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Pink Floyd reunites to support Ukraine

After a decadeslong hiatus from recording new music, the band is releasing "Hey Hey Rise Up" to support humanitarian relief in Ukraine. Roger Waters isn't involved.
The track sees David Gilmour and Nick Mason joined by long time Pink Floyd bass player Guy Pratt and Nitin Sawhney on keyboards.
The track sees David Gilmour and Nick Mason joined by long time Pink Floyd bass player Guy Pratt and Nitin Sawhney on keyboards.Courtesy Pink Floyd

Pink Floyd is releasing new music for the first time in 28 years, with proceeds going to humanitarian relief in Ukraine.

The band's first single since 1994 will be released Friday. "Hey Hey Rise Up" samples a performance by Andriy Khlyvnyuk, the frontman of the Ukrainian rock band BoomBox.

Guitarist and singer David Gilmour told The Guardian he was inspired to make new music after he stumbled upon an Instagram video of Khlyvnyuk, who left BoomBox’s U.S. tour to join the Ukrainian army when Russia invaded.

The video showed Khlyvnyuk, dressed in tactical gear with a rifle on his shoulder, belting out the Ukrainian folk protest song "Oh, the Red Viburnum in the Meadow." The historic St. Sophia Cathedral looms behind him over otherwise empty Kyiv streets.

“I thought: that is pretty magical and maybe I can do something with this,” Gilmour told the Guardian.

Gilmour organized a recording session with drummer Nick Mason, bassist Guy Pratt and composer Nitin Sawhney. Roger Waters, who left Pink Floyd in 1985, didn’t take part. Gilmour, Mason and Pratt hadn’t recorded music together since the band’s keyboard player, Rick Wright, died in 2008.

Gilmour managed to track down and contact Khlyvnyuk, who was recently hospitalized for a shrapnel wound on his cheek.

“He showed me this tiny quarter-inch piece of shrapnel that had embedded itself in his cheek,” Gilmour told The Guardian. “He’d kept it in a plastic bag. But if you can imagine, if those kind of things are going off, it could just as easily have been a piece over an inch across, which would have taken his head off.”

Khlyvnyuk’s a capella rendition of the song is featured in “Hey Hey Rise Up,” which takes its title from the last lines of the folk song.

Gilmour has a personal connection to Ukraine. He has a Ukrainian daughter-in-law, and his grandchildren are half-Ukrainian. The grandmother of his daughter-in-law, who is Ukrainian, was in Kharkiv until three weeks ago, he told The Guardian.

The band recently removed all its works from 1987 onward and all of Gilmour’s solo recordings from all digital music providers in Russia and Belarus “to stand with the world in strongly condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine,” a post on Gilmour’s Instagram account read.

Proceeds from "Hey Hey Rise Up" will be donated to the Ukraine Humanitarian Fund, organized by the United Nations.

"I hope it will receive wide support and publicity," Gilmour said in a statement on Pink Floyd's Instagram account. "We want to raise funds and morale. We want to show our support for Ukraine and in that way, show that most of the world thinks that it is totally wrong for a superpower to invade the independent democratic country that Ukraine has become."