George Roger Waters was born on September 6, 1943, in Leatherhead, Surrey, England. He’s best known as a founding member of Pink Floyd, eventually taking a leadership role after the 1968 departure of Syd Barrett. Waters left the band in 1985 to pursue a solo career, while the other members continued with the name, music, and props, over his objections. Relations between the surviving members have warmed somewhat in recent years, with various permutations of the band performing at isolated events.
The music of Bob Dylan and Pink Floyd is not as diametrically opposed as it might first appear. For starters, they were both steeped in American music, most notably Rhythm and Blues, then went on to compose and perform more lengthy, mind-expanding, ground-breaking music. However, there is not much crossover in the careers of Dylan and the members of Pink Floyd.
Barrett wrote his original song “Bob Dylan Blues” sometime between 1962 and 1964. According to Julian Palacios’ 1998 book, Lost In The Woods, a young Syd Barrett saw Bob Dylan in London, with his girlfriend, Libby Gausden. It states that Barrett saw Dylan’s first major London show in March of 1963, but there is no evidence of such a performance. It must have been either Royal Festival Hall in 1964, or one of a handful of smaller gigs between mid-December 1962 and early January 1963.
Since the Waters/Floyd split, Pink Floyd is known to have covered “Like A Rolling Stone” at a soundcheck in Tampa, Florida, on the fifth day of May, 1994, according to Dylan Covers.
Meanwhile, Waters recorded his version of “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” for the score of the late 1990s Israeli film The Dybbuk of the Holy Apple Field. It was also included on 1998’s Flickering Flame: The Solo Years Volume 1.
Here are some comments from Waters about Dylan:
You can draw a line between what I’m interested in and what I’m not interested in. On one side you can name Dylan and Lennon, who observe the world and have feelings, and write songs directly from those feelings. On the vapid side you have pop groups who need material and write songs to fill the hole, rather than getting somebody else… I always question stuff I do. There’s a moment after making a demo of a song and sticking it on in the car when I really get off on it, but it doesn’t last very long. And then when it’s in a finished record and you listen to it once or twice, it’s there, but again, it doesn’t last. I think it is in the nature of all people who do these things – in the Lennon, the Dylan, the Pete Townshend manner, that come from the heart – that the gratification doesn’t stay with you and you feel compelled to go start the process all over again. – Musician, November, 1992.
Brian from Rochester, N.Y.:
Hello Roger, it’s quite an honour to speak to you and it’s been well worth the wait for the Amused To Death album. I have two questions for you tonight. The first one, in the song “Too Much Rope” you say “Each man has his price Bob, and yours is pretty low”. Are you referring to Bob Ezrin?
Strangely enough, a lot of the lyrics I write now I write directly onto tape by putting some music down on a track and then going into the studio and running the tape and singing directly without thinking too much about what it is. And those verses of “Too Much Rope”, I did like that. The reference when I actually put the word down on tape was to Bob Dylan because at the time, I was going through a kind of Bob Dylan sound-alike period to amuse myself in the studio. Uh, so I would be singing (Dylan style) “Each man has his price Bob”, like that. For a joke. But afterwards it seemed to me a rather appertain lyric for Bob Ezrin so I left it in because of Ezrin as a little gift for Bob Ezrin. Yeah.
So, Dylan in mind but if it works the other way, no problem with that either, huh?
(Dylan-esque) That’s right. That’s right. – Rockline, Westwood One, February, 1993
Q) Did you feel any sense of of common cause with the Punks, or understand why they were doing what they did?
Roger Waters: Do you know, I`ve never been very interested in modern music. I might find some of it enjoyable, but it`s never really been interesting. I never really heard the Clash, and certainly not the Sex Pistols, so I can`t really answer that question. As I still am now, I was listening to Neil Young when all that happened. It passed me by. I`ll always listen to a new Dylan album. But it takes an awful lot of something for anyone else to break in to what I listen to. – Q special edition October 2004 on Pink Floyd
Mark Sainsbury: What modern-day music do you think might last the test of time?
Roger Waters: Do you know to be perfectly honest with you I don’t really listen to very much music and certainly not much contemporary pop music anyway. It’s not to say that I don’t think it’s any good. It’s just my interest lies in other areas. I still listen to music and I listen to a lot of classical music and I have my few favourite sort of song writers who, when they produce new work, I’ll sort of listen to it. So I always buy the new Dylan album and the new Neil Young album and the new John Prine album and I’ll sniff around one or two other things if I catch something on the radio. But by in large I’m not really interested in it. TVNZ, January 23, 2007
I came to Olympiysky at 18:30. During the soundcheck I heard mostly songs of Bob Dylan. After three songs I felt that Bob Dylan got me bored (as for me, his music is very specific)… And the people were coming, Bob Dylan songs were followed by John Lennon’s “Mother” and “Imagine”. The last moment before the show was some woman’s speech about that there shoudn’t be flash and fireworks unless the apparatus could come undone. – A fan’s soundcheck observation from Roger Waters’ April 23, 2011, concert at Moscow’s Olympyisky.
Waters hired Dylan’s first guitarist from the Never Ending Tour, G.E. Smith, in late 2010, to play in Waters’ 2010-11 The Wall tour. Smith once appeared with David Gilmour, when the Pink Floyd guitarist jammed with the Saturday Night Live band on December 12, 1987.
Waters also enlisted the following Dylan-related artist to participate in 1990s The Wall – Live In Berlin: Sinead O’Connor, Marianne Faithfull, Van Morrison, Joni Mitchell, and The Band.
You can hear Waters’ cover of “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” by clicking on the embedded clip on the left:
Vocals: Roger Waters
Keyboards: Simon Chamberlain
Electric/acoustic guitar: Clem Clempson
Backing vocals: Katie Kissoon and Doreen Chanter
Produced by Nick Griffiths
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