A Roger Waters Biography

Collected from the net, a few books, and hearsay

George Roger Waters was born on September 6, 1943. He was born in Great Bookham, in Surrey, which is near a town called Dorking, about twenty miles south of London. Many of his songs are about the Second World War, in which his father, Eric Fletcher Waters (to whom The Final Cut was dedicated) died during the British invasion of Anzio, Italy. Waters describes his childhood in this Musician Magazine, 1992 interview.

Roger Waters started playing on "The Abdabs" (1965). The Abdabs mostly played rhythm and blues songs. Juliette later married Wright, and she, Noble, and Metcalf all quit the band. Waters then brought in Bob Close and Syd Barrett for guitars, then later Close left, leaving the original recorded Pink Floyd lineup. In late '65, they became "The Pink Floyd Sound," then just "The Pink Floyd." The name Pink Floyd came from albums by two blues artists, Pink Anderson and Floyd Council, that were in Syd Barrett's collection. It had often been said that using the name came to Syd in a vision.

The Floyd began to attract attention in mid-1966, frequently playing such underground hangouts as The UFO Club and The Marquee Club's Spontaneous Underground. It was during this time that they made the transition from playing psychedelic R&B covers to doing their own songs; almost exclusively Syd Barrett compositions. As Floyd biographer Miles has said about this period, "The Floyd were the loudest band anyone had ever heard at that time. They were also the weirdest. They were the underground band."

The Floyd's growing underground popularity led to a single, "Arnold Layne," released in March of 1967. It entered the British charts at #20, resulting in national media exposure for the band. Their followup single, "See Emily Play," stayed on the charts for 7 weeks, reaching #6. The Pink Floyd's first LP, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, also remained on the charts for 7 weeks, and also reached #6.

The success that followed their first two singles and Piper proved to be too much for Syd, as the vast quantities of drugs he was taking in, the blind worship of his fans, and other factors all made him unpredictable on stage and in the studio. The other members of the group decided to bring in an additional guitarist to cover for Syd, and thus David Gilmour was asked to join the band.

With the addition of Gilmour and Syd's declining state, it was shortly decided that the band could carry on without him, and so one night they simply didn't pick him up on the way to a show.

Pink Floyd went on recording, releasing A Saucerful Of Secrets, Ummagumma, Atom Heart Mother, and doing a few sountracks. It was during this time that they began to show the talent that would lead to the creating of DSOTM. Meddle was in a way a precursor to DSOTM and included a full side-long track called 'Echoes.' Pink Floyd began playing portions of Dark Side Of The Moon before it's release in late '72 and early '73. Dark Side of The Moon, of course, went on to be a phenomenal success and still remains a fairly high selling album (it would still be on the Billboard top 200 if the rules allowed it).

Following the incredible success of Dark Side Of The Moon, Pink Floyd found themselves in a difficult position. They had achieved the goal of every rock group, but now they were left adrift. At this time they began experimenting with everyday objects music. That is, all the music was to be played with everyday objects such as bottles, washing boards, etc... After some experimentation with this, the band scrapped the idea and began work on what was to be Wish You Were Here.

At this time Roger noted that during the sessions, the band didn't really seem to be there. In a way that is what Wish You Were Here is referring to. There are also some rather obvious jabs at the music industry. Wish You Were Here was released on September 15, 1975, but the band didn't tour immediately.

When the band did tour in early '77 their set consisted of WYWH as well as two constantly evolving songs from what was to be Animals. They released Animals on January 23, 1977. During this 'In the Flesh' tour, Roger Waters received his impetus for the creation of The Wall. The pure greed of doing stadium shows sickened him. The last show of this tour was when Roger actually spat on a fan in contempt.

Following the 'In The Flesh' tour, Roger and the band took a break of sorts. It was during this time that Roger wrote both The Wall and The Pros And Cons Of Hitch Hiking. He brought both to the rest of the band and informed them that he wanted to do one with the band and do the other as a solo project. The band rejected 'Pros and Cons' as being too personal and they began work on The Wall.

The Wall was recorded in about a year with Bob Ezrin constantly mediating and creating disputes with Roger Waters. The end result was a masterpiece by most accounts. The following tour of The Wall was found to be too expensive to do in many cities, so several cities were chosen as sites for several shows (the US had shows in New York and Los Angeles). These shows are considered by many Pink Floyd fans who attended to be the best concerts ever put on by Pink Floyd.

Following the tour of The Wall, Waters went to work on his next work, The Final Cut. This album served as a vent for Roger's anger about the death of his father. The rest of the band wasn't really involved in its production. It has been stated that the rest of the band considered the album to be a bunch of discards from The Wall. Dave Gilmour only sings on one song ('Not Now John'). This non-contribution of the other members of Pink Floyd extends to most of the musical background as well. This is probably the reason why TFC doesn't sound much like any other PF album. During the recording of TFC it became pretty obvious that the band could not produce together anymore.

In 1983, following The Final Cut, Roger Waters unofficially left Pink Floyd in order to pursue a solo career (Incidently David Gilmour attempted a solo career at that time as well). Waters released The Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking (which had been rejected as a possible Pink Floyd album) on May 8, 1984 and immediately followed it with a tour. This tour didn't do near as well as Waters had anticipated and so many tour dates were cancelled. A full description of the show can be found in the 'Pros and Cons' section.

In mid-85, he decided to terminate his personal management deal with Steve O'Rourke, who was pressuring him to make another Floyd album. He left the group officially, thinking it was dead -- or at least, that it certainly wouldn't / couldn't produce without him. Obviously he was wrong on whether they would/could produce without him. An extremely pro-Roger article was written at the time by Penthouse Magazine. Just about this time, Roger was finishing up his work on the music for the film "When the Wind Blows" and was finishing up his second solo album.

Radio K.A.O.S., released on July 15, 1987, was his next album and dealt with a typically Roger type topic...soap opera politics. This album was a departure from the normal music that Waters usually produced in that it had a lot of synthesizers and sampling. Roger has stated that he made some mistakes on this album and was pushed into things that he would, on hindsight, have stayed away from. The album was again followed by a tour which had troubles selling out gigs. A transcript of the concert can be found in the Radio Kaos section.

Although Waters had stated that he wasn't interested in doing any more stadium shows, he 'changed' his mind when the Berlin Wall came down. The Wall - Live in Berlin was to be a celebration of freedom as well as a sort of coming out party for Waters. Many well-known artists decided to work with Waters on the concert and the concert was broadcast live on July 21, 1990. From eye witness accounts as well as from those who were lucky (or unlucky) enough to see the live version, the concert was a jumble of errors. The low-lights being a span of silence early in the show and the infamous Sinead O'Connor rendition of 'Mother.' The concert was immediately (directly following the show) gone over by the artists involved in the concert and particularly bad portions were dubbed over or taken from rehersals. Proceeds from the album as well as the video have gone to 'The Memorial Fund for Disaster Relief.'

Fans had a fairly short wait for the Roger's next album, Amused to Death. Amused to Death was released on September 1, 1992 and was immediately touted by Roger as being on par with The Wall and Dark Side of the Moon. Although the album didn't sell as well as anticipated and received mixed reviews, Sony must have agreed with him as they produced the album in a gold format. Waters stated that if the album sold well (3 to 4 million US sales) then he would tour. Unfortunately, only a few stations broadcast his first single 'What God Wants' and the second single 'Three Wishes' was scrapped by the record company to 'cut their losses.' This lack of publicity cut into album sales and so Roger didn't grace us with his presence. All in all, I find this album to be his best musically and lyrically since leaving Pink Floyd and I would highly recommend its purchase.


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