One of the most popular bands in the history of rock music, England's Pink Floyd transcended its beginnings as a psychedelic R&B cover group to become a highly inventive, technically gifted space rock band that sold out stadiums throughout the '70s and earned its place in the classic rock pantheon with numerous platinum-selling albums. After the departure of lyricist/bassist Roger Waters in the early '80s, the band entered hibernation as Waters and guitarist/vocalist David Gilmour fought over the legal rights to the band's name. After a settlement, Gilmour, along with founding members Richard Wright (keyboards)and Nick Mason (drums) continued on as Pink Floyd, releasing new albums and touring twice in the late '80s and '90s.
Pink Floyd's roots go way back to the early 1960s, when Waters, Wright and Mason were in an R&B band together while at art school in Cambridge. After numerous lineup and name changes, the group settled on the name Pink Floyd (taken from the name two American blues musicians, Pink Anderson and Floyd Council) and featured Waters on bass, Wright on keyboards, Mason on drums and a friend named Syd Barrett on guitar and vocals.
By 1966 Pink Floyd was a popular band at underground clubs in Britain and was playing original music - weird psychedelic rock played at incredible volumes, accompanied by a fancy light show. EMI released a single by the group, "Arnold Layne," in March of 1967, and it entered the U.K. charts at No. 2. A follow-up single, "See Emily Play," reached No. 6 and stayed on the charts for almost two months, leading the band to release their full-length debut, the psychedelic The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, later that year.
While their first album was sitting high on the U.K. charts, the band was facing a personnel crisis:...