Pink Floyd: Why a Marvel Hero Was Almost Part of ‘Dark Side of the Moon’

Pink Floyd have eclectic tastes. Their music references everything from classic children’s literature to history. At one point, they almost worked Marvel Comics into their art in a major way.

The cover of Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon is famously an image of a prism. However, it was almost an image of the Silver Surfer, a famous superhero. The band really liked the idea of putting the Silver Surfer on the cover but other concerns got in the way.

The cover of Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon | Bernd Thissen/picture alliance via Getty Images

How the worlds of Pink Floyd and Marvel Comics almost collided

When Pink Floyd needed a cover for The Dark Side of the Moon, they looked to Hipgnosis, a famous design studio. Aubrey Powell, a major figure at Hipgnosis, liked the idea of putting the Silver Surfer on the cover, as did his colleagues. They all wanted the hero on the cover of the album because they liked Marvel Comics as well as the character’s aesthetic, which they found mystical and mythical.

However, Hipgnosis never got around to finishing the design. Hipgnosis employee Storm Thorgerson said the cover design may not have featured an image from a Marvel comic book. He said the people at Hipgnosis might have decided to hire someone so they could dress up as the Silver Surfer and be photographed for the cover image. That certainly would have been a striking tableau.

Could Pink Floyd have used the Silver Surfer?

However, one issue got in the way: the rights to the Silver Surfer. Hipgnosis felt they couldn’t get the rights to the character. It’s not clear if their feelings on the matter were correct.

“Money” from Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon

Fifteen years after the release of The Dark Side of the Moon, Joe Satriani used an image of the Silver Surfer on the cover of his album Surfing With the Alien. He was able to get the license for the character. If Satriani was able to get the rights for the character, Pink Floyd may have been able to as well. Pink Floyd fans and Marvel Comics fans can only imagine if Pink Floyd and the Silver Surfer would have become more or less iconic if the band used this idea for the cover.

What the band thought of the final cover

However, the band was satisfied with the minimalist cover Hipgnosis came up with for The Dark Side of the Moon. Pink Floyd member David Gilmour said he and the rest of the band liked the prism cover because they found it both brilliant and commercial. In a way, the cover is like Pink Floyd’s music – both brilliant and commercially appealing.

Gilmour recalled what he thought of the design: “It’s a brilliant cover. One can look at it after that first moment of brilliance and think, ‘Well, it’s a very commercial idea: It’s very stark and simple; it’ll look good great in shop windows.’” Ultimately, the prism on The Dark Side of the Moon became so recognizable that people who’ve never heard the album are familiar with it

Also see: Pink Floyd: Was ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ Stolen From Them?