Pink Floyd: Goodbye Blue Sky
The atmosphere during the recording ranged from mildly tense to brutally confrontational. The breaking point came when Rick Wright was fired.
EZRIN There was tension between the band members, even tension between the wives of the band members. There was a period in France where it was very hostile, that passive-aggressive English-style conflict.
MASON Bob probably sees it as war because he was under attack. He was going through what can only be described as an “unreliable” phase of his life. He was staying down in Nice, we were all up in the hills, and he’d drive down there when he finished work—and I suspect have a wild time—and then be astonished when we were pissed off when he’d arrive back the next morning late.
EZRIN During that period I went a little bit mad and really dreaded going in, so I would find any excuse to come in late the next morning. I preferred not to be there while Roger was there. A lot of the time it was so tense. And a lot of it was directed at me. I had gone to a private school in Toronto where I was one of two Jews and I was regularly beaten up—I was the scapegoat. We went to France and the atmosphere turned that way, at first playfully. But what was playful to Roger was painful to me because it took me back to that time in Toronto when I was a gangly kid and I wanted to hang myself. Roger didn’t know about that; I’ve never mentioned it before now. God forbid you show a weak spot. But I did. I should have fought back, but I didn’t.
GILMOUR It wasn’t total war, though there were bad vibes, certainly toward Rick, because he didn’t seem to be pulling his weight.
WRIGHT I wanted to work, but Roger was making it difficult for that to happen. I think he was already thinking of trying to get rid of me.
EZRIN I saw it happening, and it really made me quite ill. I felt that so much pressure was being put on Rick that it was impossible for him to live up to expectations. It was almost as though he was being set up to fail.
WATERS Why did I fire Rick? Because he was not prepared to cooperate in the making of the record. What actually happened was The Wall was the first album where we didn’t divide the production credit between everybody in the band. At the beginning of the process, when I said I was going to bring Bob Ezrin in and he was going to get paid, I said, “I’m going to produce the record as well, so is Dave, so we’re going to get paid as well, but Nick, you don’t actually do any record production, and Rick neither do you. So you’re not going to get paid.” Nick said, “Fair enough,” but Rick said, “No, I produce the records just as much as you do.” So we agreed we would start making the record and we would see. But who would be the arbiter? We all agreed on Ezrin.
So Rick sat in the studio. He would arrive exactly on time, which was very unusual, and stay to the bitter end every night. Ezrin was slightly irked by this brooding presence very occasionally saying, “I don’t like that.” He asked me, “Why’s Rick here again?” So I said, “Don’t you get it? He’s putting in the time to prove he’s a record producer. You talk to him about it.” So he did. After that Rick never came to another session, unless he was asked to do keyboard tracks. And he became almost incapable of playing any keyboards anyway. It was a nightmare. I think that was the beginning of the end.
We had agreed to deliver the album at the beginning of October and we took a break in August to go on holiday. I sat down with a bunch of sheet music and paper and wrote out all the songs and what was needed and made up a schedule. It became clear to me that we couldn’t get it finished in the time available. So I called Ezrin, “Would you be prepared to start a week earlier on the keyboard parts with Rick in Los Angeles?” Eventually he went, “All right, thanks pal”—because of the idea of doing the keyboard tracks with Rick. I said, “Look, you can get another keyboard player in as well in case it’s stuff he can’t handle, but if you get all that keyboard overdubbing done before the rest of us arrive we can just about make the end of the schedule.”
A couple of days later I got a call from Steve O’Rourke. I said, “Did you speak to Rick?” “Yeah. He said, ‘Tell Roger to fuck off.’ ” Right that’s it. Here I was doing all this work and Rick had been doing nothing for months, and I got, “Fuck off.” I spoke to Dave and Nick and said, “I can’t work with this guy, he’s impossible,” and they both went, “Yeah, he is.”
Anyway, it was agreed by everybody. I made the suggestion that O’Rourke gave to Rick: either you can have a long battle or you can agree to this, and “this” was “You finish making the album, keep your full share of the album, but at the end of it you leave quietly.” Rick agreed. So the idea of big bad Roger suddenly getting rid of Rick for no reason at all on his own is nonsense.
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