To watch previously unseen video of Pink Floyd playing “Astronomy Domine” in 1970, click here.

In the last week of April 1973, Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon reached No. 1 on the American charts. In the last week of April 1970, though, they had yet to crack the U.S. Top 50 after three years of recording and performing. In the midst of their third stateside tour, they weren’t selling out stadiums.

It was during this tour, on April 30, that Pink Floyd played an hour-long set in an empty Fillmore Auditorium in San Francisco, filmed for broadcast by small local television station called KQED.

“At that point, they were really anxious to have whatever publicity they could,” remembers the program’s co-producer at KQED, Jim Farber. “We did not have much of a budget. Pink Floyd did the performance and offered the rights for a certain number of airings for practically nothing. My memory is we paid them $200.”

Roger Waters making sound effects during "Astronomy Domine"
Roger Waters making sound effects during “Astronomy Domine” (KQED)

Widely bootlegged in the decades since, the performance is now officially available on DVD from the band. Recently, KQED unearthed raw footage of Pink Floyd’s performance, which included a half hour of music not included in the original program. After months of negotiations, KQED has been granted the right to exclusively premiere film of one of those songs, “Astronomy Domine.” [Video is at the end of this post.]

You might be wondering: in 1970, KQED was more known for Sesame Street than psychedelic rock. So how in the world did the Pink Floyd program happen in the first place?

Connecting with Pink Floyd

Simulcast on KQED radio, the special was set up as a direct result of Farber’s enthusiasm for the group. He first saw Pink Floyd in a basement club in London in 1967, when Syd Barrett (soon to be replaced by David Gilmour) was still the band’s lead guitarist and principal singer-songwriter.

“When I went to work at KQED June of 1969, I proposed the idea that we do a program with them,” he explains. “John Coney, the other producer [who also directed the special], really liked their music. So we decided we might as well make a proposal to them.”

The KQED production team brought “a huge mobile truck the size of a boxcar that held the video recording equipment” outside the original Fillmore Auditorium so the performance could be “recorded as well as you could outside the studio at that time. There’s a certain amount of vibration that was caused just from the sound of the amps. Because the technology just wasn’t that advanced yet. Portable video, the way we think of it, didn’t even exist.”

Pink Floyd's Richard Wright singing during 1970 performance
Pink Floyd’s Richard Wright singing during 1970 performance (KQED)

The original Fillmore wasn’t hosting rock concerts in 1970 — Bill Graham had transferred his operations to the Fillmore West on Market and Van Ness — but it was made available to the band and KQED for this special TV performance. Pink Floyd played a concert in front of paying customers at the Fillmore West the following night, reprising all of the half dozen songs they’d performed for KQED’s cameras, as well as other early favorites like “Astronomy Domine” and “A Saucerful of Secrets.”

Unexpectedly, the program opens with aerial shots of desolate fields and marshes in the San Joaquin Valley — indeed, seven minutes of “Atom Heart Mother” pass before any of the musicians are seen on screen. During “Grantchester Meadows,” the performance is interspersed with what Farber calls “nature footage.” The cinematography is marked by close-ups of the casually dressed musicians and slow pans around the band’s perimeter. Periodic smoke effects and solarization add to the late-psychedelic-period mood.

“John Coney was doing some very experimental video work at KQED, and KQED at that time was really wide open in terms of they would let you do,” enthuses Farber. “So John mapped out a visual scheme for the production. There’s no narration, there’s not the usual PBS thing of explaining everything you’re going to see. It was very abstract.

“We had one go at getting the Pink Floyd performance, and one day to essentially do all of the effects and lay in everything in the studio. There was no such thing as stereo TV. People could put on the FM channel and then watch it on the TV, and that was how we approximated getting the best audio we could out of it.”

Pink Floyd playing for KQED in 1970. L-R: David Gilmour, Nick Mason and Roger Waters
Pink Floyd playing for KQED in 1970. L-R: David Gilmour, Nick Mason and Roger Waters (KQED )

Reception

It wasn’t unusual for KQED to broadcast rock concerts in psychedelia’s heyday, especially by local icons. Big Brother & the Holding Company, Jefferson Airplane, and Quicksilver Messenger Service all got airtime. In the more experimental realm, a long raga by minimalist pioneer Terry Riley sparked, reveals an amused Farber, “more nasty phone calls than anything we ever did at the station.” But Pink Floyd, for as strong an underground following as they building in the United States, were so eager for an American audience that they played a free concert at UCLA a week later. (Farber traveled to Los Angeles with the band in the hopes of getting some additional footage, but none was used. The free concert, he explains, “was really a disaster.”)

Not broadcast until Jan. 26, 1971, the special “got an incredibly positive response when we aired it in San Francisco,” says Farber. “After that, it had two national broadcasts on PBS.”

Pink Floyd’s concert for KQED hasn’t been broadcast on television for many years, and wasn’t made commercially available until its appearance on a massive 27-disc Pink Floyd CD/DVD box set in 2016, The Early Years 1965-1972. But Farber recently oversaw a meticulous transfer from the two-inch masters to DVD — “we cleaned them up as much as we could and the audio is superb.”

David Gilmour waiting to play
David Gilmour waiting to play (KQED)

“I’m amazed we got it done,” reflects Farber, now a Los Angeles-based writer. “We did it on such a shoestring, and it all came together at the right moment. You could take out certain little glitches, but I kind of like it for its roughness. ‘Cause it was a reflection of who we were at that time.

“The ‘60s were still very alive in San Francisco in 1970, and the thing that I loved about KQED is that you had a public television station, but the people on the staff were exceedingly hip. The amount of energy that was being generated at KQED at that time was remarkable.”

Watch Pink Floyd play “Astronomy Domine” in 1970.

EXCLUSIVE: Unseen Footage of Pink Floyd Playing in 1970 16 November,2017Richie Unterberger

  • Ruben

    This is interesting. Actually delightful to see. Thanks for this gem! I’d like to know if there’s information on which songs the Floyd played but were not broadcast? Which were they besides “Astronomy”? Also, I don’t understand if the restored footage given to the Getty was the original 90-minute footage without the added visual effects, or if it was the 60-minute edition we all know. Thank you!

  • Uncle-Archie

    Thanks for posting.

    47 and I was lucky enough to see them twice,,(Thanks older brother) my first album I ever owned was Dark side when I was 8,, personal opinion but I really liked Animals and don’t understand why some Floyd fans don’t.

    • Larry Molmud

      Gilmour’s finest work (IMO) is on “Animals,” esp. “Pigs.” Give a listen to Les Claypool’s Live Frogs 2-CD set sometime: they launched into Animals start to finish second set. Superb job.

    • Tricia Adam

      You are not alone. If there is one album I play over and over again, it’s “Animals” it is absolutely Brilliant!

  • Scott D. Mc Donough

    From “An hour with Pink Floyd” I sure wish KQED would show it again. Once in 70 and again in 84 I believe. I have it on disc (poor recording) and have contacted them to show it again. One says no, another yes, but nothing yet.

  • guest

    Thanks very much for this treasured footage! Will the film of “A Saucerful of Secrets” ever be made available?

  • David Corpus

    Before they were famous? They had 5 albums out and were on their third world tour when this was shot.

  • Clinton Vadnais

    This is great footage. The source needs to be deinterlaced though. 🙁

  • A classic made in San Francisco. Proudly made at KQED. We want this programme available on DVD or Blu-Ray from KQED Home Video. We want this as a support to KQED. Remastered from the original tapes, and digitized with stereo sound. This classic is the best from KQED. Thank you!!!

    • bethy0543

      This is just freakin’ awesome! KQED’s filming is just so perfect (as always) and the sound is fabulous!
      Please make this available as Vinko Milic states above. It would be a dream to be able to see and hear these videos.

  • jbdr

    Excellent 1970 audio and video quality – the video quality in particular is superior to any of Pink Floyd’s TV appearances of that time that I had previously seen. (The oddest one being a French show with the host/announcer on a riser among them – first he announces them, and then he’s still on stage with them, watching them as they – David Gilmour has just joined the band – play Astronomy Domine. Quite charming.)

  • Doug Bond

    You didn’t mention that Floyd played a very modest gig at Pepperland up in Marin about 6 months earlier in ’69. There were maybe three or four hundred at the show I attended. The room was set up with a 360 degree PA, with column speakers about every 25′ and huge Glyph horns in the four corners. Wright had a joystick to control the keyboard’s movement in the PA. Way ahead of their time.

    • Chris Serres

      Pink Floyd
      Pepperland Auditorium, San Rafael, CA, USA
      October 17th 1970

      Disc 1 (65:30m)
      1. Astronomy Domine (3 attempts)
      2. Fat Old Sun
      3. Cymbaline
      4. Atom Heart Mother

      Disc 2 (59:53m)
      1. The Embryo
      2. Green Is The Colour
      3. Careful With That Axe, Eugene
      4. Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun
      5. A Saucerful of Secrets

      lineage: M[CASS] > DAT[3 or 4] > SHN
      sound: EX/EX+

      “Pepperland Master”

  • dmcgee984

    This is a great piece of history. Very few times to you ever get to see a group like PF in a rehearsal mode, thank you. Agree with Uncle Archie, loves Animals as well, and I was lucky enough to see that tour in Cleveland, best concert ever!!! then saw the Division Bell tour.

    Dave

  • Michele Medina

    All I can say is AWESOME. Thanks for sharing this gem!

  • Greg Feneis

    Wow, that looks like an actual video recording, not a film to video. Not cheap in 1970. BT Dubs, which one’s Pink?

  • Cymbaline

    This is awesome!

    I emailed KQED many years ago about this show and asked if it was ever going to be re-released, and was told at the time that unfortunately the original tapes no longer existed or were lost. Great to know that they were discovered! (Or whoever I talked to was wrong.)

  • FriscoJoe

    Awesome! Live in Pompei one of my favorites

  • Greg

    So now we have “Astronomy Domine” but that’s still 22 minutes that are unaccounted for. Somebody didn’t think to ask Farber what the rest of the set-list was for this show? Was “A Saucerful of Secrets” included? Or was it “Embryo” and “Fat Old Sun”? Also, was the FM simulcast originally broadcast in stereo or was this always in mono? We need more information.

    Bill Graham recorded Pink Floyd’s gig at the Fillmore West the following night and I’m assuming he taped this show as well, possibly to multi-track. If so this historic video could have a superior stereo and surround mix to accompany the video for a future release. If it exists it needs to be tracked down.

    This is probably the closest we’ll ever get to having to having Pink Floyd’s 1970 set-list on video, almost in it’s entirety, so this is a very big deal. You guys at KQED have been holding out long enough. I want ALL of it, and a proper transfer on Blu Ray ASAP. We’ve been dealing with crappy bootlegs for decades now. Just get it done and the fans will respond.

  • Shadar

    Outstanding! Wonderful find! Given I was one of the comparative handful of Floyd fans in the US in 1970, this video thrills me to no end. We were all so young and perfect back then. Sigh.

    Saw them play in the London in 1969, and everybody knew them there, but back home, not so much.

    I still think Saucer is the most “Pink Floydish” album ever made, and it remains my absolute favorite. I love everything they’d done, but Saucer always takes me for a fantastical space-rock tour of the galaxy, stoned or straight, it makes no difference, or even where I am. Nothing says Floyd to me more than Set the Controls and Saucerful.

    If you ever release this performance on Bluray or DVD, I’m in.

    BTW… KQED got an outstanding bargain by only having to pay $200 for the private concert, no audience. Nice to “discover” an act before they were famous, at least in the US. American record companies wanted nothing to do with them in the late 60’s/early 1970. Idiots.

    Congrats to KQED. Independent radio at its best.

  • d.a.

    psychedelic.

  • Drew MacKenzie

    Gilmour looks criminal.

  • hero

    These things romanticize drugs and taunt those affected by the drug culture, if that doesn’t make you’re stomach turn… they get paid for this. I’m limited to english to describe how wrong this is… empty and vulgar are only the tip of the iceberg. These are not human. Do not support these so called artists. They do not need your money, what they earned and deserve is your hate. Teach your children to throw rocks and call them names. Scum… Of… The… Earth. You know it.

    • hero

      give them your unfiltered hate.

  • Andy

    This music changed my life.

  • Annonymous

    Our society has enough drug problems without Pink Floyd.

    Drugs have been part of our culture since the middle of the last century. Popularized in the 1960s by music and mass media, they invade all aspects of society.

    An estimated 208 million people internationally consume illegal drugs. In the United States, results from the 2007 National Survey on Drug Use and Health showed that 19.9 million Americans (or 8% of the population aged 12 or older) used illegal drugs in the month prior to the survey.

    You probably know someone who has been affected by drugs, directly or indirectly.

    The most commonly used—and abused—drug in the US is alcohol. Alcohol-related motor accidents are the second leading cause of teen death in the United States.

    The most commonly used illegal drug is marijuana. According to the United Nations 2008 World Drug Report, about 3.9% of the world’s population between the ages of 15 and 64 abuse marijuana.

    Young people today are exposed earlier than ever to drugs. Based on a survey by the Centers for Disease Control in 2007, 45% of high school students nationwide drank alcohol and 19.7% smoked pot during a one-month period.

    In Europe, recent studies among 15- and 16-year-olds suggest that use of marijuana varies from under 10% to over 40%, with the highest rates reported by teens in the Czech Republic (44%), followed by Ireland (39%), the UK (38%) and France (38%). In Spain and the United Kingdom, cocaine use among 15- to 16-year-olds is 4% to 6%. Cocaine use among young people has risen in Denmark, Italy, Spain, UK, Norway and France.

    SOURCE: http://www.drugfreeworld.org/drugfacts/the-truth-about-drugs.html

    • Annonymous

      It operates based on its wallet. Gross.

  • Annonymous

    Musically, I like Rick’s rotary organ bits in the full broadcast. The 70’s Coca Cola soda can, I find repulsive. They really need to lose the drug image, their ‘music’ IS BETTER than that!

Author

Richie Unterberger

Richie Unterberger has written a dozen rock history books, including volumes on the Velvet Underground, the Who, and the Beatles. He teaches community education rock history courses at the College of Marin and the Fromm Institute in San Francisco. Read more of his work at www.richieunterberger.com/wordpress.

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