Born in Edgbaston, Birmingham, England, on January 27, 1944, Nick Mason is the drummer for Pink Floyd and the only member to be with the band throughout its entire history. He's not a major songwriter, only writing Speak To Me, and The Grand Vizier's Garden Party. He wrote a book entitled Inside Out: A Personal History of Pink Floyd in 2002.
Mason is the only Pink Floyd member to be featured on every one of their albums, and the only constant member of the band since its formation in 1965. It is estimated that as of 2010, the group have sold over 250 million records worldwide, including 75 million units sold in the United States. Despite solely writing only a few Pink Floyd songs, Mason has co-written some of Pink Floyd's most popular compositions such as "Echoes" and "Time".
He competes in motor racing events, such as the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
On 26 November 2012, Mason received an Honorary Doctor of Letters from the University of Westminster at the presentation ceremony of the School of Architecture and Built Environment (he had studied architecture at the University's predecessor, Regent Street Polytechnic, 1962–1967).
Early LifeThe son of documentary film maker Bill Mason, he was born in Birmingham but brought up in Hampstead, London (many online biographies mistakenly cite the street address Downshire Hill – sometimes as "the Downshire Hills" – as a district of Birmingham), attending The Hall School, Hampstead, and afterwards studying at Frensham Heights School, near Farnham, Surrey. He later studied at the Regent Street Polytechnic (now the University of Westminster), where he teamed up with Roger Waters, Bob Klose and Rick Wright in 1964 to form Pink Floyd's predecessor, Sigma 6.
Life in Pink FloydMason has been the drummer on every Pink Floyd album (but not on every song; some feature session drummers or drum machines, or have no drumming).
The only Pink Floyd songs whose composition is credited solely to Mason are "The Grand Vizier's Garden Party Parts 1–3" (from Ummagumma) and "Speak to Me" (from Dark Side of the Moon). The one-off song by the band titled "Nick's Boogie" was named after him.
The only times Mason's voice has been included on Pink Floyd's albums are "Corporal Clegg", the single spoken line in "One of These Days" and spoken parts of "Signs of Life" and "Learning to Fly" (the latter taken from an actual recording of Mason's first solo flight) from A Momentary Lapse of Reason. He does, however, sing lead vocals on two unreleased but heavily bootlegged tracks, "Scream Thy Last Scream" (1967), penned by original leader Syd Barrett and "The Merry Xmas Song" (1975–76). In live performances of the song "Sheep", he did the spoken section. Mason also appears to sing lead vocals on the bridge to Waters' first composition "Take Up Thy Stethoscope and Walk".
Despite legal conflicts over ownership of the name 'Pink Floyd', which began when Waters left the group in 1986 and lasted roughly seven years, Waters and Nick Mason are now on good terms. Mason joined Waters on the last two nights of his 2002 world tour to play drums on the Pink Floyd song "Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun", and he also played drums on some concerts of Waters' European tour in 2006, and during performances in Los Angeles and New York City in the United States. On 12 May 2007, Mason joined Waters again on stage at Earls Court to play The Dark Side of the Moon. Again, on 12 May 2011, Mason was featured, along with David Gilmour, on the encore "Outside the Wall" at a concert by Waters, who was performing The Wall in its entirety. Gilmour also performed on "Comfortably Numb" that night.
In July 2005, Mason, Gilmour, Wright, and Waters played together on stage for the first time in 24 years. A four-song set was played at the Live 8 concert in London. Mason also joined Gilmour and Wright for the encore during Gilmour's show at the Royal Albert Hall, London, on 31 May 2006, reuniting the post-Waters Pink Floyd. Mason has also claimed to be the link between Gilmour and Waters, and believes the band will play live again, mentioning the possibility of "playing again for a charitable cause" or even "a tour" in various interviews in the last few years. He also stated in 2006 that Pink Floyd have not officially disbanded yet.
Unlike the other members of Pink Floyd, Mason has rarely played an instrument other than his drum kit or large array of percussion instruments, although he has utilized tapes and contributed sound effects to many Pink Floyd albums. He has only ever played non-percussive instruments on "The Grand Vizier's Garden Party", his personal composition from Ummagumma, where he used a mellotron to play brief melodies and create ambient noises, on "Jugband Blues", where he played kazoo, and on live versions of "Outside the Wall", where he played acoustic guitar along with the rest of the band. However, on the Profiles album Mason released with Rick Fenn in 1985, he is also credited with keyboards. He can be seen playing a vibraphone in the promo video for "Lie for a Lie", but it is unknown if he actually played on the recording. Mason has also said that he took some failed piano and violin lessons as a child before taking up drums.
Mason has occasionally worked with other musicians, notably as a drummer and producer for Steve Hillage, Robert Wyatt (with whom he appeared on Top of the Pops), The Damned and Gong. He also drummed for Michael Mantler.
Mason's book, Inside Out: A Personal History of Pink Floyd, was published in the UK in October 2004. It is also available, abridged, as a 3-CD audio book, read by Mason. An updated edition was published, in paperback, in 2011.
He performed in the closing ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games on 12 August 2012. He produced and played on the charity single "Save the Children (Look Into Your Heart)", which also featured Beverley Knight, Mick Jagger and Ronnie Wood and which was released in May 2015 in aid of Save the Children's Nepal Earthquake Appeal.