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February 7, 1980: Pink Floyd Begins ‘The Wall’ Tour

While Roger Waters successfully toured the iconic Pink Floyd ‘The Wall” album in 2010 and 2012, the original Wall tour was wrought with many challenges. February 7, 1980 marked the first night of Pink Floyd’s 31 date tour for ‘The Wall.’  The Los Angeles Memorial Sports Auditorium was the first stop of this larger than life tour, which featured extensive stage theatrics, large inflatable puppets, and of course, the construction of a massive wall across the stage.

Before starting the tour, the band was already having issues. Roger Waters and Rick Wright could not see eye to eye during the recording of the Wall, which was allegedly due to Wright having substance issues. Waters insisted that Wright be fired as a member of the band, or else Roger Waters would be the one leaving. Waters got his way, and Wright was hired on as a session musician for both the album, and the tour.

Despite Wright not being an official ‘band member’ for this tour, he did play with the band and Pink Floyd’s the Wall tour would be the last tour to feature Roger Waters, David Gilmour, Rick Wright, and Nick Mason together.

Heading into the first show in LA, the infrastructure (stage props, inflatables) and the man hours expended had already cost them $1.5 million dollars (about $4,350,766 today).  Due to costs and the size of the production, the 31 date tour took place in just 4 cities. The first show was near perfect musically, but the stage curtain caught on fire in the first 20 minutes  of the show.  The actually stopped the first show for at least 20-40 minutes to put the fire out and make sure on-stage conditions were safe. Each night, the band played the entire ‘Wall” album, with some non-album tracks or alternate takes, including "What Shall We Do Now?", "The Show Must Go On" with an extra verse, and "The Last Few Bricks”.

Though short lived, ‘The Wall’ tour paved the way for large scale concert productions, as it was light years ahead of its time.  Despite being attended by hundreds of thousands of concert goers, it’s pre-production and per-concert production costs  - such as paying a crew to build a 420 brick cardboard wall each night – none of the official band members took home a paycheck from tour proceeds.  They  shared equally in the costs and profits of the tour and there were no profits after production costs.

Ironically, the only ‘band member’ to be paid was Rick Wright. His demotion to part-time ‘hired gun’ guaranteed him a nightly wage, something that the guys he played with each evening, never realized from that tour.

In 2010 Roger Waters would go on to tour ‘The Wall’ again, but in a stadium setting, which he initially avoided because he felt that a stadium setting would detract from the ‘distance between artist and audience’ theme of the album. Whether that is true or not, the recent Roger Waters tour allowed many who were unable to attend one of the original dates, to  witness the magic that is ‘The Wall.’

This tour  most certainly gave Roger the chance to realize a significant paycheck from the tour’s proceeds.

 

Sean Burke is a Rock/Classic Rock reporter and addict, who scours the Internet almost as long as he is awake to get the most up-to-date, accurate updates on all of the top Rock artists. When not talking about music, Sean can be found playing an epic air guitar solo while standing on your favorite piece of furniture.