‘It was very eerie': Vacation mishap sparked idea for Pink Floyd’s Pompeii concert

Adrian Maben’s first pitch for a concert film involving Pink Floyd was met with bemused silence. His second pitch would grow out of a vacation mishap.

Seems Maben was touring through Italy with a companion when he decided to detour into the ancient ruins of Pompeii, a deserted Italian city near modern-day Naples that was buried in ash after Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD.

“Then,” Maben says in this clip, “in the evening I suddenly realized that I’d lost my passport. And the only place I could have lost it was when we were sitting down on the stone benches of the amphitheater. It must be there somewhere, on the floor.”

Maben travelled back, this time alone, and was struck by the strange setting.

“Suddenly, while I was looking for my passport,” Maben says, “I thought: This is it. I mean, there was the silence. It was nighttime; it was very eerie. I thought: This is the place where the Pink Floyd have got to be — because Pompeii has a lot going for it. It has death, it has sex, and it has something that’s still living there. Pink Floyd, in that amphitheater, could bring the whole thing back to life.”

Pink Floyd: Live at Pompeii was issued in 1972, with the group performing its typical live set — but without an audience — something Maben says was in direct contrast to more recent hit concert films like Woodstock.

The original cut was shot over four October days in 1971, with additional shots (notable because of the absence of Rick Wright’s beard) captured later in December at Paris. Still later, footage of the band working on Dark Side of the Moon was interspersed throughout.

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