Pink Floyd was not the band’s first name. They were previously known by Sigma 6, T-Set, Megadeaths, Abdabs and The Pink Floyd Sound.
When Syd Barrett joined the band (which was founded before, by Roger Waters and Nick Mason) “Screaming Abdabs” (horrible name) he was determined to give it an interesting name. After some time, and already with Rick Wright in the band, he persuaded the members to accept his suggestion, The Tea Set, but when playing an amateur festival, they had to take the stage soon after another band who had that exact name. Then Barrett invented the name “Pink Floyd” and the other members ended up enjoying it.
These are the names of two obscure American bluesmen: Pink Anderson and Floyd Council.
The reasons why he specifically chose these two, among many others, are unclear. Certainly he knew his work, for between the 1950s and 1960s it was fashionable in Britain to listen to American music, especially blues.
This had great influence in English rock and many British groups recorded songs composed by Americans. You find these re-recordings in the work of The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who, Led Zeppelin (not always credited), Animals, Jethro Tull etc. David Gilmour (who was Barrett’s personal friend before joining the group) claims that Syd owned records of these artists.
There is an old story, probably invented, that Barrett would have been fascinated by these names when he saw two partially superimposed discs, so that Council’s disc covered Anderson’s last name. So it would have been for the sonority of the combination of these names that Syd kept in his memory, and at a time when he needed to quickly invent a new name for the band, he evoked them.
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