Inflatable flying pigs were one of the staple props of Pink Floyd's live shows. The first was a sow, but a very obviously male pig appeared in the 1980s. Pigs appeared numerous times in concerts by the band, promoting concerts and record releases, and on the cover of their 1977 album Animals.
The image rights for the pigs passed to Roger Waters when he split from the rest of the group, though the pigs continued to be used by both post-Roger Waters Pink Floyd and Roger Waters in their gigs.
The original Pink Floyd pig was designed by Roger Waters and built in December 1976 by the artist Jeffrey Shaw with help of design team Hipgnosis, in preparation for shooting the cover of the Animals album. Plans were made to fly the forty-foot, helium-filled balloon over Battersea Power Station on the first day's photo-shoot, with a marksman prepared to shoot the pig down if it broke free. However, the pig was not launched.
On the second day, the marksman wasn't present because no one had told him to return. The pig broke free due to a strong gust of wind on the third day, gaining a lot of press coverage. It disappeared from sight within five minutes, and was spotted by airline pilots at thirty thousand feet in the air. Flights at Heathrow Airport were cancelled as the huge inflatable pig flew through the path of aircraft, eastwards from Britain and out over the English Channel, finally landing on a rural farm in Kent that night.
The pig was recovered and repaired for the resumption of photography for the album cover, but the sky was cloudless and blue, thus "boring". However, the pictures of the sky from the first day were suitable; eventually, the album cover was created using a composite of photos from the first and third days.
After the album Animals was released in 1977, Pink Floyd began their "In the Flesh" tour. During concerts, the pig appeared around the PA stacks in a cloud of black smoke during performances of "Pigs (Three Different Ones)".
The pig also appeared during each of Pink Floyd's The Wall concerts, black instead of pink, with a crossed hammers logo on its side. Waters would occasionally refer to it directly before "Run Like Hell" (the pig appeared during the end of the previous song, "In the Flesh"). A short speech in reference to either the pig or the song was given in every show, with each speech being different; this oddity is used by bootleggers to identify which date a recording of the Wall tour was made on. At the Berlin concert, it was only the head and it had fangs and red eyes.
Pink Floyd added a 'deflated' pig to Roger Waters's auction of animation art from the film The Wall at Christie's London on 21 September 1990, the lot was withdrawn before the auction started.
During the 1994 tour, two warthog-like pigs with protruding tongues were shown at the top of the stage side's speaker towers, sometimes just deflated, sometimes dropped on the ground after "One of These Days". This was also during Pulse, but for the VHS, Laserdisc and DVD releases, footage of the pigs falling was edited out.
The pig made another appearance before the release of Echoes: The Best of Pink Floyd, when Capitol Records flew a replica of the original pig from Animals over the Capitol Records Tower in Hollywood, California.
One damaged inflatable pig, believed to be from the 1988 Pink Floyd tour, was repaired by Nga Keith and flown again over a concert by the band The String Cheese Incident in Austin, Texas on 20 September 2003. Reportedly purchased by The String Cheese Incident manager Mike Luba from a former Pink Floyd stagehand, the 40-foot pig flew again over the Austin City Limits Music Festival audience during a cover of Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall (Part II)".
During their Live 8 reunion with Waters, footage of Algie, over Battersea Power Station, was shown on a giant video screen behind the band.
A replica of Algie was tethered above Battersea Power Station on 26 September 2011 to promote the Why Pink Floyd...? campaign, involving the reissue of the band's first 14 studio albums.
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