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Pink Floyd's Iconic First Photoshoot In Ruskin Park Took Place 50 Years Ago

Syd Barrett, Nick Mason, Roger Waters & Richard Wright in Ruskin Park, London. Shot by © Colin Prime - (This NEW image is available to buy below)

In London 50 years ago photographer Colin Prime took Pink Floyd for their first official photoshoot. It took place in Ruskin Park in Denmark Hill and came about after Prime had met the band as an up and coming new group playing the London clubs—Prime was also a disc jockey as well as a photographer.

The photos see the band— Nick Mason, Syd Barrett, Roger Waters, and Richard Wright—larking about in jovial spirits in the park. Sitting on benches posing, or in or near the Ruskin Park Portico, a remaining part of the 18th century villas that once encircled Denmark Hill.

"Photographer Colin Prime was commissioned by Blackhill to take some of our first publicity shots.” Nick Mason has said about the shoot. “This session took place in Ruskin Park off Denmark Hill. "

"All the guys were in high spirits at the time (Syd was performing cartwheels) but quite laid back, so after some slightly more formal shots I experimented and came up with these images." Colin recalls.

From front to back: Syd Barrett, Nick Mason, Richard Wright & Roger Waters - Shot by © Colin Prime - (This image is available to buy below)

One of the photos from the shoot was also used by Barrett to create a silhouette illustration of the band which was used as the back cover of the group’s debut album The Piper at the Gates of Dawn.

Rockarchive is delighted to be able to release two of these historic images for the first time as limited edition photographic prints. The full collection of Colin Prime's images from this memorable shoot are available to buy here

Barrett also came up with the title of their inaugural record, naming the album after the seventh chapter from Wind in the Willows.

That album was released by EMI Columbia on 5th August 1967, four months after the shoot in Ruskin Park. It was produced by former Beatles engineer Norman Smith and interestingly, that’s not the only link to The Beatles the band share with that album.

Because when Pink Floyd were recording The Piper at the Gates of Dawn in 1967 they did so next door to The Beatles, who were in London at Abbey Road Studios recording Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Nick Mason even mentions going to watch The Beatles recording “Lovely Rita” in his 2004 memoir Inside Out: A Personal History of Pink Floyd.

“We were ushered into Studio 2, where the Fab Four were busy recording ‘Lovely Rita’.” Mason writes. “The music sounded wonderful, and incredibly professional, but, in the same way we survived the worst of our gigs, we were enthused rather than completely broken by the experience. It is hard to explain just how oddly confident we managed to remain, considering our inexperience and lack of technical proficiency. There was little if any banter with the Beatles. We sat humbly, and humbled, at the back of the control room while they worked on the mix, and after a suitable (and embarrassing) period of time had elapsed, we were ushered out again.”

Pink Floyd, Ruskin Park, Denmark Hill, London, UK 1967. Shot by © Colin Prime - (This image is available to buy below)

Pink Floyd, Ruskin Park, Denmark Hill, London, UK 1967. Shot by © Colin Prime - (This NEW image is available to buy below)

It seems it must have had some effect on Pink Floyd though, because fans of both groups have noted how both “Lovely Rita” and Pink Floyd’s instrumental track “Pow R. Toc H” from The Piper at the Gates of Dawn both sound similar. They both have comparable vocal effects and hazy sounds.

It’s now thought that considering both songs were recorded in such close proximity, there was most likely some influence from each band on each other’s work. It looks like they may have shared some of the same instruments too.

“One of the features of such a well-equipped studio as Abbey Road was that since electronic effect machines had still to be invented, the empire owned vast quantities of instruments that were scattered around the studios.” Mason also notes in his memoir. “Bell pianos, Hammond organs, clavinets, tympani, gongs, triangles, Chinese blocks, temple bells and wind machines were there to be used (and can be heard throughout Piper and A Saucerful Of Secrets, as well as, I believe, numerous Beatles records).”

You can listen to both tracks below and judge for yourself the similarities.

The Beatles - Lovely Rita - Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band - 1967

Pink Floyd - 05 - Pow R. Toc H. - The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn (1967)

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