Pink Floyd’s ‘Dark Side’: 40 Years Later, 40 Mind-Blowing Facts About The Mad Classic
Sure, like everybody else, you’ve listened to Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon so many times that you can recite not just every line but every heartbeat, clock tick, and cash register ring by heart. But how much do you really know about the landmark prog classic, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this month?
To celebrate the 40 years we’ve been listening to what is arguably the preeminent rock album of the 1970s, here are 40 things you ought to know about Dark Side. Because lunacy breeds albums about lunacy, and albums about lunacy breed lunatic obsessions with album trivia. Let’s start with that iconic cover art, shall we?
The original prism cover
The original prism cover
One of the rejected designs involved a then-popular Marvel comic book superhero. Imagine how differently we’d think of the album if the Floyd members had expressed any interest in one of Thorgersen’s alternative ideas, to have the cover feature… the Silver Surfer!
The band had always hated having their photos in the artwork. “When Storm showed us all the ideas, with that one, there was no doubt,” guitarist David Gilmour told Rolling Stone in 2003. “It was, ‘That is it.’ It's a brilliant cover. One can look at it after that first moment of brilliance and think, ‘Well, it's a very commercial idea: It's very stark and simple; it'll look great in shop windows.’ It wasn't a vague picture of four lads bouncing in the countryside. That fact wasn't lost on us.”
It was keyboardist Rick Wright who was insistent that the cover not feature any photography at all, even conceptual photos. The Hipgnosis design team was famous for elaborately staged and photographed covers, like Wish You Were Here, which came out two years later. But in this instance, as Thorgerson remembers it, Wright “said, ‘Storm, let’s have a cool graphic, not one of your tatty [figurative] pictures…’ I protested. ‘Rick,’ I said, ‘I do images, I don’t do cool graphics.’… Whereupon Rick said, ‘Why don’t you try to see it as a challenge.’”
The prism design was partly inspired by Floyd’s extravagant live light shows. “The refracting glass prism referred to Floyd light shows–consummate use of light in the concert setting,” Thorgerson said in an interview for the album’s 30th anniversary. “Its outline is triangular and triangles are symbols of ambition, and are redolent of pyramids, both cosmic and mad in equal measure, all these ideas touching on themes in the lyrics. The joining of the spectrum extending round the back cover and across the gatefold inside was seamless like the segueing tracks on the album, whilst the opening heartbeat was represented by a repeating blip in one of the colors.”