Amidst their celebrated musical prowess, Pink Floyd found themselves entangled in internal strife, despite their cultivated image of sophistication. With each member possessing a strong personality, clashes inevitably emerged, particularly as Roger Waters asserted his dominance, altering the band’s dynamic.
Following the meteoric success of their seminal album “The Dark Side of the Moon” in 1973, tensions within Pink Floyd began to simmer. This familiar narrative, a recurring motif in the tapestry of music history, witnessed the group grappling with the inevitable descent from their pinnacle achievement.
In a candid interview with Chris Salewicz in 1987, Waters lamented, “Dark Side Of The Moon finished the Pink Floyd off once and for all. To attain such success is every band’s aspiration. Yet, once attained, it heralds the end. Looking back, I believe Pink Floyd met its demise as far back as then.”
The fissures began to surface in various manifestations following their magnum opus. Foremost among these was Waters’ gradual detachment from the collective, leading to strained personal and creative ties. Though the culmination was years away, fleeting moments foreshadowed the eventual rupture.
Guitarist David Gilmour recalls one such harbinger during the recording sessions for their 1975 album “Wish You Were Here,” the successor to their triumph. It was while recording “Have a Cigar” that dissent towards Waters emerged, critiques aimed at his vocals deemed “unkind.”
Notably, the lead vocals were entrusted to influential folk singer and friend of the band, Roy Harper, as Waters’ voice was strained from performing the epic “Shine On You Crazy Diamond.” Gilmour, reluctant to undertake the vocals himself, opted for Harper, conveniently located nearby at Abbey Road Studios.
Reflecting on the episode in a 2011 interview with Mojo, Gilmour revealed, “Roger attempted to sing it, and some were less than complimentary about his rendition. A few suggested I give it a try, but it didn’t sit right with me.”
He continued, “It wasn’t a matter of disliking the lyrics. Perhaps the vocal range and intensity didn’t align with my voice. I distinctly recall Roy hovering outside Abbey Road while we deliberated, persistently insisting, ‘Let me have a shot.’ We brushed him off initially, but eventually relented. Most of us were satisfied with his rendition, although Roger remained displeased.”
As echoes of “Have a Cigar” reverberate, one cannot help but discern the discord simmering beneath the surface, foreshadowing the tempest yet to engulf Pink Floyd.