In January 1967, prior to recording The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, the band had produced at Sound Techniques Studio in London a s In January 1967, prior to recording The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, the band had produced at Sound Techniques Studio in London a s In January 1967, prior to recording The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, the band had produced at Sound Techniques Studio in London a single entitled Arnold Layne. The single was later released in March of that year and reached #20 in the British charts. Also in January the band had recorded a 16-minute version of Interstellar Overdrive and an improvised jam called Nick's Boogie, for Peter Whitehead's documentary film Tonite Let's All Make Love in London. (The latter track wasn't released until 1991 on the CD reissue of the film's soundtrack). The band's live show consisted mainly of instrumental numbers and blues covers, however they had started to introduce songs which were written primarily by lead guitarist and lead vocalist Syd Barrett. Many of these songs written by Barrett appeared at the Games For May concert several months before the release of the album.
Recording of the album began on the 21 February 1967 in studio three of Abbey Road Studios at the same time The Beatles were recording Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and The Pretty Things were recording S.F. Sorrow. The album was produced by Norman Smith, an EMI staff member who had previously engineered all of The Beatles recordings up to 1965's Rubber Soul. Smith would go on to produce Pink Floyd's follow up album, A Saucerful of Secrets. "Interstellar Overdrive" and "Matilda Mother" were two of the first tracks recorded, as the latter was viewed as a potential single. "Interstellar Overdrive"s kinetic and spacey production, came from the insistence of the normally conservative Norman Smith, whose work on the record is often criticised because it is seen that he tried to make the album more pop orientated. An early, unoverdubbed, shortened mix of the album's "Interstellar Overdrive" was used for a French EP released that July. In April, the band recorded both "Percy the Rat Catcher" (this would later be called "Lucifer Sam"), and a currently unreleased track called "She Was a Millionaire". At some point during the album's creation, Nick Mason recalled that they were "ushered" into studio 2 where The Beatles were recording "Lovely Rita". Several conflicting views surround how efficiently the recording of the album actually went. In his book Inside Out: A Personal History of Pink Floyd, Nick Mason recalled that the sessions went smoothly and that the whole process was extremely efficient. Norman Smith however, condemned both the album's recording and the band members' musical abilities. Smith later stated that the sessions were "sheer hell". However, both "The Gnome" and "The Scarecrow" were recorded in one take. Indeed a large proportion of the album is credited solely to Barrett, with tracks such as "Bike" having been written in late 1966 before the album was even started. "Bike" was originally entitled "The Bike Song", and it was recorded on 21 May 1967. The last recording session took place on 5 July 1967, with the track "Pow R. Toc H." being one of last songs added to the album.
Vic Singh photographed and designed the album cover, unlike subsequent Pink Floyd albums. The album remains one of the few to actually feature the band members on the front cover. The album's title comes from the title of Chapter Seven, "THE PIPER AT THE GATES OF DAWN," of Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows, where Rat and Mole, while searching for Portly, the lost son of Otter, are drawn to a place where the 'Piper' is playing on his reed flute.
"`This is the place of my song-dream, the place the music played to me,' whispered the Rat, as if in a trance. `Here, in this holy place, here if anywhere, surely we shall find Him!'"
(The 'Piper' referred to is the Greek god Pan.)
Portly was found near Pan.
Lyrics: Doctor doctor!
Im in bed
Gold is lead
Choke on bread
Gold is lead
Pain is red
Music seems to help the pain
Seems to cultivate the brain.
Doctor kindly tell your wife that
Im alive - flowers thrive - realize - realize