Pink Floyd have been in the news quite a bit lately, though not for entirely good reasons.
Since his acrimonious departure from Pink Floyd almost 40 years ago, Roger Waters’ relationship with Floyd’s lead singer and electric guitar player, David Gilmour, has been – even at the best of times – fairly icy.
Indeed, in 2023, the pair’s public squabbling has taken a particularly nasty, and personal, turn. Before this, even, there was the pair’s public spat in 2021 over the the remastered edition of Pink Floyd’s 1977 album, Animals, which was – according to Waters – held up by Gilmour for featuring liner notes that centered too much on the band’s former bass guitar player and principal songwriter.
Let’s look back on the better times then, shall we?
In 2005, at the behest of Bob Geldof (opens in new tab), the band’s classic lineup – Gilmour, Waters, Rick Wright on keyboards and Nick Mason on drums – got together for what turned out to be their final performance, a triumphant, 20-minute headlining slot at the worldwide Live 8 festival.
Though brief, the performance would play host to a stunning, set-closing version of Comfortably Numb, which marked the final time Gilmour would use his iconic black Stratocaster – an instrument that would later sell for $3.98 million, making it, at the time, the most valuable guitar ever sold at auction – onstage with Pink Floyd.
Along with Comfortably Numb, the band performed (opens in new tab) Breathe, Money and Wish You Were Here. The re-constituted group didn’t arrive at even that brief setlist, however, without some internal bickering.
“We made suggestions [for the Live 8 setlist] and Roger made suggestions, and I didn’t care for Roger’s suggestions,” Gilmour told Guitar Player in a 2021 interview (opens in new tab). “In the end, I thought, ‘Actually, we’re Pink Floyd and he’s our guest, and he can just do what we tell him to do or fuck off.'”
Waters, Gilmour explained (opens in new tab), wanted the band to play a set heavy on tracks from The Wall, like Another Brick in the Wall and In the Flesh, along with Money, but was overruled on the former two.
For Wish You Were Here, Gilmour used a 1985 Gibson J-200 Celebrity acoustic guitar that was originally owned (opens in new tab) by Dire Straits’ John Illsley, sold to Gilmour in 1994 – ahead of Pink Floyd’s Division Bell tour – then subsequently auctioned off in 2019 (along with the Black Strat) as part of the record-shattering auction of much of the Pink Floyd legend’s guitar collection for charity.
The ornate acoustic has since been listed on Reverb.com, where today it can be acquired for a mere $357,500 (opens in new tab).
Inevitably, Pink Floyd’s Live 8 set generated quite a bit of buzz about a permanent reunion of the band’s classic lineup – a fantasy that never came to pass, and was permanently scuttled by Rick Wright’s death in 2008 due to lung cancer.
Gilmour, for his part, has repeatedly and firmly dismissed the possibility, telling Louder in a 2022 oral history of the Live 8 performance (opens in new tab), “The rehearsals convinced me it [playing with Pink Floyd] wasn’t something I wanted to be doing a lot of.”
It is worth noting, though, that Live 8 didn’t mark the final time Gilmour used the Black Strat live with Roger Waters.
On May 12, 2011 (opens in new tab), Gilmour made a special onstage cameo at one of Waters’ solo performances of The Wall, assisting his one-time bandmate – Black Strat in hand – with a stirring (and much-appreciated) rendition of Comfortably Numb.
He and Floyd drummer Nick Mason – on mandolin and tambourine, respectively – would also join Waters later that night (opens in new tab) for a set-closing Outside the Wall, marking the last time to date the three surviving members of Pink Floyd have performed together in any capacity.
Gilmour and Mason have revived the Pink Floyd name for two Waters-less studio projects in recent years – The Endless River, a 2014 album culled from recordings the duo made with Wright in the mid-’90s, and Hey Hey Rise Up, a new song the duo recorded and released in the wake of the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Just don’t expect any more live performances.
“I’m done with it,” Gilmour said of Pink Floyd’s live career in a 2021 Guitar Player interview (opens in new tab). “I’ve had a life in Pink Floyd for quite a lot of years, and quite a few of those years at the beginning, with Roger. And those years in what is now considered to be our heyday were 95 percent musically fulfilling and joyous and full of fun and laughter.
“I certainly don’t want to let the other five percent color my view of what was a long and fantastic time together. But it has run its course, we are done, and it would be fakery to go back and do it again. And to do it without Rick [Wright] would just be wrong.
“I’m all for Roger doing whatever he wants to do and enjoying himself and getting the joy he must have had out of those Wall shows,” he continued. “I’m at peace with all of these things. But I absolutely don’t want to go back. I don’t want to go and play stadiums. I’m free to do exactly what I want to do and how I want to do it.”
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