The Theft Of Pink Floyd (essay)

Pink FloydWhen 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.

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About Wicasta

Depending upon whom you ask, Wicasta Lovelace is an author, musician, artist, web designer and/or delusional lunatic (which one he is at any given moment depends upon the day of the week, really). He's currently studying Music Industry/Recording Arts at St. Petersburg College in Saint Petersburg, Florida. Wicasta is working on several novels and recording music on his own and with his band, Windhaven. He is the principle editor of the Malleus Maleficarum project, lead author at PaganCentric, curator at Mama Peggy, and systems engineer at Floozees Doozees. You can find him on Google+, Twitter and Facebook.
  • pboss

    Did he not write “Dark Side of the Moon? Waters was the fng genius of this band. Anybody who knows ANYTHING about Pink Floyd knows that….regardless of personalities.

  • Well, that’s true. Waters would lose several of his best Pink Floyd songs if he didn’t play anything that had David Gilmour’s name beside his on the credits. But there’s still plenty of songs in the Pink Floyd catalog that credit only “R. Waters” (most of The Wall, Animals and The Final Cut).There are very few songs in the Pink Floyd catalog that list only “D. Gilmour”. It’d make for a short set, indeed, if those were the only Pink Floyd songs Gilmour performed.

    As for the Bush and Obama stuff, I have no idea what you’re talking about. But maybe you’re right about the preaching. After all, who needs all that intellectual claptrap in their music? Who cares for social commentary? It’s not like Pink Floyd with Roger Waters was known for its depth… oh, wait… 😉

  • Trevor Rabin

    In that case, Waters should not perform songs that Gilmour was composing too. I know that you anti-bush peoples looove Waters because his preaching, but if he can’t say anything bad about Obama, why preach at all? You Waters fans think that he is the “father earth”, still AMEX card owners will get better places on his forthcoming The Wall shows….peace and love, peace and love….

  • Since you commented here, and not on the essay itself, I have to assume that you didn’t read the essay at all. I think the contention that Roger Waters is a megalomaniac is indisputable (though I think he’s mellowed with age). But that’s beside the point. If Gilmour and company were prohibited from performing works with Waters’ name on it, that would leave them with about five songs between them from the Waters era catalog (and a bunch of Syd’s songs), though they could certainly perform a bunch of tunes from Momentary Lapse of Reason and Division Bell (if Bob Ezrin and Polly Samson didn’t object).

    I actually don’t feel this is as much of an issue as it used to be. Gilmour, Mason and Waters have settled into an uneasy truce, there’s no Pink Fraud roaming the countryside raking in the millions, and Waters is now being afforded the credit he deserves. I don’t think anyone has ever contended that David Gilmour didn’t contribute to Pink Floyd. He was an integral part of what made Pink Floyd what it was. What offended me through the years was that he contended so passionately that Roger Waters was essentially little more than an uppity bass player that the rest of them tolerated. Anyone who believes that is a moron.

    All I can suggest is that if you hate Roger Waters so much, don’t buy any Pink Floyd albums with songs that credit only “R. Waters”. Problem solved.

    I’ll close with a quote by David Gilmour from 1978, that leads off the essay (that you apparently didn’t read): “Roger comes up with the concepts — he’s the preacher of the group and spends more time home writing with Pink Floyd in mind. We get along fine. I know what I give to our sound, and he knows it, too. It’s not a question of him forcing his ideas on us. I get my ideas across as much as I want to. They would use more of my music if I wrote it.”

  • Trevor Rabin

    You Waters fans are so full of shit. You know that Roger Waters is megalomaniac asshole. Have a fun with untalented hack Waters. Lyrics my ass.