If you didn’t grow up with Pink Floyd as a “new and exciting band” then chances are you didn’t have the chance to paw through everything they did the first time around and you’ve spent most of your time as a fan playing catch up. They may not have always kept themselves as bright new things but for many, the name Pink Floyd is as ubiquitous with music as The Beatles and Frank Sinatra.
The band, who were formed originally of Syd Barett, Roger Waters, Nick Mason and Richard Wright with David Gilmour joining later, have been a part of the language of music for so long that the perceived silliness of their name can sometimes be forgotten. After all, there’s a fair few silly band names out there right now—but how did the band come up with their name?
For many, that question is easy. A middling knowledge of the prog-rock masters will probably grant you access to that fact but for all you Floyd aficionados out there—did you also know all the ludicrous names they rejected? Well, here we go, things are about to get a little bit trippy.
Rock band names are always a little off the cuff. Brian Jones famously named The Rolling Stones while on a call with a promoter and perusing a Muddy Waters record. Meanwhile, Led Zeppelin picked up their name after Keith Moon suggested a supergroup with him, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page would go down like a “lead zeppelin”, something Page thought was a “cool name” and grabbed it for himself. Pink Floyd’s has a similar pattern of construction.
Before the band could get to their final name they needed to run through some seriously awful incarnations. They went through such titles as The Megadeaths (always ahead of the curve), The Spectrum 5 and The Screaming Abdabs, which they shortened to The Abdabs at some point—but soon they settled on another name, The Tea Set.
It seemed to resonate with the band’s Mad Hatter ethos, but the name came unstuck when they attended a gig in 1965 at an RAF base. Upon arriving and raring to get going they soon realised that there was another band on the bill called The Tea Set—disaster awaited and their name would take a serious change.
So, like Jones before him, with a sense of urgency, Syd Barrett began workshopping band names and decided to splice two inspirations together to form one name. He referred to Pinkney “Pink” Anderson and Floyd Council. Et voila! Putting the name of two bluesmen together he created The Pink Floyd Sound.
Soon enough the band would drop the “sound” from the end of the band name and would begin finally seeing the rewards for the endless touring and tweaking of their sound. A little further down the line and Syd Barrett would be out of the band for good never to return and to, very sadly, drift into obscurity.
Pink Floyd went on to become one of the biggest names in music. They defined a genre in prog-rock, broke down both figurative and physical walls with their stunning albums and changed rock in so many ways. And they nearly did it all while being called The Tea Set.