Everyone from your mom, to the president of the United States, to the weird stoner kid who sits in the back of the class and draws pictures of cheese has heard Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon. It’s one of the biggest rock albums of all time, and this week marks its 42nd birthday.
Released on March 1, 1973, The Dark Side of the Moon was an instant hit. Topping the charts for one week before remaining on the charts for 741 more weeks, the album has sold over 50 million copies worldwide. It’s almost as if the album was fated for success.
A year before the release of the album, Pink Floyd were on tour in support of their most recent release, Obscured by Clouds. During their tour, the band began composing what would be the original versions of numerous tracks from TDSOTM. Rather than fully compose the songs, then record them, Pink Floyd began to play these demos live, as a way of expanding upon the simple riffs. In February, 1972, a complete version of the album was performed for an audience of the press, resulting in overwhelmingly positive reviews. After a year of experimenting, tweaking, and developing these tracks, the band went into the renowned Abbey Road Studio in London to record.
In a bold move of experimentation, the band prominently featured much of the industry’s newest and most advanced technology and techniques, including tape loops, musique concrète, and analogue synthesizers. In addition to the increased studio experimentation, the band’s music had also evolved from the much simpler songs of Obscured by Clouds to much grander, more fully composed movements of a suite.
Before the official release, a press reception was held in support of the album, however the final mixes were not yet finished. Instead of attending, the band sent cardboard cutouts of themselves and had the stereo mixes of the album played through a low quality PA system, yet still reviews came out positive. On March 1, 1972, The Dark Side of the Moon was officially released, leaving a monumental landmark in rock music history. Since then, the album has been remastered and reissued, covered in its entirety, and regularly appears on “best albums of all time” lists, securing as spot as Pink Floyd’s most successful release ever.
Oh, by the way, David Gilmour’s birthday is this week too.