It’s well documented that Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters and David Gilmour have always shared a somewhat dysfunctional partnership. Waters, throughout his time in the music industry, has often been slightly hesitant towards the idea of collaboration and would much rather be the captain of his own ship. He still shares a special bond today with drummer Nick Mason — even though the former Floyd de-facto leader almost accidentally killed his dear friend.
Pink Floyd first formed in 1965 after a chance meeting in a car with Roger Waters and Richard Wright brought the band together. While the band undoubtedly went on to receive unparalleled success, things could have quite easily turned out very differently if drummer Mason couldn’t drive. Waters used to scrounge lifts from the drummer when they studied architecture together at Regent Street Polytechnic. The two of them have been thick as thieves for over 50-years and their friendship never completely soured, even though they did drift for some years before rekindling their brotherhood.
The two men last performed together in 2019, a time when Waters made a surprise appearance with Mason’s Saucerful of Secrets at New York’s Beacon Theatre. He joined the band for a joyous performance of ‘Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun’ and even told the audience: “Loving the show, by the way, Nick. My considered opinion is that you sounded a lot better than we did back in the day.”
“I really enjoyed it, and obviously I love Nick,” said Waters in an interview after the show with Rolling Stone. “He’s a very old friend, and luckily all those bridges have been rebuilt. We see each other often, and I adore him. The atmosphere that night was wonderful, and I couldn’t have been happier than to be allowed to share the stage and sing one of my songs with that band.”
During an interview in 2015, he was asked about an upcoming Q&A that he and Nick had in the works, then divulged a bizarre story about how he nearly caused Mason’s death back during their Pink Floyd days. “It’ll be great if we can stop giggling for long enough to answer any of the questions because we have a long history Nick and of giggling a lot, unfortunately, or fortunately. I nearly killed him once when we were young,” Waters says out of nowhere.
“We were rehearsing, so the band must have already been going. I remember we were at a rehearsal, and we used to try to create situations that were dangerous for each other. We were doing something, and somebody had just served us some really hot cups of tea. So I waited until he got halfway through a gulp of tea, and I don’t know why this triggered him, but I just said the word ‘Yacht’ in the middle of this big gulp, and it got him. He just exploded.
“These two rivers of scolding tea came out of his nose like that as he burst out,” he says whilst animatedly reconstructing the incident with his hands. “I mean he was in agony, I thought, ‘Oh God, I’ve killed him’. I couldn’t help him because I was laughing too much, but he eventually recovered. If you ever meet him, you should ask him, ‘Roger says he nearly killed you one day’ and he’ll go, ‘Yeah, he did’. Yacht was the keyword,” he added whilst still laughing profusely.
Waters’ face is as elated as you’ve ever seen him as he recounts this tale, and the friendship that he shares with Mason isn’t discussed enough. Although the two of them can now look back and reminisce on the times they shared together, it is a shame that not all of the band will ever get back on the same page. Mason is a peacekeeper of sorts, who both sides of the Pink Floyd civil war hold in the highest regard, and thankfully he wasn’t killed by a scolding cup of tea as his role in the band truly can’t be underappreciated.