Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Pink Floyd Meet The Purple Gang

There is an invisible knife-sharp frontier between success and failure, and there are more heartbreaks and miscarriages that lie destroyed at its barriers, than the glorious few who have crossed over the well guarded border! So, too, are many who have fulfilled the demands of success, and have reached the last hurdle through blood, sweat and tears, only, due to a simple factor, have the door slam in their faces- something as simple as the title to a song.

Mid 1967 in a small studio in London’s West End, record producer Joe Boyd is busy working with two unknown, talented bands, one of the bands, Pink Floyd, who come from Cambridge, is musically psychedelic in genre, and the other is a jugband, The Purple Gang, who hail from Stockport. Both groups are recording their first singles.

Granny Takes A Trip,  1967   © David Graves
Pink Floyd are cutting a song penned by their co-founder and front man,  Syd Barret, called 'Arnold Layne' the lyrics of which are based on a transvestite whose primary pastime is stealing women's clothes and ladies ‘lingerie’ from washing lines. Whereas The Purple Gang’s  recording is named after the boutique in the Kings Road where they buy their ‘30’s style suits from- Granny Takes A Trip’; the lyrics of which tell of the unfilled dream, (already a bad omen), of a Granny who’s one ambition is to be a star, but is forever being rejected by the casting producers. 

There is as much reference to drugs in the songs’ lyrics, as in an Enid Blyton story! But in the 60’s Britain’s radio and television was mostly under the control of the BBC; and some where in one of the dingy offices of Broadcasting House, an insignificant grey looking man, seeing the word ‘Trip’ in the tune’s title, and hearing that the lead singer, Pete Walker, was also nicknamed ‘Lucifer’, came to the conclusion that the song was drug related, and therefore banned- No! - banished the song from the air waves! In passing the sentence the BBC stated that the group ‘would not be tolerated by any decent society’, a statement that today would be taken with a pinch of salt. But in those days, air play was vital to an artist’s chance of success, and possibilities were limited. The end result from this scenario being Pink Floyd, benefiting from the necessary media coverage, went on to be the legend the whole world knows; while The Purple Gang became another chapter in the book of broken dreams.

The Purple Gang 1967
 The song ‘Granny Takes A Trip’ can be found on the compilation, The Story of Transatlantic Records: the UK’s Pioneering Folk Label at Amazon.co.uk

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  1. Chris Joe Beard10 July 2012 at 23:45

    The broken dream was broken itself when I took Purple Gang 2000 to Hungary and our song became the most requested in Budapest.We knocked Britney Spears off the radio No.1 spot.Then later we knocked George Michael off the same position with another song.I wasapplauded into the BBC reception by the staff when I went on national radio to explain this.Two of Pink Floyd are sadly dead but we arre all still alive and friends. Thank you for your interest but please-less of the "loser" profile for THE PURPLE GANG.Life in Floyd looks sad when we see the documetaries.No regrets about being a Purple Gangster,-Love peace and strange scenery Joe Beard Godfather of The Purple Gang

  2. Thank you for your comment Joe!

    Love, peace and good health.