The History of Pink Floyd

Formed in 1965 in London, England, Pink Floyd became one of the most successful rock bands of their generation. They started off as a psychedelic rock band with singer Syd Barrett. But eventually, they transitioned to progressive rock with the addition of David Gilmour on vocals and Roger Waters taking over on songwriting. Their socio-political lyrics, concept albums and use of experimental techniques led to some of the most unique and powerful sounds in rock and roll. Memorable singles include "Echoes," "Money," "Have a Cigar," "Another Brick in the Wall," and "Not Now John". In this WatchMojo.com video, we take a look at the history of Pink Floyd.
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Formation


Rock band Pink Floyd formed in London, England in 1965. After undergoing several lineup changes, they began playing clubs around the city, and recorded a demo.

Debut


By 1967, singer-guitarist Syd Barrett, bassist Roger Waters, keyboard player Rick Wright and drummer Nick Mason were signed to EMI. They released the singles “Arnold Layne” and “See Emily Play” ahead of their debut, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn. The well-received effort became one of the most influential psychedelic rock albums of the ‘60s.

Sophomore Effort Without Syd Barrett


The next year, Pink Floyd released the space rock record A Saucerful of Secrets, and it became a top-ten UK hit. However, this was the group’s first album without Barrett. The singer’s erratic behavior had led to his departure earlier that year. Fortunately, David Gilmour had been hired as a second guitarist at the end of 1967, and once Barrett left he took on vocal duties while Waters and Wright handled songwriting.

Movie Scores and More Music


The band then contributed to the scores for a number of movies, including the 1969 film “More.” Following that, they came out with the double LP Ummagumma, which consisted of live performances and experimental tunes. The next year, they had a number one UK album with Atom Heart Mother.

From Psychedelic to Progressive Rock


1971’s Meddle was another solid effort, and a top-three UK hit. The LP featured the song “Echoes,” which showcased the band’s evolution from psychedelic to progressive rock. It was followed by the album, Obscured by Clouds, which was based on the soundtrack they wrote for the movie “La Vallée.”

"The Dark Side of the Moon


1973 was the year Pink Floyd released The Dark Side of the Moon. Waters was the primary songwriter on the experimental concept album, which touched upon social and philosophical issues. The progressive rock opus went to number one in the U.S. and generated the top-twenty single “Money.” It has since become one of the world’s best-selling albums and is often considered one of the best rock albums in history.

"Wish You Were Here" and "Animals"


Up next was 1975’s Wish You Were Here. The album featured synthesizers and special audio effects, and ended up topping the UK charts. Two years later, the band released the commercially successful concept album Animals.

"The Wall"


Despite financial troubles and the departure of Wright, Pink Floyd managed to release one of their best-selling efforts in 1979: a rock opera entitled The Wall. This concept album focused on the alienated character of Pink. The Wall went to number one on the U.S. charts and spawned the band’s only number one hit: “Another Brick in the Wall (Part II).”

The Wall Tour


They supported the record with “The Wall Tour,” and this concert series built on the LP’s theatrical style with animations and puppets. A musical film entitled “Pink Floyd The Wall” was released in 1982.

Last Album With Roger Waters


Amid mounting tensions, Pink Floyd came out with The Final Cut in 1983. This number one record was credited entirely to Waters and received mixed reviews.

Pink Floyd Without Roger Waters


The members of Pink Floyd then pursued solo projects, and finally Waters left the band. However, A Momentary Lapse of Reason was released in 1987, and it featured contributions from Wright. The album went to number three in both the U.S. and the UK, despite legal issues surrounding the use of the Pink Floyd name.

A Last Number One Album


Pink Floyd’s last album was 1994’s The Division Bell. Despite negative reviews, the record went to number one and was supported by the band’s final tour. The next year, the band released a live album and concert film, both entitled “Pulse.”

Brief Reunions and Posthumous Releases


The members of Pink Floyd have reunited occasionally but have mostly concentrated on solo projects. One of their most notable performances was at the Live 8 benefit concert, where Waters played with Gilmour, Wright and Mason for the first time in over two decades. Barrett died in 2006, while Wright passed away two years later. In 2011, a campaign called “Why Pink Floyd…?” was launched to re-issue remastered versions of Pink Floyd’s discography, and a greatest hits compilation called A Foot in the Door was also released.

Legacy


With their philosophical lyrics, willingness to experiment in the studio and extravagant live performances, it is no wonder that Pink Floyd became one of the most successful rock bands of their time.
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