The headmaster’s cane whose disciplinary swish helped to inspire rock music’s greatest opera is to be among the highlights of an exhibition devoted to the godfathers of psychedelia.
The cane and punishment book detailing the beatings administered to Roger Waters and Syd Barrett of Pink Floyd will be shown alongside other paraphernalia from the band’s astonishing six decades of success.
The Victoria and Albert Museum has gathered more than 300 objects — many that band members have either never seen or cannot remember — for its blockbuster summer exhibition.
They include the cane, which was used by Arthur Eagling, the headmaster of Cambridgeshire School for Boys, which helped to inspire Waters to write The Wall, the groundbreaking conceptual album. Waters said yesterday that he was “inordinately proud” that the cane and punishment book had been discovered.
“It is so archaic now, the idea of beating people with sticks,” he said. “It is now confined to foreign policy of major western powers.”
In a sign of friction, Waters dismissed a reunion saying that the idea was “so dull now”. The band, which emerged in the mid-1960s with Barrett as its creative influence, survived his LSD-induced breakdown to become one of the biggest selling in history. The surviving members — Waters, David Gilmour and Nick Mason — are multimillionaires while their 1970s album Dark Side of the Moon still sells 10,000 copies a week.
However, after legal disputes, walkouts and a brief reunion for Bob Geldof’s Live8 extravaganza in 2005, Mason is the only member who would sign up for what would be one of the biggest money-spinning reunions in history.
Visitors to the exhibition, which opens in May, will encounter a Bedford van that was used by the band in the 1960s, when they were at the hub of London’s underground scene.
Amid light projections and soundtracks, visitors will also see the technological innovations deployed by the band on seminal albums, including Wish You Were Here and Animals, along with letters and artworks.
A video of the band with Barrett singing Jugband Blues, a song now seen as detailing his mental collapse and which captures his hollow-eyed state of disrepair, is also on show.