The seeds of the band known today as Pink Floyd were first sewn in the mid-1960s. The band, which formed formally in 1965, has gone on to make some of the most impactful and beloved albums of all time (The Dark Side of the Moon, anyone?).
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But what about their name? What about the moniker Pink Floyd? What does it mean? Who is Floyd and why is he pink?
We’ll begin to answer those questions here today. But first, a little bit of music.
Humble Rock Beginnings
The English rock band was formed in London in 1965. The group quickly rose to popularity for its inventive, psychedelic style that featured long experimental guitar solos and longer songs. Mixed with philosophical lyrics, the band was both entertaining and thought-provoking.
Founded by Syd Barrett, Nick Mason, Roger Waters, and Richard Wright, the band had several names before landing on the one we now know today. The band released its first album The Piper at the Gates of Dawn in 1967. Guitarist David Gilmour joined that same year and Barrett left in 1968, suffering from mental illness and drug use.
The band released The Dark Side of the Moon in 1973, Wish You Were Here in 1975, Animals in 1977, and The Wall in 1979. What a remarkable run of music.
Waters and Mason met in school in London. They first played together in a group called the Sigma 6. Waters played lead guitar, Mason drummed and Wright was on rhythm guitar. Later, during those formative years, Sigma 6 went through some other name changes, including Meggadeaths, the Abdabs, and the Screaming Abdabs. Also: Leonard’s Lodgers and the Spectrum Five. Finally, they landed on the name the Tea Set.
1965: Pink Floyd
That year, Barrett, now in the group, took over on lead guitar. The group then rebranded itself in late 1965, first referring to themselves as the Pink Floyd Sound. Later it was The Pink Floyd and after that, it was shortened simply to Pink Floyd.
According to lore, Barrett came up with the name in the spur of the moment when he found out there was another band called the Tea Set, which was slated to perform at one of their gigs. The name Pink Floyd comes from the given names of two prominent blues musicians, who Barrett loved: Pink Anderson and Floyd Council.
Today, the band is revered. And like other bands who have names that seemingly make little sense on the face of it, Pink Floyd is both odd and mysterious and ubiquitous and taken at face value. Say the name to any music fan and they’re likely to light up before spewing their favorite album and song titles from the progressive rock group.