Pink Floyd were a unique English Rock band, formed in 1965, who gained prominence as one of the earliest British psychedelic and progressive rock bands. The band’s most noted line-up included founding members were as follows:
- Roger Waters (vocals, bass guitar)
- Nick Mason (drums)
- Syd Barrett (lead vocals, guitar)
- Richard Wright (vocals, keyboard)
- David Gilmour (vocalist, guitarist)
All four were still students at the London Polytechnic when they formed the group. David Gilmour joined the band in 1967, while Barrett left the group in 1968 as a result of his deteriorating mental condition.
Some of their most profound work include the likes of the following:
- 1967’s The Piper at the Gates of Dawn
- 1973’s The Dark Side of the Moon
- 1979’s The Wall
- 1994’s The Division Bell
- 2014’s The Endless River
History of Pink Floyd
Founding members Roger Waters and Nick Mason first met at the London Polytechnic, Regent Street while they were both studying architecture. The two first played together in a band formed by Clive Metcalfe, Keith Noble and his sister Sheilagh.
Later that year, fellow architecture student Richard Wright joined the band making it a sextet, called Sigma 6. Mason played drums. Waters was on the lead guitar. Wright played rhythm guitar. Sigma 6 often performed songs at small private events.
By September 1963, Mason and Waters had moved into an apartment in London. Mason moved out the following academic year, while guitarist Bob Klose moved in his place in September 1964.
Waters had to switch to playing bass after Mason’s temporary departure. Sigma 6 continued performing but went through several name changes including the Abdabs and the Meggadeaths. Metcalfe and Noble soon left to start their own band, leaving Syd Barrett to join Klose and Waters at their Stanhope Gardens flat.
The rest of the Tea Set team, which now had a new lead singer, Chris Dennis, in December 1964, recorded for the first time at a West Hampstead studio. Dennis was soon posted to Bahrain by the Royal Air Force, and Barrett took over as the band’s frontman.
In 1965, they had become the resident band at Countdown Club, playing three sets per night. Klose also quit the group in mid-1965, leaving Barrett to switch to playing the lead guitar.
Pink Floyd Sound
The group’s former name Pink Floyd Sound was first used in the latter parts of 1965. Syd Barrett came up with the name when he realized that a different band also named the Tea Set were enlisted to perform at a gig. He derived the name from the stage names of two blues musicians, namely Pink Anderson and Floyd Council, whose records he had kept in his music collection.
Pink Floyd Sound had built a solid repertoire of rhythm and blues and by 1966, they started receiving paid bookings. One of such performances at the Marquee Club in December that year, gave them exposure to London School of Economics lecturer, Peter Jenner. Peter, who had now become impressed by the band, paired with his friend and business partner Andrew King, to become their manager.
The pair, with funds generated from King’s inheritance, purchased approximately £1,000 (equivalent to £18,800 in 2019), worth of new equipment and instruments for the band, and set up Blackhill Enterprises. Peter Jenner then suggested that they remove the ‘Sound’ from their band name, thus simplifying it to Pink Floyd. The managers used their influence and connections to secure prominent coverage in newspapers such as the Sunday Times and Financial Times.
The band fortified their business terms with Blackhill Enterprises, making them equal partners with King and Jenner, with each band member having a one-sixth share.
By 1967, Pink Floyd started to gain more attention in the music scene. They soon signed a recording deal with EMI, releasing their first single, Arnold Layne with its B-side, Candy and a Currant Bun on March 10, 1967.
Pink Floyd is considered one of the most influential and commercially successful rock bands of all time. They actually have an estimated sale of over 250 million records globally.
MSNBC has ranked them number 8 on their 2004 list of “The 10 Best Rock Bands Ever”. Rolling Stone also named them number 51 on their list of the “The 100 Greatest Artists of All Time”.
VH1 has listed the band as number 18 on their list of the “100 Greatest Artists of All Time”.
The band’s influence has been credited by several artists including the legendary David Bowie, who particularly mentioned Barrett as one of his major music inspirations.
Top bands and artists such as the following have all cited them as great musical influences:
- Steven Wilson
- Nine Inch Nails
- Steven Wilson
- The Smashing Pumpkins
In 1996, they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, then the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2005, and the Hit Parade Hall of Fame later in 2010.
In 2016, they became the second rock band, after the Beatles to have been featured on a chain of UK postage stamps delivered by the Royal Mail.
Pink Floyd and its members have received numerous awards over the span of their music career. Audio engineer, James Guthrie, in 1981 received the Grammy Award for Best Engineered Non-Classical Album for their album titled The Wall.
King Carl XVI Gustaf, presented the group with the Polar Music Prize for their contribution to modern music in 2008.
Interesting Facts about Pink Floyd
Pink Floyd’s debut album, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, was recorded in 1967 at Abbey Road, adjacent to The Beatles who happened to be recording Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, at the same time.
They were the first band to headline the first live concert at Hyde Park, London on June 29, 1968.
Pink Floyd’s 1988 live album titled Delicate Sound of Thunder became the first rock album ever to be played in space.
In April 1968, Barrett left the band due to his deteriorating mental health. Wright also left in 1979, followed by Roger Waters who left in 1985 due to personal tensions and disagreements. Mason and Gilmour continued to play as Pink Floyd and were rejoined by Wright later to produce their 1987 and 1994 albums. The whole band with the exception of Barrett reunited in 2005 to perform at the Live 8 concert. Barrett died the following year, while Wright passed on in 2008.
While Pink Floyd is best remembered for their earlier albums, they continue to exist as an influential and distinct force to reckon with when it comes to the rock music industry.
During the Live 8 concert in London on July 2, 2005, Mason, Wright, Gilmour and Waters reunited to perform as Pink Floyd after over 24 years and for what became their last performance as a band before it was completely dissolved. Syd Barrett passed away in July 2006, while Wright, 65, died of cancer in September 2008.