Earlier this week, Roger Waters blasted Facebook for daring to approach him about the use of his song “Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2” in an advertisement for Instagram. “It arrived this morning, with an offer for a huge, huge amount of money,” Waters said at a pro–Julian Assange event. “And the answer is, ‘Fuck You. No fuckin’ way.’”
“I only mention that because this is an insidious movement of them to take over absolutely everything,” he continued. “I will not be a party to this bullshit, [Mark] Zuckerberg.”
The Facebook employee who hatched this idea apparently did little research into the matter before reaching out to Waters. Not only has he never allowed his music to be used in an advertisement of any kind, but he’s on record as absolutely despising Facebook. “How did this little prick who started out as ‘She’s pretty, we’ll give her a four out of five, she’s ugly, we’ll give her a four out of five,’ how did we give him any power?” Waters asked. “And yet here he is, one of the most powerful idiots in the world.”
And while Roger Waters and David Gilmour agree on very little regarding the maintenance of Pink Floyd’s legacy, or really much of anything else for that matter, they are in complete agreement that the band’s songs should not be exploited in this fashion. The stance has cost them untold millions over the years, but it’s also spared us the spectacle of seeing “Money” in a bank commercial, “Comfortably Numb” in a prescription ad, or “Wish You Were Here” in a tourism spot.
The problem is that they only control the songs where at least one of them is credited as a writer. That’s basically the entire Pink Floyd catalog after the brief Syd Barrett era, but there is 1973’s “The Great Gig in the Sky” where keyboardist Richard Wright was initially given sole credit. That meant they couldn’t do a thing to stop this insane 1974 commercial for Dole bananas from using the song once Wright signed off on it.
As you can see from this clip on YouTube, the spot features a model peeling a banana in a manner that can best be described as “erotic.” She then takes a bite and twirls around in orgasmic delight as the song plays. It may seem like some sort of bizarre parody, but this is indeed a real commercial.
Sixteen years later, Wright and original vocalist Clare Torry re-recorded “The Great Gig in the Sky” for a commercial for the painkiller Nurofen. “Rick wrote that music,” David Gilmour said when asked about the ad. “He remade it for them. It’s down to the writer. If my name had been on that track too it wouldn’t have happened. I wouldn’t do it. But that’s Rick’s business. I didn’t approve of it, but I have no control over it.”
A few years later, Claire Torry filed a successful lawsuit against Pink Floyd and was awarded co-writing credit on the song. That gives her a stronger financial incentive to push it into more ads, but she’d need the approval of the Wright estate and that doesn’t seem to have happened yet. But if Facebook are looking for a Pink Floyd song, they should reach out to her and Wright’s heirs. It would infuriate Roger Waters to no end, but he’d be powerless to stop it.