The Truth About How Pink Floyd Got Its Name

You can't talk about psychedelic rock without mentioning Pink Floyd at least once. Albums like "The Dark Side of the Moon" and "The Wall" were huge on the charts, while songs such as "Money," "Comfortably Numb," and "Another Brick in the Wall" are still mainstays of classic rock playlists and examples of how the band was willing to evolve beyond its roots and come up with a distinctive sound. Likewise, singer-bassist Roger Waters and guitarist David Gilmour are undisputed rock legends, though we shouldn't discount the contributions of troubled and enigmatic original frontman Syd Barrett, keyboardist Richard Wright, and drummer Nick Mason to Pink Floyd's greatness. And the group's unusual name can be considered another reason why they've become pop culture icons — for instance, lead character Randall "Pink" Floyd (Jason London) from "Dazed and Confused" couldn't have had a better nickname. But what's the deal with the name Pink Floyd anyway?

When it comes to how Pink Floyd got its name, one may think it was probably cooked up by the band (or Barrett) while on some sort of acid trip. However, the name's origins may not be what you expect them to be, and the story behind the band name dates back to their earliest days, well before the psychedelic and progressive rock excursions that most fans know them for.

They were named after two American bluesmen

Pink Floyd started out similar to how many other young British bands did in the mid-'60s — they were heavily influenced by blues and R&B acts from across the pond. As recalled by Far Out Magazine, they also had some trouble sticking to a band name at first. Some of these early names included the Megadeaths (not to be confused with Dave Mustaine's thrash metal band), the Spectrum 5, the Screaming Abdabs, and the (no longer screaming) Abdabs. At some point, they decided to call themselves the Tea Set, but when they arrived at a show at a Royal Air Force base in 1965 and discovered that there was another band with the exact same name, they realized that they needed to come up with something new, and fast.

Leave it to Syd Barrett to figure it out. Much like Brian Jones chose to name his band the Rolling Stones after randomly spotting a Muddy Waters album while on the phone with a Jazz News reporter, Barrett got his band's new name by combining the first names of two other American blues musicians, Pinkney "Pink" Anderson and Floyd Council. Problem solved — the Tea Set was now the Pink Floyd Sound, and the boys no longer had to worry about playing a gig with an identically named group on the same bill. And with the band now using elaborate light shows during their sets and developing a more experimental, original sound (via, they would go back and forth between calling themselves "The Pink Floyd Sound" and "Pink Floyd" before ultimately settling on the shorter, simpler name.