Like virtually everyone else, we’re gearing up for tomorrow’s big anniversary: 50 years since Pink Floyd jammed live on the BBC.
Oh, also, the moon landing thing.
It was actually the Apollo 11 mission that brought the band to the Beeb. Like so many other broadcasters, the British Broadcasting Corporation was doing live coverage of Apollo 11, with news presenters and scientists relaying the latest developments along with the fuzzy black and white visuals coming back from outer space.
But moon missions unfolded over days. It took three days just to get there, much less the time Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin spent on the lunar surface. Live coverage of the mission meant you had to cover a lot of time.
And as guitarist David Gilmour told The Guardian newspaper, “The programming was a little looser in those days” – so the BBC decided that as a way to broaden its space coverage, and/or give its space panel a break, they brought in a band known for playing space rock.
According to Gilmour, Pink Floyd was only on the air for about five minutes, and improvised a quote “nice, atmospheric, spacey, 12 bar blues,” which they called Moonhead.
He also said the experience didn’t have much of an effect on the band’s future direction – and that’s true, since I can’t think of any Pink Floyd album that features the word “moon” in its title…
Gilmour said if nothing else, the experience has made it easy for him to remember where he was when the Eagle landed at Tranquility Base in 1969.
As for the BBC? Well, it’s marked the half century since Apollo 11 with the fascinating podcast. 13 Minutes To The Moon features new interviews, lots of thrilling audio from the archives, and original music from the acclaimed film composer Hans Zimmer.
All of it worth hearing, though if it had included the Floyd’s live moon jam, I would have been just fine with that too.
But 2019 isn’t just a big anniversary for space exploration. This year also marks 25 years since another major milestone: the time that Pizza Hut produced an ad for UK television in which all the dialogue was in Klingon. I’m sure there was a reason they did this, and I’m sure that if I spoke Klingon I could tell you what it was…
My moon-landing jam session (The Guardian)
13 Minutes To The Moon (BBC)
Photo via NASA