The song was called Moonhead — it’s a nice, atmospheric, spacey 12-bar blues.”

The music produced by the group that night was very trippy, with a dark ambient vibe that is sometimes reminiscent of the early Pink Floyd tune “Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun”. In the beginning there are a few bits of dialogue spoken over the music but it’s not too overbearing. Otherwise it’s a interesting bit of pre-Dark Side Of The Moon Pink Floyd jamming away and being a part of history.

Pink Floyd “Moonhead” -1969


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Posted in Classic Rock, Improvisation, Jam Band, Music Appreciation and Analysis

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