Inside Pink Floyd: Rolling Stone's 1987 Cover Story

Roger Waters and David Gilmour talk about the battles that tore apart this legendary band

November 19, 1987
rolling stone magazine 513 pink floyd cover story
Rolling Stone Magazine Issue #513
Illustration by Melissa Grimes for RollingStone.com

They simply refused to leave. The houselights were up, and the ushers were counting the minutes before they could knock off for the night. But even after three full hours of lasers in the face, trippy sound-in-the-round, brain-frying special effects and all those Fm-radio classics – "One of These Days," "Time," "Us and Them," "Welcome to the Machine," "Comfortably Numb"–the 15,000 kids in the Montreal Forum would not budge. For nearly twenty minutes, they stood at their seats, screaming themselves hoarse, determined not to move an inch until Pink Floyd came back onstage.

That this wasn't quite the same Pink Floyd – Roger Waters, the band's bassist, singer and dominant songwriter, was absent – that had transfixed potheads in the early, spacey Seventies did not faze this audience, or the other two Sro crowds during the group's three-night stand in Montreal. Hell, they'd just seen the humongous inflatable pig from the '77 Animals tour and the crashing airplane from the old Dark Side of the Moon shows. And when the silvery chime of David Gilmour's guitar skated over Rick Wright's burbling Hammond organ and Nick Mason's heartbeat drumming in "Echoes," with Gilmour's and Wright's voices gliding together in feathery harmony, it definitely sounded like Pink Floyd. Veteran Floyd freaks had waited for this a long time, a whole decade since the full quartet's last major tour. Novices were here because of the Great Floyd Mystique, the tales of concert wonder passed down by elder brothers and old hippie uncles. And the crowd wasn't going to leave until it got one more shot.

Eventually, the Floyd relented, returning with its seven-member troupe of extra musicians and singers for a stab at "Shine On You Crazy Diamond," which they'd tested only a couple of times in rehearsal. "It was extraordinary," said Gilmour later. "The people were on their feet cheering so loudly that at a couple of points I couldn't even hear what I was playing."

"There were a few mistakes," said Wright, laughing, "but we got through it. And the song is so Floydian. It was a perfect way to end the evening." Gilmour had announced the song with peals of church-bell guitar over icy keyboards and a slow blues pulse, heightening the chill of the absent Waters's reflection on the eclipsing of genius by madness. Later, as the fans filed out, one of the big sellers at the merchandise stands was a T-shirt that said, on the front, "Pink Floyd," and, on the back, "Still First in Space."

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