Author Dave Thompson Reveals the Roger Waters Behind The Wall
It is one of classic rock's pillar albums -- and not even the only one from its creators. But Pink Floyd's 1979 opus The Wall has definitely taken on a life well outside of just headphones and head trips.
And while indeed all four members contributed to the musical portion, the genesis of The Wall's story concept of death, alienation, repression and rock-star sleaze sprung mainly from the tortured mind of singer/bassist Roger Waters.
In this new bio, music journalist Dave Thompson (Hearts of Darkness, as well as tomes on Cream, Judas Priest and Deep Purple), uses The Wall as the springboard to tell the personal and creative story of Waters.
That stretches from his earliest days as a fatherless child (his dad died in World War II) to his current world tours during which -- not surprisingly -- he presented his most ambitious (and up-to-date) prop-heavy staging of The Wall for audiences around the world.
Recently Rocks Off emailed with Thompson about the new work and his own surprising opinion of The Wall.
Rocks Off: What made you decide to tackle a Roger Waters bio?
Dave Thompson: Mainly, the fact that there has never been one -- and because his solo career (which has now lasted twice as long as the Floyd did) deserved it.
Of course it's been mentioned in books about the band itself, but the waters are always muddied by the other band members' presence (if you'll excuse the pun). By concentrating the book on Waters alone, it gives the reader an unimpeded view of what has actually been a single, solid career arc.
RO: What surprised you most about his life while doing research?
I think it was discovering that his reputation for being... shall we say... a little brusque with people is a lot more complicated than the headlines and anecdotes like to say.
If he's a perfectionist, he's an equal-opportunity one. In a band situation, in the studio, or onstage, he expects everybody to have the same high standards as he does. And if they don't, then what are they doing in the band?
RO: He has this image of a mercurial malcontent perfectionist. But is that reputation deserved, or has it been blown up since the other three Floyds seem more laid-back?
Ah, I think I just answered that one. But yes, his reputation did "worsen" once he left the band, with the media taking the other musicians' side and painting things even worse than they were.
A lot of Waters' "complaints," both before and after he left, were justified. And to go back to your last question...yes, that was probably the biggest surprise for me.
Interview continues on the next page.