Nicholas Berkeley “Nick” Mason (born January 27, 1944 in Edgbaston, Birmingham, England) is the drummer for Pink Floyd. He has been the only constant member of the band since its formation. He also competes in auto racing events, such as the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The son of the documentary film maker Bill Mason, he was born in Birmingham but brought up in Hampstead, London (many online biographies mistakenly cite the street address Downshire Hill sometimes as “the Downshire Hills” as a district of Birmingham) and attended Frensham Heights School, Surrey. He later studied at the Regent Street Polytechnic (now the University of Westminster), where he teamed up with Roger Waters, Bob Klose and Richard Wright in 1964 to form Pink Floyd’s predecessor, Sigma 6.
Mason has played drums on every Pink Floyd album, although it was later revealed that his contributions to the album A Momentary Lapse of Reason were quite minimal.
Despite conflicts over ownership of the name ‘Pink Floyd’, Roger Waters and Nick Mason are now on good terms. Mason joined Waters on the last two nights of his 2002 world tour to play drums on the Pink Floyd song “Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun”, and he also played drums on some concerts of Waters’ European tour in 2006, and during performances in Los Angeles and New York City in the United States. On May 12, 2007, Mason joined Waters again on stage at Earls Court to play Dark Side of the Moon.
In July 2005, Mason, Gilmour, Wright, and Waters played together on stage for the first time in 24 years. A four song set was played at the Live 8 concert in London. Mason also joined David Gilmour and Richard Wright for the encore during Gilmour’s show at the Royal Albert Hall, London, on May 31, 2006, reuniting the post-Waters Pink Floyd. Mason has also claimed to be the link between Gilmour and Waters, and believes the band will play live again. His answers have ranged from “playing again for a charitable cause” to “a tour” given in various interviews in the last few years. He also stated in 2006 that Pink Floyd have not officially disbanded yet.
The only Pink Floyd songs that are solely credited to Mason are “The Grand Vizier’s Garden Party Parts 1-3 (from Ummagumma) and “Speak to Me” (from The Dark Side of the Moon). The one-off song by the band entitled Nick’s Boogie was named after him.
The only times Mason’s voice has been included on Pink Floyd’s albums are “Corporal Clegg”, the single spoken line in “One of These Days” and spoken parts of “Signs of Life” and “Learning to Fly” (the latter taken from actual recording of Mason’s first solo flight) from A Momentary Lapse of Reason. He does, however, sing lead vocals on two unreleased but heavily bootlegged tracks, “Scream Thy Last Scream” (1967) and “The Merry Xmas Song” (1975-1976). In live performances of the song “Sheep”, he did the spoken section.
Unlike the other members of Pink Floyd, Mason has rarely played an instrument other than his usual one (drums). He has only ever played non-percussive instruments on “The Grand Vizier’s Garden Party”, his personal composition from Ummagumma, where he provided some keyboard, guitar and bass noises, and on live versions of “Outside the Wall”, where he played acoustic guitar along with the rest of the band. He has claimed that he took some failed violin and piano lessons as a child.
Mason has done some work with other people, notably as a drummer and producer for Steve Hillage, Robert Wyatt, The Damned and Gong. He also drummed for Michael Mantler.
Mason is married (to his second wife, Nettie) and has four children; two daughters (Holly and Chloe) from his first marriage and two sons (Guy and Cary) from his second. They live in Hampstead, London however they often stay in the Wiltshire town of Corsham in the former home of Camilla Parker Bowles.
As Floyd’s recording and touring schedule grew more sporadic, Mason was left with more time to pursue his favourite hobby, auto racing. He owns (through his company Ten Tenths) and races several classic cars, and has competed successfully at the 24 hours of Le Mans. His collection has been a subject of his 1998 book, Into the Red which he documents his experience with his cars along with some histories. He is also a qualified pilot, and flies a Aerospatiale AS 350 Squirrel helicopter in specially painted colours.
Mason was invited by Ferrari to purchase one of their 400 Enzos, which Jeremy Clarkson pleaded with him to borrow for reviewing purposes on the BBC motoring programme Top Gear. Mason agreed, on the sole condition that throughout the review, Clarkson promoted the release of Inside Out: A Personal History of Pink Floyd. This led to Clarkson using Pink Floyd album titles in his description of the Enzo and The Stig driving round the track with Another Brick In The Wall playing. Mason says that his favourite car of all time is the Ferrari 250 GTO, and owns one of the 36 built. He later sold his Ferrari Enzo to millionaire Mohammad Jamil for Ā£650 000.
Nick Mason’s book, Inside Out: A Personal History of Pink Floyd, was published in the UK in October 2004. It is also available, abridged, as a 3CD audio book, read by Mason.