Classic Rock Bands: Profiling the History of Pink Floyd

How did Pink Floyd get its start?

Pink Floyd Perform Live In Rotterdam
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Formed in Cambridge back in 1965, Pink Floyd has established itself as one of the greatest rock bands in the history of rock and roll. In its five decades, Pink Floyd, which got its name from a combination of the names of American blues musicians Pink Anderson and Floyd Council, has sold more than 200 million albums. 

But how exactly did the band get its start? Here's everything you need to know about Pink Floyd.


The band that eventually became known as Pink Floyd started by performing covers of American R&B songs. When Syd Barrett joined the group in 1965 he began writing most of the band's songs and moved the group into the burgeoning psychedelic rock movement. Surreal lyrics and experimental electronic effects established the band as the British epicenter of psych rock.

After two albums, Barrett self-destructed due to mental instability aggravated by drug use. He was replaced by David Gilmour in 1968. The band continued to experiment, increasingly incorporating classical and jazz influences into their music.

Their innovative musical styles and flashy stage production in live performances established them as a commercially successful band with a unique sound, at the forefront of the rock opera genre with heir 1979 epic The Wall.

Original Members

Syd Barrett - Guitar, Vocals (1965-1968)
Roger Waters - Bass, Guitar, Vocals (1965-1985, 2005)
Bob Klose- Guitar (1965)
Rick Wright - Keyboards (1965-1981, 1987-1990, 1994-2005)
Nick Mason - Drums (1965-1995, 2005, 2013-2014)

First Album

The Piper At the Gates of Dawn (1967)

Original Name(s)

  • Megadeaths
  • Sigma 6
  • Screaming Abdabs
  • Abdabs
  • Architectural Abdabs
  • Tea Set
  • The Pink Floyd Sound

Influenced by

  • Jimi Hendrix, Amm (improvisational jazz group)
  • Can (German experimental rock group)
  • Byrds
  • Grateful Dead
  • Arthur Lee (Love)

Pink Floyd Today

Between the mid-70s and mid-80s, Roger Waters increasingly asserted control over the band's sound and overall direction. In 1985, Waters left to pursue a solo career and declared that Pink Floyd was done. A subsequent court battle proved otherwise, as David Gilmour retained the right to use the band's name and much of its catalog.

Pink Floyd's last studio album was 1994's The Division Bell. In July 2005, the group, Waters included, performed at the London Live 8 concert.

Both Waters and Gilmour have continued to pursue solo careers, occasionally joined by Nick Mason or Rick Wright or both to perform music from the band's glory days. All indications are that another reunion that includes both Waters and Gilmour is, at best, highly unlikely, especially in light of Wright's death in September 2008.

Current Members

David Gilmour, Nick Mason, Rick Wright

Most Recent Album

The Division Bell (1994)

Influence on

  • David Bowie
  • Genesis
  • The Nazz
  • Queen
  • Phish
  • Radiohead
  • Smashing Pumpkins
  • Yes

Significant Facts

  • More than 200-million albums sold since 1967
  • Four Grammy nominations in the '70s, '80s, and '90s
  • Helped define the Progressive Rock genre
  • One of the first bands to use pyrotechnics, video, and light shows in their stage acts
  • Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996

Essential Pink Floyd CD

Wish You Were Here
It is significant because it is so indicative of the group's intensely complicated musical compositions and elaborate studio production. The album was a tribute to founding member Syd Barrett. It was the first Pink Floyd album to reach the #1 position on both the US and UK album charts.