The History of Pink Floyd in Toronto: Celebrating Five Decades of Music and MemoriesToronto, along with its neighbouring areas, has fostered an enduring affinity with the iconic British psychedelic rock band, Pink Floyd. This bond, equally beneficial, has seen the region exert a significant impact on the band's epic legacy. Toronto's association with the band is a rich tapestry of unforgettable moments, including the unexpected debut of "Dark Side of the Moon" in 1972 and the remarkable airport rehearsal in 1987. Particularly noteworthy are the seven sold-out shows they held from 1987 to 1995 at the very site where "Their Mortal Remains" is currently on display.
During their "A Momentary Lapse of Reason" and "Division Bell" tours, Pink Floyd sold over 300,000 tickets at the now-demolished Exhibition Stadium. This exhibition signifies the culmination of an extraordinary journey that began in 1973, highlighting the significant role Toronto has played in the band's story.
A Happy Twist of Fate: The Surprise Debut of 'Dark Side of the Moon'Fifty years back, in 1973, a pleasant surprise sprung onto the Toronto radio waves: the world's first listen to Pink Floyd's masterpiece, "The Dark Side of the Moon". This wasn't some grand plan, but rather a happy twist of fate brought to life by one man, Bob Roper, the Capitol Records' Ontario representative of the time.
Roper had been handed an early copy of the album from the bosses at Capitol Records. This wasn't just any album—it was a big deal for the label. Roper's job was to get to know it inside out, to make sure he could give it the best launch possible. But Roper didn’t just take it home for a casual listen. He saw something groundbreaking in the music and decided it needed to be shared with the public, even before its official launch.
With the precious album in hand, Roper made his way to a local radio station. There, he managed to persuade CHUM FM's DJ Dave Marsden to play the whole thing on air. It was a bold move—no one played an entire album on the radio before its official release, especially not an album from a big-name band like Pink Floyd. Marsden, a self-proclaimed Pink Floyd superfan, was won over. He played it not just once, but twice over. And Roper’s gutsy move struck gold. Listeners loved it. The station was flooded with calls from fans dying to know more about the tunes they'd just heard.
This sneak peek helped drum up a frenzy of excitement for the official album release and played a big part in its instant success. "The Dark Side of the Moon" would go on to be a record-breaking hit, selling 50 million units, clinching the fourth spot for best-selling album of all time, and staying on the Billboard Top 200 chart for over 900 weeks. It was a concept album like no other, with the songs fine-tuned during live performances before Pink Floyd even set foot in the studio.
Marsden wasn't just a DJ in this story—he was a hero. He had rallied over 100,000 signatures on a petition to convince concert promoter Michael Cohl to bring Pink Floyd to Toronto for the first time. And boy, did that concert deliver! It sold out in 45 minutes, and went down on March 11, 1973 at the Maple Leaf Gardens, just 11 days after "Dark Side" was officially released. Cohl would later trust his gut again, selling out three shows at the CNE Stadium for the "A Momentary Lapse of Reason" tour.
A Fiery Farewell: Pink Floyd's Explosive Impact on Hamilton
Back on June 28, 1975, something big was brewing in the city of Hamilton. Pink Floyd, the musical giants, had come to town to perform at the Ivor Wynne Stadium. It was a day that would go down in the history books of the city. The stadium was packed to the rafters with over 55,000 fans, all buzzing with excitement, creating an atmosphere that was wild and wonderful.
The band had cooked up a real treat for the audience. The playlist was stuffed with favorites from "The Dark Side of the Moon", sprinkled with fresh tunes from their just-released "Wish You Were Here", and a sneak peek of songs that would later pop up on their "Animals" album in 1977.
This gig was the last stop on their tour, and they found themselves with a heap of fireworks left. So, what did they do? They decided to go out with a bang, literally! The show was bursting at the seams with fireworks, so much so that the scoreboard caught fire! The fans, though, they loved it. They thought it was all part of the show and the excitement only grew.
But, the fallout from this explosive night was a ban on any more concerts at the stadium. It was a night of chaos, of music, of fire, and of fun—a night that Hamilton would never forget!
Pink Floyd and Bob Ezrin: A Symphony Created in TorontoToronto's imprint on Pink Floyd's musical journey is etched vividly in their partnership with the city's very own Bob Ezrin. A maestro in the music production industry, Ezrin was the band's creative accomplice during two pivotal phases of their career.
Their first collaborative masterpiece was "The Wall," unveiled to the world in 1979. This became a crown jewel in Pink Floyd's discography, housing timeless hits like "Another Brick in the Wall, Pt. 2" and "Comfortably Numb". Interestingly, portions of The Wall found their voice in Toronto. Ezrin's inventive production methods and his knack for threading complex narratives into the music were key to shaping the album's theme and sonic profile.
Years later, Ezrin and Pink Floyd rejoined their creative forces for "A Momentary Lapse of Reason," launched in 1987. Through Ezrin's production wizardry, Pink Floyd's distinctive sound was lovingly preserved, even as fresh musical elements were woven in, keeping the band vibrant amidst the shifting musical tide of the late '80s.
Pink Floyd's Epic Saga: A Chronology of their Toronto PerformancesMarch 11, 1973, Maple Leaf Gardens - The Dark Side of the Moon Tour
June 28, 1975, Ivor Wynne Stadium in Hamilton - Wish You Were Here Tour
September 21, 22, 23, 1987, CNE Stadium - A Momentary Lapse of Reason Tour
May 13, 1988, CNE Stadium - A Momentary Lapse of Reason Tour
July 5, 6, 7, 1994, CNE Stadium - The Division Bell Tour
Fun fact: The Better Living Center, the host of this exhibition, is on the CNE site—the same hallowed ground where Pink Floyd played seven mind-blowing concerts over the years.
An Unexpected Gig: Pink Floyd's Impromptu Concert at Pearson AirportDeserving of a spotlight is Pink Floyd's 1987 North American tour, orchestrated by none other than Toronto's pride, Michael Cohl. A titan in the concert promotion world, Cohl stands as the founder and chairman of S2BN, and the Executive Producer of The Pink Floyd Exhibition. His hand in shaping the tour was unmistakable.
During this tour, Pink Floyd claimed a hangar at Pearson Airport as their rehearsal stage, conducting a thorough technical run-through of their show. As they struck chords and tested lights, a symphony of sound and spectacle seeped out of the hangar, catching the attention of the nearby airport ground crew.
In a moment of spontaneous generosity, the band flung open the hangar doors, transforming a regular rehearsal into a private concert for the mesmerized ground crew. The result? Pearson Airport experienced a series of delays that day. But for the ground crew, it was a day like no other—they had been treated to an exclusive Pink Floyd concert, right in the heart of their workplace!