Floyd masterpiece penned in Leeds

IT'S a song loved by Pink Floyd fans all over the world but few will know that See Emily Play was written in Leeds.

The band's second hit was penned at Leeds College of Technology - then known as Kitson College - by its psychedelic former frontman Syd Barrett, after a gig there in April 1967.

It was written specially for a huge 24-hour concert they were performing at soon after and to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the song's creation, the college is unveiling a plaque recognising its role in musical history.

Pink Floyd tribute band Breathe will perform See Emily Play at the unveiling in the former concert venue, now the college's open learning base, where Barrett, Roger Waters, Nick Mason and Richard Wright worked on the track.

Nigel Schofield, who teaches media at the college, said: "There's a certain wow-factor.

"I think we will get a good number of Pink Floyd fans - of which there are a vast number - wanting to come and look at the plaque.

"It gives the college a sense of history and heritage, which I think it's difficult for new colleges to have.

"Just the fact that there used to be rock gigs here amazes students."

The 56-year-old said it was unusual to be able to pinpoint where a song was written.

He said after a plaque was unveiled at the Widnes railway station where Paul Simon wrote the lyrics to Homeward Bound, people flocked there and started catching the train just to see it.

He added: "We hope that it will generate the same interest, that people will want to come and see it and it will be a more permanent talking point among students."

Mr Schofield, head of music at Pennine Radio - now The Pulse - in Bradford, for almost 12 years, heard about the song's Leeds origins many years ago.

But the tale was confirmed for him by rock magazine Mojo around five years ago.

The story goes that the band were performing at a hippie "happening" around two weeks after their Kitson College gig - the 24-hour Games For May concert at London's Royal Festival Hall - and wanted a new song for the occasion.

They put down a few lyric ideas during rehearsals at the Leeds college ahead of their gig, then afterwards because their instruments were out, they stayed behind to work out the rest.

They originally called the song Games For May but as they drove from Leeds to near Liverpool for their next gig, changed it to See Emily Play.

Not long after the London concert Dave Gilmour replaced fans' favourite Barrett, who suffered a drug-induced breakdown.

The college, on Cookridge Street in the city centre, opened in 1824 and has had many names before its present 10-year-old title.

Past pupils include Eric Burdon, from The Animals - the 60s band behind legendary track House of the Rising Sun, and Leeds's own former Spice Girl, Mel B, plus Hunter from 90s TV show Gladiators and various other big names.

The public, particularly Pink Floyd fans, are invited to the unveiling at the college on Friday at 2.30pm.

debbie.leigh@ypn.co.uk