Friday, October 28, 2005

Apple #119: Pink Floyd's Name

A few days ago, I was listening to Dark Side of the Moon, specifically my favorite song from that album, "Time." It occurred to me to wonder how they came up with the name "Pink Floyd" anyway.
  • In the mid-1960's, Pink Floyd evolved out of a band that went through several name changes, including
    • Sigma 6
    • The Meggadeaths
    • The Screaming Abdabs
    • Tea Set
  • Tea Set was formed out of the wreckage that was The Screaming Abdabs after they broke up. Tea Set included the psychedelic/genius Syd Barrett.
  • Tea Set was slated to play a show and discovered another band to play the same night with them was also called Tea Set. Barrett, on the spur of the moment, suggested they change their names to The Pink Floyd Sound, taking the first names from from two blues musicians, Pink Anderson and Floyd Council.
  • The word "Sound" was dropped pretty quickly, but the band remained The Pink Floyd for several years, up until about 1973.
  • As the band's popularity grew through the late 1960's, Syd Barrett tried to cope by taking more LSD and more dope. Instead of feeling better, he became increasingly erratic and unstable. At one show, he de-tuned his guitar until the strings flapped, and played one note over and over. At another show, he stood with his arms at his sides, his guitar hanging, and staring into space while the rest of the band performed. This period is now generally described as an "extended nervous breakdown."
  • In 1968, David Gilmour joined the band to fill in for Syd's guitar and singing parts while he stood onstage. Eventually one day, the rest of the band decided against picking him up after a meeting, and he never played with them again.
  • As of 2002, Syd Barrett was living at his now-decesased mother's house in Cambridgeshire, England, where he mostly stays home and paints and writes. He no longer answers to his erstwhile nickname "Syd" but prefers his given name, Roger. Sometimes he answers the door, but most of the time he prefers not.
  • Pink Floyd now stands as one of the most popular and successful rock bands, having sold roughly 250 million albums around the world. On a 2001 best-of album, Echoes, nearly a fifth of the songs are written by Barrett, although he was with the band for not quite 3 of its 30-plus year life.
  • Here's a description of one of The Floyd's concerts in 1967:
    • The Floyd introduced a rudimentary quad sound-system, played taped noises from nature and had a liquid red light show. Mason was amplified sawing a log. Waters threw potatoes at a gong. The roadies pumped out thousands of soap bubbles and one of them, dressed as an admiral, threw daffodils into the stalls. The mess earnt the Floyd a ban from the hall and a favourable review from The Financial Times.
  • At a 2005 Pink Floyd reunion to raise money for poor nations, Roger Waters said:
It's actually quite emotional standing up here with these three guys after all these years. Standing to be counted with the rest of you. Anyway, we're doing this for everyone who's not here, but particularly, of course, for Syd.

For an update since this posting, see a brief entry on Syd Barrett.

Wikipedia, Pink Floyd
Dolly Rocker's Syd Barrett FAQs
For a great article on Syd Barrett, read "You Shone Like the Sun," The Observer-Guardian, October 6, 2002

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