Roger Waters says David Gilmour’s iconic guitar solo in Pink Floyd’s Comfortably Numb was not his first take

David Gilmour and Roger Waters performing live in 2005
(Image credit: Dave Hogan/Live 8 via Getty Images)

UPDATE (10.02.23): In his 2022 interview, Bob Ezrin was in fact referring to David Gilmour’s first solo when he claimed it was a first take. Please see Total Guitar’s clarification for more info.

Last year, producer of Pink Floyd’s The Wall Bob Ezrin gave David Gilmour’s iconic second guitar solo on Comfortably Numb an extra layer of mysticism by revealing the lead effort that eventually made the final cut was the Stratocaster master’s first take.

According to Ezrin, while recording the 1979 masterpiece Gilmour attempted to use “scores of takes” to improve upon his initial effort, but “it never got better”: “The second solo in Comfortably Numb, which may be the best solo of all time,” he told Total Guitar, “is actually a first take.”

Well, Roger Waters has now taken issue with Ezrin’s comments, and has claimed during a YouTube Q&A that the producer wasn’t in the room when Gilmour recorded the solo, and that he’s “lied through his fucking teeth” about it for “years and “years”.

When asked by one fan whether he ever interjected his “opinions or criticisms on David’s solos” while recording The Wall, Waters replied, “Of course I expressed my opinions, because I was producing the record and so was he. 

“And so was, who else… Who was it? [Bob] Ezrin and James Guthrie. So we would all stick our oar in,” he continued, before adding the team would “sometimes leave him alone to do a few takes”.

While on the topic of Gilmour’s solos, Waters then singled out the Comfortably Numb solo – which was voted third best of all time by Guitar World readers in 2021 – and sought to seemingly set the record straight on how the effort was put together.

“When you read my memoir, you can read various peoples' stories about what happened,” Waters asserted. “Ezrin has lied through his fucking teeth about it for years and years. It’s wonderful. 

“The end of Comfortably Numb, for instance – and if I’m getting this wrong, James Guthrie will correct me – Ezrin waxes eloquent in interviews that he’s done since about how incredible it was that David did it in one take, and how moving it is and universal and blah, blah blah…

“The only problem with that story is he wasn't there. Bob Ezrin was not in the studio when Dave did that. Guthrie was there and David did umpteen takes, and then he went away and James Guthrie edited the best bits of all the takes and stuck it together.”

It’s not the first time Waters and Gilmour’s solos have been mentioned in the same breath recently. Discussion of the Comfortably Numb solo calls back to an exchange from earlier this year, in which Waters says he was misquoted calling David Gilmour’s solos “horrible”.

In February, an uncited source referenced in a publication called El Pais made the claim that all of Gilmour’s guitar solos from The Dark Side of the Moon – which is being reissued as The Dark Side of the Moon Redux by Waters – were removed because the singer disliked them.

Those lead efforts were indeed removed – the recently released re-recording of Money was completely solo-less – but it wasn’t because Waters thought they were “horrible”.

“I love Dave’s guitar solos on DSOTM, both of them, and on [Wish You Were Here] and on Animals and on The Wall and on The Final Cut,” Waters said in an Instagram post at the time. “In my, albeit biased view, Dave’s solos on those albums, constitute a collection of some of the very best guitar solos in the history of rock and roll.”

In his YouTube Q&A, Waters once again doubled down on his praise: “I like all [of] Gilmour’s solos,” he stressed. “I say [it] so often. I say so, I believe, in the sleeve notes on the new record.

“There’s nothing wrong with Dave’s solos. There’s nothing wrong with his solos on The Wall, or his solos on Animals, or his solos on The Dark Side of the Moon, or Wish You Were Here, or The Final Cut, or any of the work that I did with him. I’m a fan. They’re great.”

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Matt Owen

Matt is a Staff Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.