Plenty of people in the music business can tell stories about sex, drugs and rock and roll. But former Seattle radio executive Beau Phillips is probably the only one who can lay claim to getting Pink Floyd’s iconic pig killed.
Phillips, who ran Seattle’s iconic rock station KISW for 14 years during its heyday starting in the late 70’s, has a lifetime of revealing, hilarious and sometimes heartwarming stories from his decades in music with the likes of Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, Van Halen, Paul McCartney and many other greats.
“People would say for years ‘you should really write this down you should really write a book,'” Phillips says of the inspiration for his debut memoir “I Killed Pink Floyd’s Pig,” coming out next month.
The book features 35 stories with plenty of the obligatory debauchery you’d expect, like throwing TV’s with Led Zeppelin or trashing hotel rooms with Joe Walsh. But it’s the other behind the scenes stuff like killing Pink Floyd’s pig that makes the book so memorable.
“It was a very special time,” Phillips said in an interview for KIRO Radio’s Seattle Sounds. “It was a time when music was just exploding. We couldn’t get out of the way of all the great bands, you know, now the mainstays of classic rock.”
And it was a time that radio was the big dog in the business, meaning bands and managers would go out of their way to accommodate stations like KISW. That’s how Phillips convinced Pink Floyd’s management to lend him their 40-foot high inflatable pig to promote the band’s Kingdome gig.
“Being a main road in town, we thought it would be cool to fly the pig and have people talk about it and see what’s going on,” Phillips says of his plan to fly the pig over the station alongside Aurora Avenue.
“In order to get the pig I had to sell my soul and promise Pink Floyd I would guard it with my life and deliver it to them by noon on the day of their concert.”
The pig became a major draw, as TV news helicopters flew over and traffic slowed to a crawl for fans to take shots of the inflatable flying overhead.
But on the day of the show, Phillips got an early morning call from a DJ at the station telling him the pig was gone.
“Everything is going through my head that Pink Floyd needs this pig tonight for the concert,” he recalls. At first, he thought it had flown away just as it had in London several years before.
After climbing the roof, he discovered the pig wasn’t gone. Instead, someone had shot it down with a hunting arrow. And Phillips freaked out. The pig was due at the Kingdome several hours later.
He scrambled to get the 300 pound canvas fabric off the roof and to someone who could perform emergency surgery. After calling all over town, Phillips found someone who could repair it quickly, and they got the pig to the Kingdome just hours before the show. He handed it over in its deflated form and bit his tongue. Then he held his breath when the pig emerged at its appointed time during the show high above the crowd.
“When it came out in front of 50,000 people and the light hit the pig, I may have been the only one who noticed the big gash in its chest and the patch we had to put over,” he laughs.
Phillips says he never heard if Pink Floyd figured out he got their pig shot down.
“We just hightailed it out of there. I didn’t want to stick around,” he says.