Pink Floyd singer-guitarist David Gilmour and his wife, Polly Samson, who wrote lyrics for the band’s later songs, are not pulling any punches about Roger Waters, whose stances on Israel, Ukraine and Russia have alarmed many of the band’s followers in recent years. On social media, Samson called Waters “rotten to your antisemitic core” and “a Putin apologist,” among other things — and Gilmour emphatically cosigned his spouse’s statement, writing: “Every word demonstrably true.”
Most of the epithets lobbed by Samson against Waters had to do with his global political stands, but thrown in, as an aside, was a charge that the Floyd co-founder engages in lip-syncing on tour.
Wrote Samson on Twitter Monday: “Sadly @rogerwaters you are antisemitic to your rotten core. Also a Putin apologist and a lying, thieving, hypocritical, tax-avoiding, lip-synching, misogynistic, sick-with-envy, megalomaniac. Enough of your nonsense.”
Gilmour quote-tweeted his wife’s missive, writing that he considered every word written by Samson against Waters “demonstrably true.”
Waters responded to Samson’s tweet with his own Twitter message, written in the third person, which some followers took as a hint that he is considering legal action. “Roger Waters is aware of the incendiary and wildly inaccurate comments made about him on Twitter by Polly Samson which he refutes entirely,” the message read. “He is currently taking advice as to his position.”
Waters has given many interviews in recent years that some fans who support Israel and/or Ukraine have considered a last straw. Samson and Gilmour did not say what it was that triggered this explosive statement, but the most likely source of their suddenly public ire is an interview the singer-bassist did in which he criticized his former bandmates for having reunited to record a pro-Ukraine song last year and otherwise doubled down on some of his most polarizing positions.
The interview with German newspaper Berliner Zeitung was reprinted in an English translation on Waters’ website. In it, he said it was “sad” that Gilmour and Nick Mason joined up with Ukrainian musician Andrij Chlywnjuk to record a song protesting Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“I have seen the video” released under the Floyd banner, Waters said, “and I am not surprised, but I find it really, really sad. It’s so alien to me, this action is so lacking in humanity. It encourages the continuation of the war. Pink Floyd is a name I used to be associated with. That was a huge time in my life, a very big deal. To associate that name now with something like this… proxy war makes me sad. I mean, they haven’t made the point of demanding, ‘Stop the war, stop the slaughter, bring our leaders together to talk!’ It’s just this content-less waving of the blue and yellow flag.”
Waters called Russia’s invasion of Ukraine “probably the most provoked invasion ever.”
“What everyone in the West is being told is the ‘unprovoked invasion’ narrative. Huh? Anyone with half a brain can see that the conflict in Ukraine was provoked beyond all measure,” he said.
The article found Waters reiterating that he would play in Moscow but never Israel, which, as a supporter of the Palestinian cause, he considers a “genocidal” nation. “Moscow does not run an apartheid state based on the genocide of the indigenous inhabitants,” said Waters. Challenged repeatedly on his anti-Ukraine statements, he said, “You seem to be asking me to see Russia from the current Russo-phobic perspective. I choose to see it differently.”
Waters has had concerts in Poland canceled over his views. In a statement on his website prefacing the interview reprint, he vowed not to back down. “Wild horses couldn’t keep me away,” he wrote, “and neither can this apartheid rabble.” He tore into what he called “an outrageous and despicable smear campaign by the Israeli lobby to denounce me as an anti-semite, which I am not, never have been and never will be.”
Waters, Gilmour and Mason last played together at a Waters show in London in 2011, a rare moment of detente between frontmen who have often been at odds, to say the least, since they last recorded together as Pink Floyd in the early 1980s. Their only other joint appearance since the “Final Cut” album was a reunion set at Live 8 in 2005.
Their business interests, nonetheless, remain aligned, for purposes that include the Floyd catalog reportedly being up for sale at a price in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
Although it was Waters’ intent that Pink Floyd not go on when he left the group in the early ’80s, Gilmour, Mason and Rick Wright opted to continue without him under the Floyd banner into the ’90s, enjoying successful followup albums and tours, with Samson drafted to write some of the lyrics in Waters’ absence. Fans have continued to hope for a reunion, even as both Gilmour and Waters have made clear just how extraordinarily unlikely that is, with little coming of Mason’s peacemaking efforts.
Waters’ latest incendiary interview followed by a few months an argumentative conversation with CNN in which he suggested that China has a better record on human rights than the U.S. Describing China’s history of suppression of its own people as “bollocks,” Waters said, “The Chinese didn’t invade Iraq and kill a million people in 2003.” He defended China as having the right to invade Taiwan, saying, ““They aren’t encircling Taiwan – Taiwan is part of China and that’s been absolutely accepted by the whole of the international community since 1948.”
Waters first faced charges of antisemitism when he emblazoned a Star of David on an inflatable pig that flew over the audience during an “Animals”-themed segment of his tour, although his response was that he considered the emblem to be a symbol of Israel specifically and not the Jewish people generally.