Why Did Pink Floyd Break Up & What Was Their Conflict?

It All Started With Roger Waters. Roger Waters, the enigmatic artistic mastermind behind Pink Floyd, has always been one to fly solo. He’s not keen on collaborating with others, preferring to steer his own ship. Then walks David Gilmour, who joined the band in 1968, after the wild and wacky Syd Barrett had to bow out due to unforeseen circumstances.

But, as time passed, the two men locked horns in a battle for creative control. Waters eventually called it quits in 1985, sparking a legal feud that raged on for years. To make his exit official, Waters cited the “Leaving Member” clause in his contract and declared that without him, Pink Floyd was nothing.

In a move that would make any courtroom drama proud, Waters took Pink Floyd to court in October 1986, seeking to dissolve the band completely.

He even went so far as to call them a “spent force creatively.” But Gilmour and Nick Mason weren’t having it. They argued that Pink Floyd was far from dead and that Waters couldn’t just declare it so.

After much legal wrangling, Waters eventually resigned from Pink Floyd in 1987. But you can bet that the waters were choppy between these two creative powerhouses for a long time to come.

During an interview with the BBC in 2013, Roger Waters accepted that he completely made the wrong call in the court: “I was wrong! Of course I was,” he said, before adding: “Who cares? It’s one of the few times that the legal profession has taught me something.”

“Because when I went to these chaps and said, ‘Listen we’re broke, this isn’t Pink Floyd anymore,’ they went, ‘What do you mean? That’s irrelevant, it is a label, and it has commercial value. You can’t say it’s going to cease to exist; you obviously don’t understand English jurisprudence.’” 

Everyone had thought the band would never perform again that miracle appeared in 2005.

The reunion of Waters and Gilmour for the Live 8 charity performance in 2005 was like a unicorn sighting, a rare event that seemed impossible to happen.

But hey, they did it for a cause more meaningful than their grudges, and it was a fantastic show. There was hope in the air, but alas, it was short-lived.

After the performance, the band was offered a massive $150 million payout for a US tour, and one would think that kind of cash could make anyone forget their differences. But no, not Waters and Gilmour.

They remained stubborn as a mule and declined the offer, proving that the reunion wasn’t about the money, but rather a fleeting moment of goodwill.

It’s impressive that the duo managed to pull off a successful show together, but their egos couldn’t let go of the past. Even after four decades after Waters’ departure from Pink Floyd, he still manages to hold a grudge against Gilmour, finding anything and everything to criticize about him.

The Dispute Between Roger and Glimour Continues

In 2020, Waters shared a video stating that he did not have the access to the official Pink Floyd site whereas Glimour’s wife had the access to promote her novels.

“One and half million of you have viewed our new version of ‘Mother’, which is lovely – it really warms my heart,”

He continues; “but it does bring up the question: why is this video not available on a website that calls itself The Pink Floyd website? Well, the answer to that is because nothing from me is on the website – I am banned by David Gilmour from the website.”

Waters added: “David thinks he owns it. I think he thinks that because I left the band in 1985, he owns Pink Floyd, that he is Pink Floyd and I’m irrelevant and I should just keep my mouth shut.” 

But Waters didn’t stop there and he decided to snipe Glimour’s wife out of it!

“Why do we have to sit and watch Polly Samson, year after year, month after month, day after day – and the Von Trapps reading us excerpts from their novels to get us to go to sleep at night?

“We’re not allowed to even mention [my projects] on the official Pink Floyd website,” Waters said in rage. “This is wrong. We should rise up…or, just change the name of the band to Spinal Tap and then everything will be hunky-dory.”

Let’s take a look at what Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason said about the iconic feud between Rogers and Gilmour during a 2018 interview with Rolling Stones. 

“It’s a really odd thing in my opinion. But I think the problem is Roger doesn’t really respect David. He feels that writing is everything and that guitar playing and singing are something that, I won’t say anyone can do, but that everything should be judged on the writing rather than the playing. I think it rankles with Roger that he made a sort of error in a way that he left the band assuming that without him, it would fold.”

He then added: “It’s a constant irritation, really, that he’s still going back to it. I’m hesitant to get too stuck into this one, just because it’s between the two of them rather than me. I actually get along with both of them, and I think it’s really disappointing that these rather elderly gentlemen are still at loggerheads.”

Pink Floyd Continued Till 2015

As we explained earlier, the drama between Waters and Gilmour continued even after Waters left Pink Floyd.

Waters was convinced that Pink Floyd should cease to exist without him, but Gilmour and Mason had other plans. They refused to let Waters be the captain of the Pink Floyd ship and continued to make music under the band’s name without him.

Waters, being the stubborn man he is, couldn’t accept that Pink Floyd could exist without his genius, so he sued over the use of the name. But alas, he lost the case, and Gilmour and Mason continued to sail the Pink Floyd ship with just the two of them. They even managed to release three more albums, one per decade, much to Waters’ chagrin.

In the end, it seems like Pink Floyd managed to survive without Waters, and so did Waters without Pink Floyd. But let’s not forget the tragedy of Richard Wright’s passing, who was an essential member of the band.

In 2014, Gilmour and Mason released The Endless River, which was a tribute to Wright, and that’s when Waters also focused on himself and started to make records and tour as well.

2015 was really a hard year for Pink Floyd fans because that was the year when Glimour announced to Classic Rock Magazine that Pink Floyd was going to be disbanded;

I’ve had 48 years in Pink Floyd — quite a few of those years at the beginning, with Roger [Waters]. And those years in what is now considered to be our heyday were 95 percent musically fulfilling and joyous and full of fun and laughter.

He continued: “I certainly don’t want to let the other five percent color my view of what was a long and fantastic time together. But it has run its course, we are done — and it would be fakery to go back and do it again”

Leave a Comment