Roger Waters

On this date in 1943, English rock musician, composer and songwriter (George) Roger Waters, best known for his highly successful 20-year career in the band Pink Floyd, was born in Great Bookham, Surrey, United Kingdom. Waters met fellow Pink Floyd member and first lead singer, Syd Barrett, while growing up in Cambridge, attending the same school. David Gilmour, who would replace Barrett as lead singer in 1967 (the band formed in 1965), attended a different school on the same road. Waters met the other band members, Nick Mason and Richard Wright, while studying architecture at the Regent Street Polytechnic in London. While Barrett at first wrote most of Pink Floyd's music, the 1967 song that helped launch the band into the spotlight, "Take Up Thy Stethoscope and Walk," was written by Waters. After Barrett's departure, Waters gained creative control over the band's music, writing almost all of the lyrics. It was also his idea to create "concept albums," such as The Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here, Animals, The Wall and The Final Cut. In addition to his role as bassist and lead vocalist, Waters wrote the lyrics to many of Pink Floyd's songs. A series of albums the band produced in the 1970s are among the best-selling records of all time. The original band dissolved in 1985 due to creative conflicts, but Gilmour ultimately won the legal right, after a contentious public battle with Waters, to continue to use the Pink Floyd name and a majority of the band's songs. Since the dissolution, Waters and Pink Floyd have made attempts at reunion shows, benefit concerts and tours. Waters embarked on a solo career after Pink Floyd, with the critically acclaimed hit album, Amused to Death (1992), and a solo world tour starting in 1999, which became so successful it extended to three years. Waters worked on an opera, "Ça Ira," for 16 years, which was released in 2005.

In an interview with Mark Brown of the Rocky Mountain News, Waters said: "Please, God — I'm an atheist so maybe I shouldn't be asking God — but let Barack Obama finally win the Democratic nomination and elect a person who seems to be not just enormously intelligent but also deeply humane and seems to have an imagination" (April 25, 2008). From his lyrics for "What God Wants, Part I": "Through the power of money, And the power of your prayers, What God wants God gets God help us all. God wants dollars, God wants cents, God wants pounds shillings and pence . . . God don't want small potatoes, God wants small towns, God wants pain . . . God wants TV God wants contributions, What God wants God gets God help us all. God wants silver, God wants gold, God wants his secret never to be told. God wants fame, God wants credit, God wants blame, God wants poverty, God wants wealth, God wants insurance, God wants to cover himself. What God wants God gets God help us all . . . " (from Amused to Death album, 1992).

"I had some pretty dark and desperate moments all those years ago . . . . I didn't ever smash up a hotel room or throw a TV out a window. That was Led Zeppelin. Thank god. If there was a god, you know, which there isn't."

—Roger Waters interview from "The Wall Tour," on AOL Web site, by Live Nation

Compiled by Bonnie Gutsch

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