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: Syd Barrett was using so much LSD almost constantly that he became very unstable,often staring into space while the rest of the band performed, missing recording sessions and shows, and even disappearing for days at a time. In January of 1968 the band brought in David Gilmour, who had gained a reputation as a skillful guitarist while performing with the local band Joker's Wild, to cover for Barrett on stage whenever he wigged out. After only a few shows as a five-piece it became apparent Barrett could no longer perform at all and one night on the way to a show the band just didn't pick him up; he was officially fired a few months later. Barrett and Pink Floyd remained friends, though, and the band even helped him record two solo albums which earned him a small cult following. Barrett retired from music permanently in the early 1970s and has lived in seclusion with family ever since, still somewhat impaired.

Pink Floyd's second album, A Saucerful of Secrets, released during the summer of 1968, expanded the band's space-rock sound while seeming less bizarre thanks to Barrett's reduced influence (he only appears on a few tracks). In 1969 the band contributed the soundtrack to an anti-drug art film called More, which was released that year as an album under the same title. A double album called Ummagumma was also released that year; one album consisted of highly erratic new material, while the other contained older cuts culled from two live performances.

In 1970 Pink Floyd released their third studio album, the extremely experimental psychedelic opus Atom Heart Mother, which featured tape loops, odd sounds, feedback and bizarre lyrics. Also that year they contributed two, more mainstream songs to the soundtrack for Zabriskie Point (which also featured contributions by the Grateful Dead, Led Zeppelin and other rock luminaries).

Pink Floyd released their next album, Meddle, in the fall of 1971. With the 23-minute long epic "Echoes" filling the entire B-side of the album, Meddle became an early Floyd classic and laid the groundwork for their next album, 1972's Obscured by Clouds, a varied album composed of shorter, more mainstream rock songs intended as the soundtrack for the French art film La Valee.

1973's Dark Side of the Moon was Pink Floyd's breakthrough album, reaching No. 1 in the U.S. and staying in the Billboard Top 200 for almost 800 weeks, the world record. Dark Side of the Moon eventually sold 25 million copies over the next 20 years, making it the fourth-best selling rock album of all time. After several tours the band returned to the studio and in 1975 released their next classic, Wish You Were Here, dedicated to the departed Syd Barrett. WishYou Were Here also marked a change in American labels, from Capitol to CBS.

After more touring and studio time, Pink Floyd's 10th release, the concept album Animals, debuted in early 1977. On yet another stadium tour that followed, an angry Roger Waters spit on a fan in Montreal; shocked at his own jaded behavior, Rogers was inspired to write his magnum opus, The Wall, a story of the alienation and gradual breakdown of a rock star. The double-album was released at the end of 1979 and gave Floyd their first No. 1 single since the '60s, "Another Brick in the Wall (Pt. 3)." Though it appeared only in New York, Los Angeles, London, and Dortmund, Germany, The Wall tour was one of the most elaborate and expensive live productions ever undertaken by a rock band, unrivaled for almost a decade. (A movie version of the story, featuring Bob Geldof of the Boomtown Rats as the lead character, was released in 1982 and has become a cult classic.)

During the recording sessions for The Wall keyboard player Richard Wright was kicked out of the band by Waters, who had became increasingly domineering and was also displeased with Wright's cocaine addiction. The next Pink Floyd album, 1983's The Final Cut was almost entirely the work of Waters and was recorded as a three-piece, without Wright. The album failed commercially, and Waters and Gilmour struggled with artistic differences, each releasing a mediocre solo album in 1984 and touring solo in 1985. Waters quit the band later that year to work on another solo album, while Gilmour, Wright and Mason began work on the next Pink Floyd album, 1987's A Momentary Lapse of Reason. Waters unsuccessfully sued Gilmour over the Pink Floyd name, eventually settling out of court.

The remaining Floyd members toured the U.S. and Europe in 1988 and issued a live album recorded on that tour, The Delicate Sound of Thunder. Though both albums sold well due to the Pink Floyd name, many fans felt that without Waters the band was a mere shadow of its former self.

During the next few years the band took time off; Waters, for his part, released another solo album and staged a production of The Wall in Berlin featuring an all-star cast. In 1994 Pink Floyd released their latest studio album, The Division Bell. The world tour that followed produced the next live album, Pulse, released in 1995. While Waters remains at work on an unspecified project, Pink Floyd is currently preparing material for a forthcoming album.