Business as usual at The Anchor. Felix Atagong, that old drunk hippie, was sitting at the bar, ogling some of the mojito girls eagerly discussing Justin Bieber's posterior. At his fifth Guinness Felix usually starts to get all glazzy eyed and wants to start a Pink Floyd fight. Most of the time it suffices to name-drop Rob Chapman to make Atagong throw a tantrum, but there weren't enough spectators today to make this trick worthwhile.
"Alex", he said, "Did I already tell you that David Gilmour wore a Guinness t-shirt during the 1974 French tour, just to piss off their sponsor Gini?" I pretended not having heard this story a dozen times before.
"In 1972", he orated, "Pink Floyd signed a lucrative publicity contract with Gini, a French übersweet soft drink. The band went to the Moroccan desert where they had some shots taken by photographer William Sorano, a fact not a lot of people know of." Felix likes to brag a lot, especially when he gets a bit light in the head.
"Of course Pink Floyd wasn't a millionaire's super group yet when they agreed with the deal. They liked to describe themselves as an underground art band and only the French were daft enough to believe that. British have this national sport to fool the French and for three full decades those have thought that 'pink floyd' was English for 'flamant rose' or 'pink flamingo'. That rumour was started on the mainland by journalist Jean Marie Leduc after he returned from a trip to London in sixty-seven. Asking a freaked-out acid head what a pink floyd really meant he turned into the proverbial sitting duck and eagerly swallowed the bait."
"So whenever Pink Floyd wanted to get arty-farty they only had to hop into the nearest ferry to Calais where they were hauled in as national heroes. One of their sillier projects was to play behind a bunch of men in tights, jumping up and down in an uncoördinated way, and calling that a ballet. Of course there was a kind of 'intellectual snobbery' involved in this all, but even more the Pink Floyd's fine taste for champagne and oysters that was invariably hauled in by the bucket." Felix had certainly reached lift-off and would be raving and drooling now for at least the next half hour to come."
"Another project was the soundtrack for the art movie La Vallée, a typical French vehicle for long pseudo philosophical musings about the richness of primitive culture and the sudden urge of a French bourgeois woman to hug some trees and to hump the local Crocodile Dundee. Part of the movie is in the kind of English that would turn Inspector Clouseau green with envy. What does one expects from a bunch of hippies, making a tedious long journey to a mythical valley they call 'obscured by cloud' (not 'clouds')?"
"The hidden valley is supposed to be a paradise and the story sounds like a cheap rehash of the ridiculous Star Trek episode, The Way To Eden. Over the years journalists and biographers have rumoured that the movie is saved by showing a fair amount of frolicking in the nude, but it miserably fails in that department as well. Quite unusual for a French movie of the early seventies, I might add, as the cinematographic intellectual trend was to show the female form in all its variety. The only bush that can be seen is the New Guinean forest unfortunately."
"Obviously the Floyd couldn't resist this challenge and helped by the easy money soundtracks brought in they were wheeled into a château with a stock of red wine and boeuf bourguignon. Two weeks later they emerged with one of their finest albums ever." Atagong took another drink and belched loudly. This had only been the introduction, I feared, I was right.
"Rick Wright recalls in a 1974 Rock & Folk interview how their manager Steve O'Rourke met a bloke on a French beach, waving a fifty thousand British pounds check in front of him. O'Rourke frantically jumped up and down, like a dancer from a French avant-garde ballet dancing troupe, making hysterically pink flamingo quacking sounds. Little did he know this was going to be first time in Floydian history that the band didn't manage to trick the French, a tradition that started in 1965 when Syd Barrett and David Gilmour busked the French Riviera. Of course it is easy to say in retrospect O'Rourke was duly screwed 'up the khyber' by the Gini coöperation, but in 1972 it appeared not to be such a bad deal after all. Part of the deal was that Gini promised to sponsor a French tour, including radio and television promo spots that unfortunately have not survived into the 21st century."
"The main problem was that in 1973 Pink Floyd suddenly turned into millionaire superstars thanks to Dark Side Of The Moon and that 50,000 pounds was now something they spent on breakfast orange juice. But Gini, waving with the two years old contract, threatened with legal action and the Floyd reluctantly agreed to meet the conditions."
"In the summer of 1974 Floyd hit France and wherever they appeared a publicity caravan of 15 people would follow them. It had cute girls who gave Gini drinks, stickers and fluorescent t-shirts away, 4 'easy riders' on 750 cc super-choppers (painted by Jean-Paul Montagne) and a green 1956 Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith (numberplate: 567 AAF 75) with a loud stereo installation. Rumours go that at a certain point the atmosphere was so heated between the Pink Floyd management and Gini that a minimum distance between band and publicity people had to be agreed on. But according to Nick Mason, in his auto-biography Inside Out, it was only the band that got infuriated, the technical crew quite enjoyed the promo girls and they exchanged more than soft drinks alone."
"French journalists immediately accused Pink Floyd of a sell-out and the band rapidly declared that the money was going to charity, something in the line of a school for handicapped children. Rock & Folk squeezed out the names of the Ronald Laing Association and the French hôpital de Salpêtrière, but reality may have been a bit different. Nick Mason told Mojo's Mark Blake this summer that they probably just shelved the money, although David Gilmour and Roger Waters still keep up it was donated. Rest me to say that Waters was so angry at the situation that he wrote an unpublished song about the Gini incident, titled Bitter Love (aka 'How Do You Feel')." Felix Atagong paused a bit, to have a drink, so this was a moment for immediate action.
"Out!", I said, "The Anchor is closed."
"But", retaliated the Reverend, "this was just a mere introduction to start talking about the Wish You Were Here Immersion set that has just been issued and I would like to say something more about the 1967 Stockholm Gyllene Cirkeln show that has finally been weeded out to the public..."
"Out!", I said again, "There is no time for your drunken ramblings any more."
I pushed Felix Atagong out of the door and I heard him staggering back home, murmuring incomprehensible things. He'll be back tomorrow anyway.
(The above article is entirely based upon facts, some situations have
been enlarged for satirical purposes.)
The Anchor wishes to thank: Nipote and PF Chopper at Y.
Sources (other than the above internet links):
Blake, Mark: Pigs Might Fly, Aurum Press Limited, London, 2007, p. 179-183, 214.
Blake, Mark: Lost In Space, Mojo 215, October 2011, p. 85.
Feller, Benoît: Complet, Rock & Folk, Paris, July 1974, p. 44.
Leduc, Jean-Marie: Pink Floyd, Editions Albin Michel, Paris, 1982, p. 125.
Mason, Nick: Inside Out, Orion Books, London, 2011 reissue, p. 197-198.
(unknown): La "caravane" Pink Floyd-Gini, Hit Magazine, Paris, July 1974.
One of the promo Pink Floyd Gini choppers is still around today and has its own Facebook page: The Pink Floyd Chopper.