Why Roger Waters decided to leave Pink Floyd

Sujan Tamang 

Along with Richard Wright, Nick Mason, Syd Barrett, and bassist Roger Waters, Pink Floyd was founded in 1965. They went on to become one of the forerunners of Progressive Rock in the years that followed, and after David Gilmour joined the group, things began to shift and their songwriting improved. Their peak was marked by the 1973 release of “Dark Side of the Moon,” which went on to become one of the all-time best-selling albums. Other well-received and popular albums including “Wish You Were Here” (1975), “Animals” (1977), and “The Wall” (1979) followed that success.

Waters took over as the band’s primary songwriter during those years, which is when the disputes began. He felt that “he was” Pink Floyd and didn’t need the other, as his fellow band members later stated. Suggested that Richard Wright, the band’s keyboardist, should leave the group midway through “The Wall,” was one of the first major changes. After being dismissed from the group, he went on tour the next year as a hired musician.

The next album, “The Final Cut,” was the last Pink Floyd record to feature Roger Waters and only featured Mason, Gilmour, and Waters. However, why did he choose to quit the band?

The reason why Roger Waters decided to leave Pink Floyd

In the late 1970s, Roger Waters began to feel that the other band members particularly Richard Wright were becoming less and less dedicated to composition, which allowed him to take on an even more prominent role as the band’s primary songwriter. However, Nick, David, and Richard thought that Waters’ inflated ego made him think that “he was” Pink Floyd and that they weren’t necessary to write for.

Due to the different takes on the situation, things initially progressed to the point where Richard Wright left the band, and the conclusion was strangely revealed in “The Final Cut.” The title was a clear indication of what would happen, even though they were unaware that it would be Waters’ last album. While Waters wrote practically all of the songs on “The Wall,” David Gilmour and Bob Ezrin also contributed a few songs, something that wasn’t the case with “The Final Cut.” Since he authored every word, even Waters acknowledged after the fact that it might be regarded as his debut solo studio album.

He thought that Pink Floyd was no longer writing together sufficiently to be regarded as a true band or team, which is why he departed the group. However, his other musicians believed that the contrary was true. They thought that Roger was genuinely attempting to handle everything on his own as he felt more capable and didn’t require their assistance.


Waters said that final Pink Floyd album was really “Wish You Were Here”

In 1992, Roger Waters discussed his conflict with his bandmates in an interview with Musician magazine. Additionally, he stated that “Wish You Were Here” (1975) was, in his opinion, the last Pink Floyd album. primarily due to the other musicians’ underwhelming songwriter contributions to the subsequent releases.

“When Rick was expelled in 1979, I said, the band dynamic changed. A rock quartet losing its keyboardist leaves a very crucial element of its sound to an outsider, like a session player. That alone is a real indication that you were effectively disbanding the group even then.”

“I think you could say that ‘Wish You Were Here’ was written, partially specifically about Syd. But largely about my sense of the absence of one from another, and from the band. So as far as I’m concerned, ‘Wish You Were Here’ was the last Pink Floyd album. ‘The Wall’ was my record and so was ‘The Final Cut’. Who played or didn’t play on it – though I don’t want to belittle Dave’s contributions to ‘The Wall’.”

He added, “He played some great stuff, and wrote a couple of great guitar riffs as well. ‘Run Like Hell,’ the intro to ‘Young Lust.’ But by and large, those records were nothing to do with anybody but me. And certainly Ezrin’s contribution to ‘The Wall’ was far greater than anybody in the band. He and I made the record together. And he was a great help.”

“You know, Rick had drifted out of range by that point. (…) You know, Rick had left “long” before the summer of ’79 – “long”, long before. He was “gone”. We split up years before. And it wasn’t the unilateral and heinous, wicked thing that gets described in the “unofficial” histories.”

At the time, Waters thought that because David Gilmour hadn’t composed many songs, Pink Floyd was effectively done once he left. He was always better at writing music, and Nick Mason was no exception. But even without Roger, the other two musicians made the decision to continue with Pink Floyd. There was a massive lawsuit as a result, which was ultimately settled out of court. They could keep using the name, and they even extended an invitation to Richard Wright to return.

David Gilmour said it was like torture to make the final album with Roger Waters

Given that Waters completed the “Final Cut” almost entirely on his own, it wasn’t easy for his relationship with Gilmour and Mason. The guitarist claimed to the BBC in 1994 that he felt tortured while the album was being recorded. Their relationship was strained, and Waters desired to record songs that had already been discarded during the creation of “The Wall.”

David said, ” It was torture to me. We really were not getting on at all well. I felt like Roger was resurrecting tracks that we had not accepted for ‘The Wall’ album. I did say ‘They weren’t good enough then. Why they are good enough now?’ It got so difficult that Roger wanted me to not have a say in what was going on, on the production side of the album. So after a lot of arguing and soul searching, I agreed to come off the production credits.”

During those sessions, Nick Mason, the drummer, wasn’t feeling happy either. He stated, “It was dreadful, really. It’s not the way a band should make records and I think we all thought that. Roger certainly thought it, because he left the band shortly afterwards.”

In the end, it did not achieve the same level of commercial success as the albums released after “Dark Side of the Moon.” Only an estimated 3 million or more copies were sold worldwide.

He believes bands are not meant to stay together forever

According to Roger, bands are just collections of people and are not supposed to last forever, as he stated to Hot Press in 2010. Thus, it is rare that you will remain married to the same person for the entirety of your life or that you will have the same friends for eternity.

Roger said, “I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Bands are like other groups of people. They have a life. They have a half-life or whatever it is and then it’s over. When Pink Floyd was over, it was over. People keep raking over the coals of it and people miss it. That’s absolutely fine, I don’t mind that at all, but I was there.”

“I know the reasons why we broke up were very real. They were very right and it was the correct thing to do. I have no regrets about leaving. Even on that cold night when I was playing to those 1500 people in Cincinnati. Absolutely no regrets.”

Waters has been involved in numerous projects and released four studio albums since leaving the group in 1985. Rewriting the band’s iconic album “Dark Side of the Moon” was the most recent. Pink Floyd and Waters have only ever come together once, at Live 8 in 2005.


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