On numerous occasions, Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters has spoken at length about John Lennon’s influence on him as a songwriter. However, things didn’t go to plan when they first met, and Waters was left disappointed by their frosty encounter.
Waters meticulously studied The Beatles during his formative years, and the Liverpudlian band taught him the basic rudimentary rules of songwriting. The Fab Four provided the Pink Floyd man with a foundation of knowledge which helped him immeasurably, but, more notably, the Beatles also taught Waters a valuable lesson about artistic expression.
He once explained: “I learned from John Lennon and Paul McCartney and George Harrison that it was okay for us to write about our lives, and what we felt — and to express ourselves… That we could be free artists and that there was a value in that freedom. And there was.”
Additionally, Waters named Lennon and McCartney among his favourite songwriters of all time in 2015. “There are certain groups whose names you can just pluck out of the air, and songwriters. Like you can say John Lennon is an important songwriter, as is Paul McCartney,” he commented.
Unfortunately, his path only crossed once with Lennon during the Beatle’s tragically short life. According to Waters, the pair were working respectively in Abbey Road at the time, and regrettably, both of them were on “snotty” behaviour.
Speaking on Marc Maron’s WTF podcast, Waters reflected on their encounter. He explained: “Piper at the Gates of Dawn, we were doing that in number three studio at Abbey Road, and The Beatles were doing Sgt. Peppers in number two, and I made records in number two later, we made stuff in there as well.”
He continued: “I only met John Lennon once, to my huge regret, and that was in the control room number two, and he was a bit of a… He was quite snotty, so was I.”
Pink Floyd were relatively unknown at the time and had yet to release their debut album, which perhaps explains Lennon’s lack of warmth towards the group. However, his behaviour didn’t stop Waters from loving The Beatles and Sgt. Pepper’s remains one of the most important records of his life. “I remember when Sgt. Pepper came out, pulling the car over into a lay by, and we sat there and listened to it,” Waters told KLCS. “Somebody played the whole thing on the radio. And I can remember sitting in this old, beat up Zephyr Four, like that [sits for a long period, completely agape].”
This meeting between Waters and Lennon is precisely proof of why people say you shouldn’t meet your heroes. Although, the Pink Floyd bassist did admit the fault wasn’t solely with the Beatle, and he was equally culpable for creating the awkward atmosphere.