Classics Du Jour



More Pink Floyd Airship -The Historic Division Bell Press Conference

The press, radio, and TV media were invited to have High Tea at the “Pink Café” in the large park that’s situated in the front of the Rose Bowl.  The location was chosen because later that year the band would perform two nights at the Rose Bowl on their upcoming Division Bell tour.

But know one knew that yet.  In fact, all anyone knew was that supposedly, there was a Pink Floyd album in the making, and that was about it.  So all the press, radio and TV people were buzzing about because they wondered why they were being invited to this park, and what was going to take place once they got there.  Most knew about the large park in front of the Rose Bowl, but it’s just a huge area of grass with some scattered trees in between some foothills on either side.  The Rose Bowl nests in a valley between those hills.

They knew something was brewing with Pink Floyd, but not exactly what, and to their knowledge, there was certainly no restaurant or café in that park—Pink or otherwise!

Of course there wasn’t, we (Columbia Records) were going to build one!  Wow, I guess we did have some real dough to spend in those days—not only did we build a gigantic psychedelic airship (for $750,000.00), but we also built a home made café to serve High Tea for one afternoon!!!

Here’s the scene:  All the press, radio and TV people arrive at the identified spot in the park at around 1:00 PM.  They see an outdoor café with an entrance, above which has a pink sign that reads “The Pink Café.”  There are big round tables that seat about eight people apiece, replete with white tablecloths and place settings.  All the guests are invited to help themselves to the buffet of finger sandwiches, followed by scones dolloped in strawberries, whip cream, and jam, and all is being washed down with many cups of English tea.  So everyone, about 60 or 70people, are having a grand old time, seemingly in the middle of nowhere, wondering what the heck could possibly come next?

The Pink Floyd "Division Bell" Press Conference
The Pink Floyd “Division Bell” Press Conference

Airship appears, seemingly out of nowhere:  As I explained in a former post, one of the attributes of an airship, is that it can just hang, suspended in midair with the engines off (kind of like Superman). Well, we had our giant airship hidden in like that hanging on the other side of one of those foothills.

So as High Tea is ending, and everyone wonders what’s next, out of the blue they hear the very loud whistle and whining of two giant Porsche aircraft engines (one on each side of the airship’s gondola), which have just been fired up.  As they look to where the sound is coming from, they see this giant, psychedelic flying machine rising from behind one of the hills and now heading right towards them!  What a sight!

Now you have to remember, no one had ever seen anything like this before—it looked like something out of a Disney or Spielberg movie—except it was real!!  And the closer it came the larger it loomed, the more amazing it looked, and the louder it got!  Finally, this giant psychedelic flying machine, as big as a football field, was hovering just 20 or so feet above all of our heads.  The engines were at full ear splitting roar, kicking up dust, and everyone was looking up with their jaws dropped in amazement.  Some must have felt like at any moment they could be transported up into this spacecraft-looking thing and flown to another planet like in “Close Encounters Of The Third Kind.”

After a minute or two of people completely freaking out, the airship moved sideways (very surreal looking) to about 30 yards away and set down.  A ground crew of about 8 people magically appeared wearing black uniforms and tied it down to the ground using long ropes.

As people were still staring in amazement, the engines shut down, the door of the pink gondola opened, and out stepped a dozen waiters and waitresses all wearing black and white tuxedos and carrying large silver food trays with a domed covers.  They all walked in a straight line over to us and then into the entrance of The Pink Café.  Each placed one of the large domed trays in the center of the tables we were all standing around.  Everyone finally sat down, and in unison, all of the waiters and waitresses lifted the dome covers off the trays, like you would see in a fine restaurant.

But instead of any kind of fine entree, there stacked very neatly, were beautiful blue folders each containing the press release announcing the new Division Bell album and tour! It was so cool.  Every guest got one, and the manager of Pink Floyd, Steve O’Rourke and the national tour promoter Michael Cohl, walked to a podium, made the official announcement, and answered all questions—including, “What the hell is THAT giant airship ship thing?!”  “Where did it come from??!!”  And, the best, “When can we all have a ride in it?!!!!”

More, on rides in the airship and some fun things I got to do with it personally next time.

Until then, thanks for reading and all the best,


© Paul Rappaport 2014

Paul Rappaport

Paul Rappaport was Senior VP at Columbia Records where he enjoyed a 33 year career in radio promotion and marketing. He is recognized as being instrumental in the careers of Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, Pink Floyd, The Rolling Stones, Santana, Journey, Elvis Costello, Judas Priest, Alice in Chains, and many more. He is also noted as the Co-Creator...

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