Pink Floyd

Pink Floyd were an English space-rock/psych band that was active as a recording unit during the latter-third of the 20th century. Emerging amidst rock’s turn toward album-oriented artistry, the band swiftly progressed from whimsical beginnings to a headier, skyward sonic approach.

Members: Nick Mason (drums, percussion, tapes, vocals), Roger Waters (bass, guitar, gong, trumpet, synthesizer, tapes, vocals, 1963-85), Richard Wright (keyboards, organ, synthesizer, piano, celeste, penny whistle, drums, Mellotron, tapes, vocals, guitar, 1963-79, 1987-2008), Syd Barrett (vocals, guitar, tapes, 1964-68), David Gilmour (guitar, bass, piano, drums, organ, Mellotron, synthesizer, keyboards, tapes, vocals, 1967-2015)

The roots of Pink Floyd trace to Sigma 6, an R&B/beat sextet co-founded in 1963 by London Polytechnic architecture students Roger Waters and Nick Mason, who were soon joined by fellow pupil Richard Wright. (Two early members, Keith Noble and Clive Metcalfe, formed a songwriting partnership that yielded “A Summer Song,” a 1964 US #7 for pop duo Chad & Jeremy.) A series of lineup changes over the next year paired the band down to Waters (bass), Mason (drums), Wright (keyboards), Bob Klose (guitar), and Water’s childhood friend Syd Barret (vocals/guitar). This lineup performed as The Screaming Abdabs before temporarily identifying as The Tea Set.

In December 1964, they demoed six songs: the Slim Harpo cover “I’m a King Bee,” Water’s “Walk with Me Sydney” (with vocals by Juliette Gale, Wright’s first wife), and the Barret originals “Lucy Leave,” “Double O Bo,” “Remember Me,” and “Butterfly.” (These recordings were issued a half-century later on the archival Pink Floyd release 1965: Their First Recordings.) It was shortly after these sessions that Klose, under pressure from family and tutors, exited the band.

During 1965, The Tea Set became the resident act at the Countdown Club near Kensington High Street, where they played three 90-minute sets each date. To avoid song repetition, they elongated the instrumental passages on select numbers, thus developing a looser style that sometimes verged on free-form. Upon learning of another act with the Tea Set moniker, Barrett conceived the name Pink Floyd Sound as an ode to his two favorite bluesmen, Pink Anderson and Floyd Council.

In 1966, they were taken under the managerial wing of business partners Peter Jenner and Andrew King, who purchased the band a more advanced arsenal of equipment. At Jenner’s suggestion, the nameplate was shortened to Pink Floyd.

Despite resistance to their sound in certain quarters, Pink Floyd developed a following in clubs like the Marquee on Oxford Street. That December, they played the opening nights of the UFO Club, which became the epicenter of London’s burgeoning psychedelic rock scene. Floyd co-headlined the first two Fridays with another new act, the Soft Machine.

In early 1967, Pink Floyd signed to EMI. They released their first single, “Arnold Layne” (b/w “Candy and a Currant Bun”), that March on the label’s Columbia imprint. The two sides, both Barret originals, were recorded on 1/29/67 at Sound Techniques and produced by Joe Boyd.

Discography (1967–87):

  • The Piper at the Gates of Dawn (1967)
  • A Saucerful of Secrets (1968)
  • More (1969)
  • Ummagumma (1969)
  • Atom Heart Mother (1970)
  • Meddle (1971)
  • Obscured by Clouds (1972)
  • The Dark Side of the Moon (1973)
  • Wish You Were Here (1975)
  • Animals (1977)
  • The Wall (1979)
  • The Final Cut (1983)
  • A Momentary Lapse of Reason (1987)


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