Pink Floyd has never been known for doing things half-assed. Think it’s hard enough to make a 10-minute song interesting? Pink Floyd released a freaking half-hour epic, and it was still a hit. Thought The Wall was just an artistic metaphor? Pink Floyd didn’t, because they made building a goddamn wall a thing at their shows. Roger Waters still does it on his solo tours from time to time. So when Pink Floyd wanted the cover of their album Animals to be a giant pig floating over London’s Battersea Power Station, you can bet they were going to make some pigs fly.
In 1976, the band paired up with design team Hipgnosis, led by Aubrey Powell, to help them make the legendary album art a reality. Powell and Waters already knew they wanted to use Battersea as the backdrop, as Waters was a fan of the architecture, and since the band had already bought a 40-ft inflatable pig, affectionately named “Algie,” for their upcoming tour, the pair put two and two together and knew exactly what they were going to do. Obviously, getting the porker in between the chimneys of a then-fully operational power plant was no easy task, so Powell and the band carefully planned just about everything to ensure success.
They specifically chose December 2nd as the day of the shoot, as the weather promised only partly cloudy skies and the band didn’t want the sky to look “boring,” they knew ahead of time what angle and distance they were going to take the picture, and they even hired a marksman in case Algie got loose and had to be knocked out of the sky. But, like all best laid plans of mice and men, things went askew on the day of the shoot. For reasons still unknown, Algie wasn’t having it on his big day, and the pig simply wouldn’t inflate properly. It was a shame, because the one thing that worked out that day was the not-boring sky. As Powell remembered, “That day there was the most incredible, Turner-esque sky,” so, just to capture the moment, he took some pigless pictures of Battersea anyway.
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