In 1962, Neil Sedaka sang that breaking up is hard to do, and he’s right. It’s not easy. It’s difficult to walk out on someone you deeply love, just as it is difficult to move independently from a circle that has proven the backbone of life together. And although a band breakup might not seem as difficult as splitting up from a romantic partner, it’s not a decision any of them would ever take lightly. Look at Kevin Godley, who still has difficulty talking about the dissolution of Godley & Creme; look at Rick Buckler, who still has his issues with The Jam’s Paul Weller; and look at Paul McCartney, who has never recovered from the breakup of The Beatles.
This brings us onto Roger Waters and David Gilmour, the two men who fronted Pink Floyd from 1968 until Waters’ departure in 1985. The bassist had acted as musical director and primary songwriter for the band from 1973 until 1982, when he declared the band a “spent force”. From that point, the bassist has been vocal of his disapproval in the band’s determination to bring the work into the world at large. Gilmour rebooted Pink Floyd in 1987 with drummer Nick Mason, delving into more angular, instrumental venues.
The rebooted Pink Floyd released a trilogy of albums between 1987 to 2012: A Momentary Lapse of Reason, The Division Bell and The Final Cut.
Waters released a series of blinding solo albums, creating a more focused orbit based on his perspective. The bassist worked with Van Morrison, Sinead O Connor and Rick Danko when he re-produced The Wall,set on the back of the Berlin Wall.
Gilmour felt unimpressed, thinking that the reasons weren’t “charitable”, but helped Waters recalibrate his sense of celebrity and character in a world that was rapidly changing. From that point, the barbs got nastier. Waters felt Gilmour lacked vision, Gilmour criticised Waters lack of musical prowess, and fans of the band were understandably upset to see these two musicians fight one another in public.
In 2005, Gilmour decided to embrace a detente when he invited Waters to join Pink Floyd at Live 8, giving the musician permission to sing the second half of ‘Wish You Were Here’. But Gilmour made it clear that he had no intentions of working with Waters again in the studio, focusing instead on his solo projects.
Since then, Waters and Gilmour have continued working on their solo careers, but it doesn’t sound like the wounds have healed. Judging by the below video, Waters and Gilmour can barely conceal their discomfort in front of the cameras, but they are good enough to put their differences aside in the name of the press.
They might not like hanging out with each other, but you won’t hear Waters stating that Gilmour doesn’t know how to write, or you won’t hear Gilmour claiming he recorded the majority of the bass on Pink Floyd’s work. So, that’s progress, and things can only get better from there.