Why Pink Floyd’s 1971 Show In London Killed Hundreds Of Fish

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Pink Floyd’s Unbelievable Fish Tale

When you think of prog rock giants Pink Floyd, you probably picture psychedelic light shows, deep philosophical lyrics, and music that constantly pushes the boundaries. Their history is a rich tapestry woven with strange and unusual events.

We’ve all heard the rumors about “Dark Side of the Moon” syncing perfectly with “The Wizard of Oz,” and who can forget their space-themed albums or the haunting live performance in the ruins of Pompeii? But even for Pink Floyd, there are stories that stretch the limits of belief.

One such tale involves a 1971 concert in London’s Crystal Palace. The concert itself was legendary, but the aftermath was even more memorable. Hundreds of fish met an untimely demise, and the band found themselves with a rather fishy bill.

A Trip Through Time at Crystal Palace

The setting for this story is the mystical Crystal Palace Gardens. This iconic venue was a leftover wonder from a past World’s Fair, featuring colossal Egyptian sphinxes, towering water structures, and fountains erupting with sky-high jets. This fantastical setting, once home to the magnificent Crystal Palace structure, became a cultural hotspot after the palace itself was gone.

The Crystal Palace Garden Parties were a series of open-air concerts held from 1971 to 1980, echoing the spirit of Woodstock. These events featured legendary acts like The Beach Boys, The Faces, Elton John, and of course, Pink Floyd.

Fast forward to May 15th, 1971. Pink Floyd was the main attraction, headlining a concert with Mountain, The Faces, and Quiver as the supporting acts. This night would go down in rock history not just for the music, but for an unexpected twist.

The Fishy Aftermath

The stage was set for Pink Floyd to perform at the Crystal Palace Garden Party. The afternoon stretched on, and as the band prepared to play, the skies opened up. Torrential rain poured down, but Pink Floyd, ever the showmen, continued. The music roared to life, and the dedicated audience braved the downpour, holding up their plastic shields to witness the spectacle.

Legend has it that a single, earth-shattering note killed all the fish in the nearby pond. But did this really happen? And how could it?

The truth, like many good rock and roll stories, is probably a mix of reality and embellishment. Over time, memories might have become hazy, and folklore taken root. While the dramatic single note might be exaggerated, a combination of factors likely led to the fish disaster.

The Inflatable Octopus

Things took a turn for the worse with the arrival of Pink Floyd’s showpiece – a giant inflatable octopus. It was supposed to rise spectacularly from the pond, filled with underwater smoke flares. However, concertgoers had waded into the pond, causing tears in the inflatable. The smoke intended to fill the octopus escaped into the water, creating a murky haze instead of a magnificent display.

To make matters worse, the band had loaded the pond with dry ice, orange smoke bombs, and fireworks to create a psychedelic experience. This mixture likely poisoned and suffocated the fish, turning a planned highlight into an environmental disaster.

The Sonic Tsunami

Even if the pond wasn’t already a toxic soup, the final blow might have come from Pink Floyd’s innovative quadraphonic sound system. This cutting-edge technology created a wall of surround sound that enveloped the entire venue. Imagine sound waves pulsating through the earth itself, a sensory experience unlike any other. The sheer power of the sound system likely produced vibrations around 95 decibels near the stage. For the fish already struggling in the smoke-filled water, this sonic tsunami could have been the final straw.

The Aftermath

The city government was outraged by the ecological damage and held Pink Floyd accountable. The band received a hefty bill demanding compensation for the thousands of dead fish and the restoration of the pond’s marine life. It was a truly fishy situation for the legendary rockers.

A Killer Shrimp

The Crystal Palace fish kill has become a legendary footnote in Pink Floyd’s history. So ingrained is this story that when researchers named a shrimp species “Synalpheus pinkfloydi,” many fans thought it was a reference to the band’s aquatic mishap.

However, the truth behind the shrimp’s name is just as fascinating. This particular shrimp has a giant, neon-pink claw capable of producing a 210-decibel sound wave. This sonic blast can stun or even kill small fish with a single snap.

One thing’s for sure: between the legendary fish kill and the aptly named shrimp, Pink Floyd has secured a unique place in both rock history and the natural world. It’s a truly bizarre and undeniably entertaining fish tale.

The crowd at the Crystal Palace Bowl during the first Garden Party, 1971


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