The reunion of Pink Floyd‘s Roger Waters and David Gilmour could pack every stadium on the planet many times over, but when they reformed three years ago they opted to play at Jemima Khan’s country house. The show benefitted the Hoping Foundation, which raises money for the children of Palestinian refugees. Waters and Gilmour agree on very little, but they are both firm supporters of this cause.
Breaking out Floyd classics “Wish You Were Here” and “Comfortably Numb” was a no-brainer, but Gilmour was determined to have some fun by playing the Teddy Bears’ (featuring Phil Spector) 1958 classic “To Know Him Is to Love Him.” “What with us having been so famously at each other’s throats for years and years,” Waters wrote on Facebook. “Get it!!!!”
Waters was ambivalent about the plan. “He sent me a number of very musical and eloquent demos of how we could do the song in two-part harmony,” he said. “I listened with a sinking heart, knowing that David, with his superior vocal skills, could sing either part standing on his head, whilst I would have to search for a different key and then struggle through hours and hours of routining a performance that lay way outside my vocal comfort zone. To my eternal shame I bottled out and told Dave I would happily do ‘Wish You Were Here’ and ‘C. Numb’, but that ‘To Know Him Is to Love him’ was beyond me.”
Gilmour didn’t want to abandon the plan, so he dropped a bombshell on his former bandmate. “He made one final entreaty,” Waters wrote. “I quote, ‘If you do ‘To Know Him Is to Love Him’ for the Hoping Foundation Gig, I’ll come and do ‘C. Numb’ on one of your Wall shows.’ Well! You could have knocked me down with a feather. How fucking cool! I was blown away. How could I refuse such an offer. I couldn’t, there was no way. Generosity trumped fear . . . And so explaining that I would probably be shite, but if he didn’t mind I didn’t, I agreed and the rest is history. We did it, and it was fucking great. End of story. Or possibly beginning.”
The event wasn’t meant to be captured on film. “Roger banned all recording equipment,” Gilmour told Rolling Stone in 2011. “But I brought my own camera and told a guy, ‘Just press that button on at the beginning and off again at the end.’ Afterward, I told Roger I filmed it and he said, ‘Fantastic!’ And I didn’t say, ‘Well, you wouldn’t fucking allow me to have a halfway-decent camera up here.’ But, no, we had a great time. We got fairly pissed drunk afterward for a few hours. Then he goes his way and I go mine.”
The surprise reunion set Pink Floyd fans into a frenzy. What did “possibly beginning” mean? Which Wall show would feature Gilmour? Might this lead to an actual Pink Floyd reunion? The following May, Gilmour played guitar on “Comfortably Numb” at London’s 02 arena, and then came back out with Floyd drummer Nick Mason for “Outside the Wall.”
Sadly, it was the closest thing to a Pink Floyd reunion possible these days after the death of keyboardist Richard Wright in 2008. Waters is still on his endless Wall tour, but any sort of Floyd reunion besides some sort of charity one-off seems very unlikely. “I understand how other people want that sort of thing to happen,” Gilmour said in 2011. “But I’m entirely selfish in thinking that I want to enjoy my declining years exactly the way that I want to do it. And that wouldn’t be part of it.”