When I wrote about some frustrations I was having in 2001 in regard to the Rock band, Pink Floyd, I never expected the resulting essay, The Theft of Pink Floyd, to be a work that would be referenced by people across the Internet. But as it turned out, I wasn’t the only one who was frustrated by the rather bizarre misinformation campaign that was waged by David Gilmour and Nick Mason during much of the 1990’s. The essence of this campaign was that they rarely missed an opportunity to take a shot at Roger Waters, and constantly implied that Waters’ contributions to the band had been over-stated.
Since Gilmour was touring the world with his merry band of studio musicians, pretending there was still a Pink Floyd (and making millions of dollars doing it), while Roger Waters largely remained out of the limelight, this misinformation held a lot of weight for some people. After all, they were only hearing one side of the story, Roger Waters was noodling around with music that sounded only peripherally like the work he did with Pink Floyd (to little commercial notice), and everywhere you went there was a Pink Floyd spectacle coming to town or another live album being released that re-visited the buffet of Roger Waters’ earlier work. The people were getting what they wanted from the Pink Floyd brand, and no one seemed to care which one was Pink.
I felt like a lone voice in the wilderness. Sure, there were other people like me who had grown up with Pink Floyd and knew who did what, but the masses thought of Roger Waters mostly as Pink Floyd’s ex-bassist. Most people thought of him as something of a backing musician. After all, David Gilmour, who was largely the voice people associated with Pink Floyd, was still out there running around with the Floyd banner, and Nick Mason and Richard Wright were chugging right along with him, happily playing the roll of band members while being paid salaried wages. It was under that climate that I wrote the essay – The Theft Of Pink Floyd.
A lot has changed since then. Roger Waters’ successful tours, starting in 2000, brought to the forefront just who was Pink in the end. Roger Waters and a bunch of studio musicians sounded more like Pink Floyd than Gilmour, Mason and Wright. And Waters played to enough people all over the world throughout the first decade of the 21st Century that it became increasingly harder to peddle the lies about Roger Waters’ contributions. Add to that the fact that David Gilmour largely decided to put his dog and pony show in storage, and the issue was largely settled. You’ll still meet the occasional pocket of ignorance. But they’re becoming fewer and farther between.
The sad truth is that Roger Waters and David Gilmour were better together than either of them have been separately. But I’ll take Waters’ Amused to Death over Gilmour’s Momentary Lapse of Reason or The Division Bell any day. But I eagerly admit that I like Gilmour’s solo music much better now that he’s not trying to pawn it off as Pink Floyd (On An Island sounds like the work of an artist, not the calculation of a businessman). Now if Roger Waters would just release that damned solo album he’s been working on since the mid 1990’s, we could all put this question to rest once and for all.
- Essay: The Theft Of Pink Floyd