Pink Floyd, the band that recorded 1973’s Dark Side Of The Moon, has been shrouded in a cloak of mystique and myth from almost the beginning of their existence. One more legendary moment came to light during the celebration of the fortieth anniversary of man’s first steps on the moon. In the BBC studios with scientists and producers during the opening hours of the Apollo 11 mission to the moon, Pink Floyd was the pivotal component in a magical moment that was as rare as a Blue Moon.
The result of that moment was a rarely heard Pink Floydian musical trip titled Moonhead.
July 1969, The National Aeronautical Space Agency (NASA) was on the cusp of not only fulfilling the promise that President John F. Kennedy made in 1962, but also reaching the pinnacle of mankind’s dream of reaching up and touching the moon.
There was magic in every corner of our planet as the three American astronauts risked everything while making the journey to the cold, scarred surface of the moon. As those three brave souls trekked to the moon by way of controlled explosions, the rest of the world watched and held its breath. All troubles between us seemed to be washed away as Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins raced to the moon.
The magic didn’t escape the confines of a television broadcasting studio. In the BBC studios in London England. In the television studios to do some taping for a later broadcast, members the band Pink Floyd were caught up in the moment and watching the live broadcasts of the Apollo 11 mission. An idea sparked. The band started to play a “free style jam” as the scientists, who were acting as commentators, were taking a break. The producers for the coverage of the space mission were moved and allowed the music to be broadcast as the soundtrack for the live coverage.
David Gilmore, lead guitar player for Pink Floyd, says he hadn’t hear the results of that jam session/live broadcast until forty years later when the song Moonhead popped in a YouTube video. The video uses the song as a theme for a montage of clips from various moon NASA moon missions, most notably Apollo 17.
Although Moonhead was never realeased on any of the ban’s official recordings, it has shown up on various bootleg recordings over the years. Did Gilmore remember broadcasting the musical “free jam” and where he was when it happened?
It was fantastic to be thinking that we were in there making up a piece of music, while the astronauts were standing on the moon. It doesn’t seem conceivable that that would happen on the BBC nowadays,” Gilmour says in his Guardian piece. “We didn’t make any songs out of the jam session. We did, on occasions, do music live that would be a jam session of some sort, and I’ve heard documentaries where I recognize my music. It’s very odd to be watching a documentary and to hear something that you know is yourself, but you have no recognition of when you did it or how. I’ve never forgotten Moonhead, though. After all, it’s not hard to remember exactly where I was.