Pink Floyd: Goodbye Blue Sky
The Wall tour was Pink Floyd’s biggest spectacular yet, requiring 45 tons of equipment, 106 decibels of quadraphonic sound, a bomber plane, infl atable props, monstrous puppets designed by Gerald Scarfe, a fake Pink Floyd band in masks and 340 large bricks that were erected (via concealed hydraulic lifts) into a 160-by-35-foot wall.
EZRIN We had rough-mixed everything in France and pulled it together in sequence. We had a model of the stage and teeny rubber men and mock inflatables, and we played the record while “playing” the show on the tabletop. So the first time the band heard The Wall was a complete audio-visual experience. We were not just making an album—we were also building the stage show from the script. Roger and I would start the day at Gerald Scarfe’s house looking at animation, and then we would talk to Mark Fisher, architect-designer extraordinaire, about the stage design. We spent a lot of time weighing the bricks and making sure if they fell over no one would get killed.
SCARFE When Roger had written The Wall, he came to me and played the raw tapes and said he wanted to make an album, a show and a film. First of all, I had to decide what Pink would look like. I saw him as this embryonic little prawn-like figure who was completely vulnerable, because a lot of The Wall is about how we hide behind a wall because we don’t want people to hurt us. The wife I made like a serpent that would strike and sting. The teacher was based vaguely on a teacher I’d known myself. The mother was an old-fashioned Fifties comforting type with these very strong arms that turned into walls. The hammer characters came from me looking for a very cruel, unthinking image—something intractable that couldn’t be stopped. And then the idea of them goose-stepping came from that. It had humor to it in some parts, but it was pretty bleak.
WRIGHT As I saw it, Roger’s original concept for the show was literally to build a wall, go home and leave the audience pissed off. But once the wall was built and the visual stuff was put on it and the holes opened up so that the band members could be seen, it became a very good theatrical device.
GILMOUR The shows were terrific. As they went along, I became more aware of the restrictions of something that was so choreographed—there was not really much room for letting the music go away into its own thing. But you have to look at it as a different thing. It’s as much a theatrical piece as it is a musical piece.
MASON The drums were in an armored cage, so when the wall collapsed it wouldn’t destroy them. It was a curious, rather nice environment. Not much spontaneity, but we’re not well known for our duck walking and gyrating about onstage.
WRIGHT Why did I agree to play? Maybe I couldn’t actually handle the idea of just standing in the room and saying, “Right, that’s it, bye-bye.” I thought, If I’m going to leave at least I know I’ve got another month or so to carry on working, even possibly with the hope in the back of my mind that things might change. On the live performances Roger was being reasonably friendly. It was difficult, but I tried to forget all my grudges, and I enjoyed playing The Wall. I put everything I could into the performances. It wasn’t too bad at all.
MASON Of course it was. But the British are bloody good at that, just getting on with something in spite of the fact that they’re absolutely seething.
WATERS It was fait accompli. Rick was being paid a wage, he seemed happy with that, we were happy with that, and that was the end of it. Or maybe he wasn’t happy… Backstage it was all pretty separatist: separate trailers, none facing each other. The atmosphere was awful.
WRIGHT Bands can go onstage and perform even if they hate each other. It was a band that I felt was falling to pieces Which of course it did.
EZRIN I was asked to be involved with the show and I couldn’t—I was going through a divorce. That and another incident—where in my naïvety I took a phone call from a friend who happened to be a journalist and broke my nondisclosure with the band when he teased information out of me—so upset Roger. That was it. I was banned from backstage. I went anyway. New York was my territory, all the security at the venue knew me from Kiss and Alice Cooper. When Pink Floyd security said, “He can’t come in,” they said, “Like hell he can’t!” I had to buy my ticket, but I saw the show. It was flawless and utterly overwhelming. In “Comfortably Numb,” when Dave played his solo from the top of the wall, I broke down in tears. It was the embodiment of the entire experience. In the final analysis it produced what is arguably the best work of that decade. Maybe one of the most important rock albums ever.
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