This weekend, Pink Floyd‘s Dark Side Of The Moon celebrates its 40th birthday. One of the most enduring pieces of music of the rock and roll era, it has sold over 15 million copies in the U.S., it routinely lands towards the top of “greatest album of all time” lists, it launched Pink Floyd from a cult act to stadium headlining status, and stayed on the Billboard Top 200 album charts for over 700 weeks.
There are many factors that have contributed to the album’s staying power – not least of which is the fact that it is a once-in-a-lifetime record, made up of singles that flow together as a cohesive whole. But classic rock radio surely deserves at least some of the credit for keeping the album on the airwaves for decades: “Money” is one of the genre’s most solid songs, but really, over the years, you might hear any song on the album on the FM dial.
CBS Radio Networks spoke to some of our DJs who have been playing the album all these years, and we asked for their thoughts and memories of one of the cornerstones of the format. Here’s what they told us:
“Dark Side Of The Moon is arguably one of the finest albums of all time, even outside of the realm of rock music. A lot of this music had been played in concert in 1972, so by the time they got into the studio at Abbey Road, they really knew where they were going with (the music).
“I had the opportunity to interview Roger Waters at Abbey Road Studios in 1988, and before I did the interview, they gave me the tour, and they showed me the little studio where Pink Floyd recorded Dark Side Of The Moon. Studio 3: low ceiling, pretty small, sort of claustrophobic. In a way, it kind of feeds the atmosphere of Dark Side.” — Carter Alan (Watch a new episode of Carter’s video series, Carter’s Catalog, where he discussed Dark Side Of The Moon)
“Considering the year it was recorded, the production of the album is amazing. To this day, if you listen carefully, you can hear things you never heard before. One of my favorite songs is ‘The Great Gig In The Sky.’ They brought in a singer named Clare Torry and told her not to use words, but to sing what she was feeling. She was terrified, but gave one of the most memorable vocal performances in rock.” – Chuck Nowlin
“No Classic Rock fan can argue with the song craftsmanship, production and footnote in music history that Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon gave us.” — Kenny Young
“Dark Side Of The Moon is the first album I bought that I had to play in its entirety every time I laid the needle on the record. The song ‘Money’ was edited heavily for Top 40 radio and we all played the heck out of it in heavy rotation when it was new. Years later, someone told me you can put the record on while watching The Wizard Of Oz with the TV sound turned down, and it synchronizes with the movie. I tried it…sure enough it worked! Many scenes fit perfectly. It is still one of my favorite albums, and has iconic cover art, too.” — Jim Zippo, KLUV Dallas
“One of my favorite albums is Dark Side Of The Moon… I bought the LP when it was released and wore the record out. By the time I was finished with it, there were no grooves left on the record! In early 1983 I bought my first CD Player for about $900 to get into this new technology. The very first CD I bought to replace my poor old worn out record was Dark Side of the Moon which cost about 40 dollars back then!” – Ron Parker WCBS-FM, New York
“I was Music Director working at KOL-AM in Seattle. I was able to hear Dark Side Of The Moon about one week before its release. I was floored immediately. Much like the first time you heard The Beatles, Dark Side was another ‘Big Bang of Rock and Roll.’ When it was released, we played the entire album at midnight, an innovative move for a AM Radio station at the time. I had [Pink Floyd drummer] Nick Mason on the show recently here at KZOK. He talked about how that project was recorded in sections. They had the gifted young Alan Parsons producing the record, which helped. The first time they sat down as a group and listened to it…no one said a word. They all looked at each other and smiled, knowing they had created a work of music that was innovative and special. Dark Side of The Moon is arguably the best album ever recorded.” — Gary Crow Music Director, DJ, KZOK Seattle
“That album came out at the perfect time for me, I was in junior high and spent countless hours studying and hanging out listening to it over and over again. Plus, like everybody else, I attempted to sync it up to The Wizard of Oz. Amazing to me how an album that only spent one week at #1 on the Billboard Top 200 Albums chart would spend 741 weeks in a row on that same chart. It’s definitely in my top ten list of all time albums. I still have my original vinyl and an import I bought for $83 back in 1981 that had the original quadraphonic recording.” — Domino, SUNNY-FM, Florida