The Floyd needed help. They needed encouragement, equipment, rehearsal, roadies, work, recording contracts, direction and all the rest of it, and their new managers didn’t have the first idea about the roles and attitudes of the established
managers,but waded in at the deep end. Now, there’s an old adage which says, “Fools rush in, and get the best seats” – and that, by a strange quirk of good fortune, is exactly what happened. Over the next few months, the Floyd seemed to waltz into the charts, onto the television and into clubs and theatres without any problems at all.
The Floyd had, by this time, dropped most of their R&B repertoire in
favourof the more electronic/freaky stuff and I, in my blissful ignorance, had assumed that this was a result of acid experimentation and the like, but this was not so. It was done at Jenner’s insistence; he directed them off the “Louie Louie” trip towards the ‘Saucerful of Secrets’ style, and it turned out to be the perfect managerial move – although it was done largely out of ignorance… Jenner mere thought the electronic stuff sounded better than the American imitations which he’d never really been keen on. Also, thinking that there was nothing difficult in composing new numbers, he impressed on them that they should write more original material of a ‘weird’ nature, but at the same time bearing the requirements of the singles market in mind. So, their style evolved to the satisfaction of their managers, who thought it was good but had no idea how radically different it was from anything else that was happening in pop music.
By the beginning of 1967, UFO was already bulging to the walls with freaks – and The Pink Floyd, their music becoming increasingly strange by pop music standards,
werethe big musical draw. Jenner: ‘At the first two or three UFOs, the Floyd were on sixty per cent of the gross to provide music and lights, and my first managerial blunder was allowing that to be altered so that we got straight bread instead of a percentage, because the place instantly became very fashionable – I’ve never seen anything like it, before or since. And the band had become even more fashionable; without any records or any exposure outside of a couple of places in London, we got a centre-pagespread in Melody Maker.’
If you know anything about the workings of the pop music industry, you’ll know that any manager or publicist would sell his boyfriend to get a
centrespread in MM, but Jenner wasn’t at all surprised… He assumed that this was the normal routine thing to happen to any band. But the Floyd were becoming red hot; the word was spreading like a forest fire – all the record companies were interested and suited executives were lured into the addict-infested filth of UFO to see the band in action. Eventuallythey signed with EMI, who offered them the best deal, including an advance of £5,000, which was just unbelievably astronomical in those days; more like a telephone number than a sum of money – and, surprisingly, EMI really did get behind them and did an incomparable promotion job.
~~ Peter Frame, Zigzag