It’s not the biggest kept secret around, but it’s not widely known either – Sanford is the final resting place for the namesake of one of rock music’s biggest bands.
Now, two locals are working to make sure that bluesman Floyd Council, from whom British psychedelic rock legends Pink Floyd got half of their name (along with South Carolina bluesman Pink Anderson), gets the recognition they believe he deserves.
“When I tell people about the connection between Sanford and Pink Floyd, they look at me like I’m crazy,” said John Holly, a recently-retired sheriff’s deputy who has started the process of putting together an organization that he hopes will bring attention to Council, his music and its connection to Sanford and Lee County. “He was a pretty well known musician here in central North Carolina.”
According to Wikipedia, Council was raised in Chapel Hill and was a Piedmont blues artist in the 1920s and 1930s. He stopped playing after having a stroke in the 1960s, and although he only recorded a handful of songs, he was apparently well-regarded enough in the blues world that a young Syd Barrett turned part of his name into “Pink Floyd” when his band the Tea Set was looking for a new name.
Council, who had moved to Sanford some years earlier, died in 1976 and is buried in White Oak Cemetery on Lower Moncure Road, much of which has been engulfed by nearby woods. Over the years, the exact location of Council’s grave has apparently been lost, but Holly said that another friend involved in the project, area musician Guy Unger, had been in touch with Council’s son, who said he has a relatively good idea of where the burial took place.
“We thought, if we can find the grave site and put a marker there, that would be great,” said Holly, who grew up listening to Delta blues on family trips to Mississippi. “But we are also looking at raising money for some kind of marker, which we could maybe put at Depot Park or somewhere that the public can see it. The mere fact that there was a group in England, listening to his music in the 1960s, to me, that’s historically significant by itself.”
This isn’t the first time an organization has looked into providing a permanent marker for Council. A 2012 Youtube video from an organization called the Floyd Council Memorial Headstone Project is available to watch online, much of which was shot in Sanford. Holly said that that project apparently fizzled out over time, but he hoped that a Sanford-based organization might be better equipped to find Council’s final resting place and tell his story both here and elsewhere.
He envisions concerts at Depot Park as a way to raise funds necessary for a cemetery marker and some other kind of monument downtown which the public – including fans of both the blues and Pink Floyd – can visit to learn more about the bluesman and his impact on four British guys in the 1960s. But first, he plans to meet with Council’s son to locate the grave. From there, the best way to honor Council is still up in the air.
But if all goes his way, Sanford, North Carolina will be known as the place where they put Floyd Council to rest. That would be pretty cool.
Holly said he welcomes contact from anyone who wants to help get the organization off the ground. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Listen to a couple of Floyd Council’s songs below: