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Who is Pink Floyd anyway?

Pink Floyd is not a person; they are a band. There are five main people that are associated with the name Pink Floyd. These are (along with their birthdays),

Roger Keith (Syd) Barrett 6 January, 1946
George Roger Waters 6 September, 1943 %
Richard William Wright 28 July, 1945
Nicholas Berkeley Mason 27 January, 1945
David Jon Gilmour 6 March, 1946

% See the section on “Roger’s Birthday”

For a full and detailed history of the pre-Floyd band, we suggest you read the In The Flesh book, by Glenn Povey and Ian Russell. A short, abridged, and therefore incomplete listing is included below. The most important names are given though.

Early 1964, the Floyd-to-be formed as “Sigma 6.” They then changed to “The T-Set” (“Tea Set”), then “The Meggadeaths,” “The Screaming Abdabs,” and simply “The Abdabs.” At this point, the band’s membership consisted of:

Roger Waters, lead guitar
Clive Metcalf, bass
Richard Wright, keyboards
Nick Mason, drums
Juliette Gale, vocals
Keith Noble, vocals

NOTE: contrary to popular belief, and previous issues of this FAQ, the band was never known as “The Architectural Abdabs” this was merely the headline from an article about the band in the polytechnics school paper. The article is reprinted in the “In The Flesh” book.

The Abdabs mostly played rhythm and blues songs. Juliette later married Wright, and she, Noble, and Metcalf all quit the band. Waters then brought in Bob Klose and Syd Barrett for guitars, followed by Chris Dennis to be the lead vocalist. Dennis was soon called for duty by the Royal Air Force, however, and several months later Klose left, leaving the original recorded Pink Floyd lineup. In late ’65, they became “The Pink Floyd Sound,” then just “The Pink Floyd.” The name “Pink Floyd” came from albums by two Carolina blues artists, Pink Anderson and Floyd Council, who were in Syd Barrett’s collection.

The Floyd began to attract attention in mid-1966, frequently playing such underground hangouts as The UFO Club and The Marquee Club’s Spontaneous Underground. It was during this time that they made the transition from playing psychedelic R&B covers to doing their own songs, almost exclusively Syd Barrett compositions. As Floyd biographer Miles has said about this period, “The Floyd were the *loudest* band anyone had ever heard at that time. They were also the *weirdest*. They were *the* underground band.”

The Floyd’s growing underground popularity led to a single, “Arnold Layne,” released in March of 1967. It entered the British charts at #20, resulting in national media exposure for the band. Their follow up single, “See Emily Play,” stayed on the charts for 7 weeks, reaching #6. The Pink Floyd’s first LP, _The Piper at the Gates of Dawn_, also remained on the charts for 7 weeks, and also reached #6.

For a much better and more detailed description of the early years, we recommend Julian Palacios’ book “Lost In The Woods.”

The success that followed their first two singles and _Piper_ proved to be too much for Syd, however, as the vast quantities of drugs he was taking, the blind worship of his fans, the pressure of writing hit singles (his third attempt, “Apples and Oranges,” was a flop), and other factors all made him unpredictable on stage and in the studio. The other members of the group decided to bring in an additional guitarist to cover for Syd, and thus David Gilmour was asked to join the band (Jeff Beck was also considered, but the band was in awe of him, and thought he would command too high a price). Gilmour (not the same as jazz musician David Gilmore) had established a reputation as a guitarist and vocalist in the group “The Jokers Wild”.

With the addition of Gilmour and Syd’s declining state, it was shortly decided that the band could carry on without him, and so one night they simply didn’t pick him up on the way to a show. Barrett went on to record two solo albums (with the assistance of the Floyd’s members), and while he remained (and remains) a cult hero, he never achieved the musical popularity on his own that he did while with the group.

For a detailed history of this, please see either “Lost In The Woods” or “Crazy Diamond.”

Pink Floyd, meanwhile (having shed the “The” part of their name along with Syd), went on to be fantastically successful, following a somewhat rough start sans Barrett. They continued as a foursome from _Saucerful_ through _Animals_; it was during the _Wall_ sessions that Rick Wright was forced out of the group. By this time as well the lyrical and conceptual ambitions of Waters were clashing full on with the musical ideas of Gilmour. On the subsequent _Final Cut_ album, Gilmour acted as little more than a session musician, though the album contains some of his finest guitar work. At that point, it seemed impossible that they would ever work together again, and thus Pink Floyd was seen as dead. To heighten this impression, both Waters and Gilmour produced solo albums, neither of which did terribly well on the charts or as draws for the tours the two embarked on.

What happened next is more fully detailed in the section on “when did Waters leave.” In short, Waters decided to officially leave the group; Gilmour and Mason subsequently decided to record an album under the Pink Floyd name. Waters, who thought the name best laid to rest, sued them over its use. The two parties eventually reached a settlement before the matter ever reached court.

Waters also remained active musically, following up his first solo album, _Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking_, with contributions to the movie soundtrack, “When the Wind Blows.” His next solo album was _Radio KAOS_, for which he again toured. Again, neither was a great success commercially; certainly not by Pink Floyd standards. Later, in 1990, he staged what was certainly one of the more memorable music “events” in recent history, with his _Wall in Berlin_ charity concert. His most recent work, _Amused to Death_, was not the sales success it was hoped it would be, despite its commercial hype. This was to the great disappointment of many of his fans, who thought that ATD was his best work yet. At this point in time (July 1999) a Waters solo tour through the U.S. has been announced (see http://www.roger-waters.com for full details).

Meanwhile, Pink Floyd (now consisting of Dave Gilmour and Nick Mason) did not die, certainly not legally. Their first post- Waters release, _A Momentary Lapse of Reason_, was a commercial success, and the two member Floyd followed it up with an extensive world tour. In 1994, after several years off, the group, now with a full three members, released _The Division Bell_, and embarked on another tour. A live recording from this tour is the content of their most recent release, _Pulse_.

…which is where things stand right now, pretty much. For the latest rumors of what lies ahead, check out the the section on “Rumor Mill”.

Roger’s Birthday
[Thanks to Daniel Cotten (dcotten@wt.net)]

One would hate to impeach such an unimpeachable authority as Mr. Fitch over such a trivial matter, however, the REG site claims to have the correct date through Water’s manager:

Roger’s birthday confused to death

I am often getting asked: “When is Roger Waters Birthday?” As any well read fan I used to reply: Why on Sept. 9, 1944 of course. Wrong!

Little did I know that I had been dispensing inaccurate information for years! Because of the confusion regarding the year of Roger’s birth, I reported the truth of the matter in REG issue #15. There had been a publishing discrepancy regarding the year that Roger was born. Some books reported that Roger was born in 1944, others reported that it was 1943. I learned that it was statistically impossible for Roger to have been born in 1944. The correct year of Roger’s birth is in fact 1943.

However, the confusion did not stop there. I understand that he was born in 1943, but on what day? A number of reliable sources list September 6th as his birth date, while other reliable sources list September 9th as his date of birth.

September 9, is listed as Roger’s birth date in various promo materials. Even though they list conflicting years, September 9, is also listed as Roger’s birth date in the book Pink Floyd, A Visual Documentary by Miles, and in Schaffner’s Pink Floyd – A Saucerful of Secrets biography.

However, Roger’s birth date is listed as September 6, 1943 in the Pink Floyd – In the Flesh book by Glenn Povey & Ian Russell, as well as in a number of magazine articles, and in the Encyclopedia of Rock Stars book.

To solve this dilemma, I called up an unimpeachable source, Mark Fenwick, Roger Waters’ manager. Asked about the truth regarding this matter he replied; Roger Waters was born September 6, 1943!

So there you have it, the true birth date of Roger Waters, almost from the horse’s mouth so to speak.

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