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Fame: Nick Mason

You once said: “I’m not famous, but I’m part of a famous enterprise.” Do you think that’s still true?

Oh yes. For some peculiar reason, though, I feel as if I’ve become part of the National Trust. People now want to do tours around the building that is Nick Mason.

Who was the first famous pop star you met?

When we were studying at Regent Street Polytechnic [with future Pink Floyd members Roger Waters and Rick Wright] we used to go and see the Spencer Davis Group, and I met their lead singer, Steve Winwood.

How much did Pink Floyd want to be famous? Were you attracted to the idea of being surrounded by screaming girls, or was it only about the music?

It was never only about the music. We all wanted to be pop stars. Or we thought we did. When we kicked off we were an R&B band, and it was about impressing a mostly male audience. The press likes to believe that rock’n’roll is all screaming girls, but it never was. It was all blokes walking around with long hair, raincoats and loon pants.

How did you feel the day after you first appeared on Top Of The Pops, in the summer of 1967?

I probably woke up the day after thinking everything was going to be different. You’d do it, go home and nothing happened. The streets were not suddenly lined with cheering people. I still keep hoping to wake up and find I’m a famous pop star. Sadly, it never happens.

Do you remember the first time you signed an autograph?

It was pretty early on, and it was probably for someone who had no idea who we were. We were just the group fourth-on-the-bill to Amen Corner or someone like that.

Did Syd Barrett’s rejection of fame change the rest of Pink Floyd’s attitude?

It polarised us. We wanted to be pop stars. He didn’t. We couldn’t understand why we were all heading this way and he wasn’t.

Was there a point in Pink Floyd’s career after which you started to get recognised more?

No. We did have pictures of ourselves on some of the LP covers, so there were always people that recognised us. You tend to get recognised more when you’re with one of the others rather than on your own.

If The Dark Side Of The Moon is the most famous Pink Floyd album, which is the Floyd album you wish was better known?

The second album, A Saucerful Of Secrets. There were lots of ideas on that one that helped us to work out where we were going.

Have you ever wished you were more famous for your drumming?

No. I’m not the sort of person who thinks they should be voted for in a poll of great players. I’m at ease now with the fact that I have a feel and style that works for us. But I’ve never given a master class and don’t intend to start now. I do get asked to, and I usually give a nervous laugh and say I’ve got a bad wrist.

Has being in Pink Floyd helped your parallel career in motor racing?

Yes. People in that sport know who I am now, and I’m not embarrased to use the connection for getting sponsorship or for a good cause. For Children In Need I’m happy to be Nick Mason from Pink Floyd or Nick Mason with the funny old cars. The car thing has become part of my persona now.

When was the last time someone asked you for your autograph?

Yesterday at Goodwood. I don’t refuse autographs. David [Gilmour] does sometimes. I certainly baulk at signing too many things, and I tend to use a careless signature on occasion.

Who’s the most famous member of Pink Floyd?

[Long pause and laughter]. The one that’s no longer in it. I think it depends what you mean by fame. David is famous for his guitar playing and is definitely rated as one of the top guitar players. Roger is rated as a great writer, and Rick was definitely the unsung hero, sadly appreciated a lot more now that he’s no longer with us. I think I’m definitely the least famous member of Pink Floyd. But certainly the most modest.

Mark Blake
Mark Blake

Mark Blake is a music journalist and author. His work has appeared in The Times and The Daily Telegraph, and the magazines Q, Mojo, Classic Rock, Music Week and Prog. He us the author of Pigs Might Fly: The Inside Story of Pink Floyd, Is This the Real Life: The Untold Story of Queen, Magnifico! The A–Z Of Queen, Peter Grant, The Story Of Rock's Greatest Manager and Pretend You're in a War: The Who & The Sixties.