‘There were more names than gigs’: On the history of Pink Floyd, before they were Pink Floyd

Sorting through the history of Pink Floyd’s name involves more than the genealogy of Piedmont bluesmen Pink Anderson and Floyd Council. That’s where Nick Mason, the only member to have been in all of the group’s varied incarnations, comes in handy.

“It was The Pink Floyd Sound initially,” Mason reminds, in a talk with Sonic Reality. “But it was too difficult to fit onto a poster, I suppose. So it got chopped and cut.”

And even The Pink Floyd Sound followed a series of other, earlier mid-1960s names. One of best known Floyd antecedent bands was Sigma 6, which featured Mason, Rick Wright and Roger Waters. Initially formed simply to present songs to a music publisher, that group soon morphed into several others after the publisher said “the songs weren’t bad, but the band were terrible,” Mason says.

They were, in no particular order, also known as the Screaming Abdabs, the Meggadeaths and the Tea Set, among other titles. “There were more names,” Mason quips, “than gigs.” By then, Syd Barrett had joined. He ultimately gave the group the one that stuck, but only after running into another outfit who shared their name in 1965.

“Basically what happened was,” Mason adds, “we were doing a show somewhere, and there was a band who went on before us who were also called the Tea Set. So, Syd came up with the idea of Pink Floyd from an old blues record — and the rest is history, as they say.”

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