Although some may say that Dark Side of the Moon was their greatest achievement, it’s hard to ignore the impact and the dark brooding beauty of Pink Floyd’s double album “The Wall”, released today in 1979.
Bassist Roger Waters conceived The Wall during Pink Floyd's 1977 In the Flesh tour, modelling the character of Pink after himself and Pink Floyd's former frontman, Syd Barrett.
In 1977, Pink Floyd played the In the Flesh tour. Roger Waters despised the experience, feeling the audience was not listening and that many were too far away to see the band. He said: "It became a social event rather than a more controlled and ordinary relationship between musicians and an audience. On 6 July 1977, the final date at the Montreal Olympic Stadium, a group of noisy and excited fans near the stage irritated Waters so much that he spat on one of them.
As a result, David Gilmour refused to perform a final encore and sat at the soundboard, leaving the band, with backup guitarist Snowy White, to improvise a slow, sad 12-bar blues, which Waters announced to the audience as "some music to go home to".
That night, Waters spoke with producer Bob Ezrin and Ezrin's psychiatrist friend about the alienation and despair he was experiencing. He articulated his desire to isolate himself by constructing a wall across the stage between the band and the audience.
The Wall was the vehicle whereby Waters created a fictional character, Pink, to tell a story based on his childhood, his relationships with his mother, women, the recording industry, the fans, the indulgences and pitfalls of fame.
The Wall was also the last album to feature Pink Floyd as a quartet. Keyboardist Richard Wright was fired by Waters during production but stayed on as a salaried musician, an act that drove a further wedge between Waters and Gilmour.
I think things like 'Comfortably Numb' were the last embers of mine and Roger's ability to work collaboratively together.
Gilmour said at the time of the album's release:
"Reviews were mixed but perhaps Melody Maker said it best by stating "I'm not sure whether it's brilliant or terrible, but I find it utterly compelling."
However, the fans loved it, going to #1 worldwide including here in NZ, where the album achieved 14 x platinum sales.
Here is a rarity and a disjointed one at that, Pink Floyd performing The Wall at Earls Court in 1980.