The names Pink and Floyd came from two of Syd Barrett’s favourite Carolina bluesmen, Pink Anderson and Floyd Council, which he merged together and voila!
People often assumed Pink Floyd was the name of a person in the band, especially stupid record industry people. The band sent this up with the line “which one’s Pink?” on the ‘Wish You Were Here’ song ‘Have A Cigar’ in 1975.
‘Arnold Layne’ – their first single and a minor hit at the time (it has subsequently achieved classic status) was based on a real life person Roger Waters knew who would steal women’s clothes and knickers from washing lines.
The b-side to ‘Arnold Lane’ – the psychedelic ‘Candy and a Currant Bun’ – was faithfully covered by Mars Volta and given away free with ‘The Bedlam in Goliath’ album via the mildly pointless VinylDisc format (vinyl on one side, CD on the other).
During the second part of the 60’s, The Pink Floyd (as they were known then) became regulars at the Roundhouse in Camden as well as the legendary UFO Club.
The name The Pink Floyd was used right up to the late 60’s – the ‘The’ disappeared not long after the departure of Syd Barrett. Syd’s acid-induced schizophrenia got so bad that the band had no option to go on without him, and they parted company on the way to a show in 1968.
Barrett famously turned up at Abbey Road when Roger Waters was recording the vocal for ‘Shine On You Crazy Diamond’ about him. He’d put on excessive weight and had shaved his eyebrows and lost most of his hair. His appearance was so disturbing that Waters and Gilmour reportedly cried.
Pink Floyd also played as The Tea Set in their earlier incarnation. This moniker was settled upon for a while at least after a plethora of name changes, which included: Sigma 6, Meggadeaths, the Abdabs and the Screaming Abdabs, Leonard’s Lodgers, and the Spectrum Five.
A film of their 1967 Alexandra Palace show – part of the legendary ‘14 Hour Technicolor Dream’ – still survives and is available on DVD. Yoko Ono is there performing an art installation, and John Lennon is captured among the crowd, although at the time the pair had not met.
The 1970 album name ‘Atom Heart Mother’ was apparently inspired by a newspaper headline about a woman being fitted with the first ever atomic pacemaker.
The cow on Pink Floyd’s ‘Atom Heart Mother’ album had a name too, which was Lulubelle III. Sadly Lulubelle is no longer with us.
Hipgnosis, the team behind most of Pink Floyd’s album covers, actually presented the band with the inverted swimmer that would eventually become the cover of Def Leppard’s iconic ‘High ‘n’ Dry’ album, for ‘Atom Heart Mother’. The band rejected it and opted for the cow instead.
‘The Dark Side of the Moon’ was the best selling album in the world for a while (it is still third best seller ever), shifting so many units that one in 12 people is said to own a copy.
The laughter heard on ‘The Dark Side of the Moon’ tracks ‘Speak to Me’ and ‘Brain Damage’ came from Peter Watts, a Pink Floyd road manager at the time. Watts died of a heroin overdose in 1976.
Dark Side of the Moon is said to sync perfectly with The Wizard of Oz and led to conspiracy theories that the band had written it with that purpose in mind. To quell the rumours, Nick Mason said they’d intended to soundtrack The Sound of Music instead.
One of Pink Floyd’s most iconic covers is ‘Animals’ – Pink Floyd’s 10th studio album – featuring Battersea Power Station and in the distance a flying pig. The porcine balloon and the title were both in reference to George Orwell’s Animal Farm which informed much of the lyrical content.
That’s not forgetting art director Storm Thorgerson of course, who collaborated almost as an auxiliary member of the band and came up with the iconic album cover for ‘The Dark Side of the Moon’.
As well as writing ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?’, bringing the world Live Aid and taking a song about classroom shootings to no.1 (the Boomtown Rats’ ‘I Don’t Like Mondays’), Bob Geldof also starred in the lead role for Pink Floyd’s filmed version of ‘The Wall’.
The last Pink Floyd album Roger Waters appeared on was ‘The Final Cut’ – a work he conceived and wrote with no help from the others (David Gilmour expressed misgivings about the record later).
Waters took the other members of Pink Floyd to court in the mid-80s in the hope of barring them from continuing with the name. He recently admitted regretting the litigation.
The album ‘The Division Bell’ was named by Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy author Douglas Adams.
Richard Wright was sacked from the band during ‘The Wall’ sessions for not pulling his weight. He returned to Pink Floyd for their 1987 Gilmour-led ‘A Momentary Lapse of Reason’ album, but for legal reasons was not reinstated as a full member again until the group toured ‘The Division Bell’ in 1994.
Charlie Gilmour is the son of Sampson and novelist Heathcote Williams, and is David Gilmour’s adopted son. Charlie was jailed in 2011 for violent disorder during student fees demonstrations, after famously swinging from a union flag on the Cenotaph whilst under the influence of whisky and acid.
Roger Waters caused an international furore in December 2013 and was accused of antisemitism when he compared modern day Israelis to the nazis. Speaking about “oppression” of the Palestinians in a magazine interview he said: “The parallels with what went on in the 1930s in Germany are so crushingly obvious.”
In 2005 Waters joined Mason, Gilmour and Wright for the first (and last) show the four would do together since Earl’s Court in 1981. The special occasion was Live8, an event to put pressure on G8 leaders and to Make Poverty History, organised by – who else – Bob Geldof.