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The Wall is the 11th studio album by English rock band Pink Floyd. It was released as a double album on 30 November 1979, by Harvest Records in the United Kingdom and by Columbia Records in the United States. It received an initially mixed critical response, though was commercially successful, reaching number 3 on the UK Albums Chart, and topping the US Billboard 200 chart for 15 weeks. The album is considered one of the most recognisable concept albums.[4] It is the band's second best selling album (after The Dark Side of the Moon) and one of the best selling albums of all time. In 1982, it was adapted into a feature film of the same name.

The Wall
An image of a plain white brick wall.
Studio album by Pink Floyd
Released 30 November 1979 (1979-11-30)
Recorded December 1978 – November 1979
Length 80:54
Pink Floyd chronology
The Wall
A Collection of Great Dance Songs
(1981)A Collection of Great Dance Songs1981
Immersion box set cover
2012 Immersion box set cover
2012 Immersion box set cover
Singles from The Wall
  1. "Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2 / One of My Turns"
    Released: 23 November 1979
  2. "Run Like Hell / Don't Leave Me Now"
    Released: 17 April 1980
  3. "Comfortably Numb / Hey You"
    Released: 23 June 1980

Bass guitarist and songwriter Roger Waters conceived the album as a rock opera during Pink Floyd's 1977 In the Flesh Tour, when his frustration with the audience became so acute that he spat on them. Its story, which follows themes of abandonment and personal isolation, explores Pink, a character whom Waters modeled after himself and the band's original leader Syd Barrett. Pink's life begins with the loss of his father during the Second World War, and continues with abuse from his schoolteachers, an overprotective mother, and the breakdown of his marriage; all contribute to his eventual self-imposed isolation from society, represented by a metaphorical wall. The band, who were then struggling with personal and financial difficulties, supported the idea. Waters enlisted an outside collaborator, Canadian producer Bob Ezrin, due to his need for somebody who he felt was "musically and intellectually" similar to himself, as well as a helping hand for the cumbersome amount of material that was written. Recording lasted from December 1978 to November 1979, with stops in France, England, New York, and Los Angeles. Waters' song "Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2" became the band's first and only chart-topper when released as the album's lead single. Two songs co-written by guitarist David Gilmour, "Run Like Hell" and "Comfortably Numb", were also issued as singles.

The Wall remains the last studio album released with the 11-year-spanning line-up of Waters, Gilmour, keyboardist Rick Wright, and drummer Nick Mason. Wright was unceremoniously fired from the band by Waters during its production, but stayed as a salaried musician, performing with Pink Floyd on their subsequent live tour. The live performances, which were later released as a live album, featured elaborate theatrical effects. Some of the album's themes would be continued in the band's next album, The Final Cut (1983), which contained some outtakes from The Wall. By 1999, the album had sold over 23 million RIAA-certified units (11.5 million albums), making it the third-highest certified album in the US.[5] In 2003, Rolling Stone placed The Wall at number 87 on its list of "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time".



Pink Floyd's In the Flesh Tour was their first playing in large stadiums. "I disliked it intensely," recalled Waters, "because it became a social event rather than a more controlled and ordinary relationship between musicians and an audience… The front sixty rows seemed to be screaming and shouting and rocking and swaying and not really listening to anything. And those further back could see bugger-all anyway."[6]

During the tour, several shows were affected by audience members setting off firecrackers, which infuriated Waters, often leading him to stop playing and scold those responsible. In July 1977, on the final date at the Montreal Olympic Stadium, a small group of noisy and excited fans near the stage irritated Waters to such an extent that he spat at one of them.[7] He was not the only band member to feel disaffected at the show: guitarist David Gilmour refused to perform a final encore and sat at the soundboard (after having performed "Money" and "Us and Them"),[8] leaving the band, with backup guitarist Snowy White, to improvise a slow, sad twelve-bar blues, which Waters described as "some music to go home to".[9][10] Later that night, returning from hospital after an injury sustained to his foot while play-fighting backstage with manager Steve O'Rourke, Waters spoke with music producer Bob Ezrin, and a friend of Ezrin's, a psychiatrist sharing their car, about the feelings of alienation he was experiencing on the tour. He articulated his desire to isolate himself by constructing a wall across the stage between the performers and the audience.[11] He later said, "I loathed playing in stadiums ... I kept saying to people on that tour, 'I'm not really enjoying this ... there is something very wrong with this.'"[12] While Gilmour and Wright were in France recording solo albums, and Nick Mason was busy producing Steve Hillage's Green, Waters began to write new material.[13] The spitting incident became the starting point for a new concept, which explored the protagonist's self-imposed isolation after years of traumatic interactions with authority figures and the loss of his father as a young child. To execute The Wall concept was to attempt to analyse the performer's psychological separation from the audience, using a physical structure as a metaphorical and theatrical device.[10]

In July 1978 the band reconvened at Britannia Row Studios, where Waters presented two new ideas for concept albums. The first was a 90-minute demo with the working title Bricks in the Wall.[14] The second, a project about a man's dreams across one night that dealt with marriage, sex, and the pros and cons of monogamy and family life versus promiscuity.[15] The first option was chosen by the group for the new Pink Floyd project and the second idea eventually became Waters's first solo effort, a concept album titled The Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking.[14]

By September, the band was experiencing financial difficulties.[16] Financial planners Norton Warburg Group (NWG) had invested £1.3–3.3 million (up to £17.4 million in contemporary value[17]) of the group's money in high-risk venture capital to reduce their tax liabilities. The strategy failed as many of the businesses NWG invested in lost money, leaving the band facing tax rates potentially as high as 83 percent. "We made Dark Side and it looked as if we'd cracked it," recalled Waters. "Then suddenly these bastards had stolen it all. It looked as if we might be faced with huge tax bills for the money that had been lost. Eighty-three per cent was a lot of money in those days and we didn't have it."[18] Pink Floyd terminated their relationship with NWG, demanding the return of uninvested funds.[19][nb 1] "By force of necessity, I had to become closely involved in the business side," recalled Gilmour, "because no one around us has shown themselves sufficiently capable or honest to cope with it, and I saw with Norton Warburg that the shit was heading inexorably towards the fan. They weren't the first crooks we stupidly allied ourselves with. Ever since then, there's not a penny that I haven't signed for. I sign every cheque and examine everything."[18]

The band thus urgently needed to produce an album to make money. And because the project's 26 tracks presented a challenge greater than the band's previous albums, "Waters decided to bring in an outside producer and collaborator."[14] He later said, "I needed a collaborator who was musically and intellectually in a similar place to where I was." [20]

Producer Bob Ezrin had worked with Alice Cooper, Lou Reed, and Kiss, as well as producing Peter Gabriel's debut solo album.[21] At the suggestion of Waters's then-girlfriend Lady Carolyne Christie, who had worked as Ezrin's secretary, the band hired him to co-produce the album.[16] From the start, Waters made it very clear who was in charge: "You can write anything you want. Just don't expect any credit".[22] Ezrin, Waters, and Gilmour read Waters's concept, keeping what they liked, and discarding what they thought was not good enough. Waters and Ezrin worked mostly on the story, improving the concept.[23] A 40-page script was presented to the rest of the band, with positive results: "The next day at the studio, we had a table read, like you would with a play, but with the whole of the band, and their eyes all twinkled, because then they could see the album."[20] Ezrin broadened the storyline, distancing it from the autobiographical work Waters had written, and instead basing it on a composite, or gestalt character named Pink.[24] Engineer Nick Griffiths later said of the Canadian producer, "Ezrin was very good in The Wall, because he did manage to pull the whole thing together. He's a very forceful guy. There was a lot of argument about how it should sound between Roger and Dave, and he bridged the gap between them."[25] Waters wrote most of the album's material, with Gilmour co-writing "Comfortably Numb", "Run Like Hell", and "Young Lust",[26] and Ezrin co-writing "The Trial".[23]

Concept and storylineEdit

The Wall is a rock opera[27] that explores abandonment and isolation, symbolised by a metaphorical wall. The songs create an approximate storyline of events in the life of the protagonist, Pink (who is introduced in the songs "In the Flesh?" and "The Thin Ice"), a character based on Syd Barrett[28] as well as Roger Waters,[29] whose father was killed during the Second World War. Pink's father also dies in a war ("Another Brick in the Wall (Part 1)"), which is where Pink starts to build a metaphorical "wall" around him. Pink is oppressed by his overprotective mother ("Mother") and tormented at school by tyrannical, abusive teachers ("The Happiest Days of Our Lives"). All of these traumas become metaphorical "bricks in the wall" ("Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2)"). The protagonist eventually becomes a rock star, his relationships marred by infidelity, drug use, and outbursts of violence. He finally becomes married and is about to complete his "wall" ("Empty Spaces"). While touring in America, he brings a groupie home after learning of his wife's infidelity. Ruminating on his failed marriage, he trashes his room and scares the groupie away in a violent fit of rage. ("One of My Turns"). As his marriage crumbles ("Don't Leave Me Now"), he dismisses everyone he's known as "just bricks in the wall" ("Another Brick in the Wall (Part 3)") and finishes building his wall ("Goodbye Cruel World"), completing his isolation from human contact.[24][30]

Hidden behind his wall, Pink becomes severely depressed ("Hey You") and starts to lose all faith ("Vera"). In order to get him to perform, a doctor medicates him ("Comfortably Numb"). This results in a hallucinatory on-stage performance where he believes that he is a fascist dictator performing at concerts similar to Neo-Nazi rallies ("The Show Must Go On"), at which he sets brownshirts-like men on fans he considers unworthy ("In the Flesh").[30] Upon realizing the horror of what he has done ("Waiting for the Worms"), Pink becomes overwhelmed and wishes for everything around him to cease ("Stop"). Showing human emotion, he is tormented with guilt and places himself on trial ("The Trial"), his inner judge ordering him to "tear down the wall", opening Pink to the outside world ("Outside the Wall"). The album turns full circle with its closing words "Isn't this where ...", the first words of the phrase that begins the album, "... we came in?", with a continuation of the melody of the last song hinting at the cyclical nature of Waters' theme.[31]

The album includes several references to former band member Syd Barrett, including "Nobody Home", which hints at his condition during Pink Floyd's abortive US tour of 1967, with lyrics such as "wild, staring eyes", "the obligatory Hendrix perm" and "elastic bands keeping my shoes on". "Comfortably Numb" was inspired by Waters's injection with a muscle relaxant to combat the effects of hepatitis during the In the Flesh Tour, while in Philadelphia.[32]



The album was recorded in several locations. In France, Super Bear Studios was used between January and July 1979, with Waters recording his vocals at the nearby Studio Miraval. Michael Kamen supervised the orchestral arrangements at CBS Studios in New York, in September. Over the next two months the band used Cherokee Studios, Producers Workshop and The Village Recorder in Los Angeles. A plan to work with the Beach Boys at the Sundance Productions studio in Los Angeles was cancelled. For a week in November they worked at the Producers Workshop.[33][34]

James Guthrie, recommended by previous Floyd collaborator Alan Parsons, arrived early in the production process.[35] He replaced engineer Brian Humphries, emotionally drained by his five years with the band.[36] Guthrie was hired as a co-producer, but was initially unaware of Ezrin's role: "I saw myself as a hot young producer ... When we arrived, I think we both felt we'd been booked to do the same job."[37] The early sessions at Britannia Row were emotionally charged, as Ezrin, Guthrie and Waters each had strong ideas about the direction the album would take. Relations within the band were at a low ebb, and Ezrin's role expanded to that of an intermediary between Waters and the rest of the band.[38] As Britannia Row was initially regarded as inadequate for The Wall the band upgraded much of its equipment,[39] and by March another set of demos were complete. However, their former relationship with NWG placed them at risk of bankruptcy, and they were advised to leave the UK by no later than 6 April 1979, for a minimum of one year. As non-residents they would pay no UK taxes during that time, and within a month all four members and their families had left. Waters moved to Switzerland, Mason to France, and Gilmour and Wright to the Greek Islands. Some equipment from Britannia Row was relocated in Super Bear Studios near Nice.[25][40] Gilmour and Wright were each familiar with the studio and enjoyed its atmosphere, having recorded there during the production of their solo albums. While Wright and Mason lived at the studio, Waters and Gilmour stayed in nearby houses. Mason later moved into Waters's villa near Vence, while Ezrin stayed in Nice.[41]

The rest of the band's children were young enough to stay with them in France but mine were older and had to go to school. I was missing my children terribly.
Richard Wright[42]

Ezrin's poor punctuality caused problems with the tight schedule dictated by Waters.[43] Mason found the producer's behaviour "erratic", but used his elaborate and unlikely excuses for his lateness as ammunition for "tongue-in-cheek resentment".[41] Ezrin's share of the royalties was less than the rest of the band and he viewed Waters as a "bully", especially when the bassist mocked him by having badges made that read NOPE (No Points Ezrin), alluding to his lesser share of the album's royalties.[43] Ezrin later admitted that he had marital problems and was not "in the best shape emotionally".[43]

More problems became apparent when Waters's relationship with Wright broke down. The band were rarely in the studio together. Ezrin and Guthrie spliced Mason's previously recorded drum tracks together, and Guthrie also worked with Waters and Gilmour during the day, returning at night to record Wright's contributions. Wright, worried about the effect that the introduction of Ezrin would have on the band's internal relationships, was keen to have a producer's credit on the album (their albums up to that point had always stated "Produced by Pink Floyd").[44] Waters agreed to a trial period with Wright producing, after which he was to be given a producer's credit, but after a few weeks he and Ezrin expressed dissatisfaction with the keyboardist's methods. A confrontation with Ezrin led to Wright working only at nights. Gilmour also expressed his annoyance, complaining that Wright's lack of input was "driving us all mad",[45] and Ezrin later reflected: "it sometimes felt that Roger was setting him up to fail. Rick gets performance anxiety. You have to leave him alone to freeform, to create ..."[45] Wright had his own problems, a failing marriage and the onset of depression, exacerbated by his non-residency. The band's holidays were booked for August, after which they were to reconvene at Cherokee Studios in Los Angeles, but Columbia offered the band a better deal in exchange for a Christmas release of the album. Waters therefore increased the band's workload accordingly, booking time at the nearby Studio Miraval.[46] He also suggested recording in Los Angeles ten days earlier than agreed, and hiring another keyboardist to work alongside Wright, whose keyboard parts had not yet been recorded. Wright, however, refused to cut short his family holiday in Rhodes.[47]

Accounts of Wright's subsequent departure from the band differ. In his autobiography, Inside Out, Mason says that Waters called O'Rourke, who was travelling to the US on the QE2, and told him to have Wright out of the band by the time Waters arrived in LA to mix the album.[48] In another version recorded by a later historian of the band, Waters called O'Rourke and asked him to tell Wright about the new recording arrangements, to which Wright allegedly responded: "Tell Roger to fuck off ..."[42] Wright disagreed with this recollection, stating that the band had agreed to record only through the spring and early summer, and that he had no idea they were so far behind schedule. Mason later wrote that Waters was "stunned and furious",[46] and felt that Wright was not doing enough to help complete the album.[46] Gilmour was on holiday in Dublin when he learnt of Waters's ultimatum, and tried to calm the situation. He later spoke with Wright and gave him his support, but reminded him about his minimal contribution to the album.[49] Waters, however, insisted that Wright leave, or he would refuse to release The Wall. Several days later, worried about their financial situation, and the failing interpersonal relationships within the band, Wright quit. News of his departure was kept from the music press.[50] Although his name did not appear anywhere on the original album,[51][52] he was employed as a session musician on the band's subsequent The Wall tour.[53]

By August 1979 the running order was largely complete. Wright completed his duties at Cherokee Studios aided by session musicians Peter Wood and Fred Mandel, and Jeff Porcaro played drums in Mason's stead on "Mother".[52] His duties complete, Mason left the final mix to Waters, Gilmour, Ezrin and Guthrie, and travelled to New York to record his début solo album, Nick Mason's Fictitious Sports.[54] In advance of its release, technical constraints led to some changes being made to the running order and content of The Wall, with "What Shall We Do Now?" being replaced by the similar but shorter "Empty Spaces", and "Hey You" being moved from its original place at the end of side three, to the beginning. With the November 1979 deadline approaching, the band left the now-incorrect inner sleeves of the album unchanged.[55]


Mason's early drum sessions were performed in an open space on the top floor of Britannia Row Studios. The 16-track recordings from these sessions were mixed down and copied onto a 24-track master, as guide tracks for the rest of the band to play to. This gave the engineers greater flexibility,[nb 2] but also improved the audio quality of the final mix as the original 16-track drum recordings were finally synced to the 24-track master, and the duplicated guide tracks removed.[57] Ezrin later related the band's alarm at this method of working – they apparently viewed the erasure of material from the 24-track master as "witchcraft".[38]

While at Super Bear studios Waters agreed to Ezrin's suggestion that several tracks, including "Nobody Home", "The Trial" and "Comfortably Numb", should have an orchestral accompaniment. Michael Kamen, who had previously worked with David Bowie, was booked to oversee these arrangements, which were performed by musicians from the New York Philharmonic and New York Symphony Orchestras, and a choir from the New York City Opera.[58] Their sessions were recorded at CBS Studios in New York, although Pink Floyd were not present. Kamen eventually met the band once recording was complete.[59]

I think things like 'Comfortably Numb' were the last embers of mine and Roger's ability to work collaboratively together.
David Gilmour[60]

"Comfortably Numb" has its origins in Gilmour's debut solo album, and was the source of much argument between Waters and Gilmour.[25] Ezrin claimed that the song initially started life as "Roger's record, about Roger, for Roger", although he thought that it needed further work. Waters rewrote the song and added more lyrics for the chorus, but his "stripped-down and harder" recording was not to Gilmour's liking. The guitarist preferred Ezrin's "grander Technicolor, orchestral version", although Ezrin preferred Waters's version. Following a full-scale argument in a North Hollywood restaurant, the two compromised; the song's body eventually included the orchestral arrangement, with Gilmour's second and final guitar solo standing alone.[60]

Sound designEdit

Ezrin and Waters oversaw the capture of the sound effects used on the album. Waters recorded the phone call used on the original demo for "Young Lust", but neglected to inform its recipient, Mason, who assumed it was a prank call and angrily hung up.[61] The call references Waters' viewpoint of his bitter 1975 divorce from first wife Judy.[62] Waters also recorded ambient sounds along Hollywood Boulevard by hanging a microphone from a studio window. Engineer Phil Taylor recorded some of the screeching tyre noises on "Run Like Hell" from a studio car park, and a television set being destroyed was used on "One of My Turns". At Britannia Row Studios, Nick Griffiths recorded the smashing of crockery for the same song.[63] Television broadcasts were used, and one actor, recognising his voice, accepted a financial settlement from the group in lieu of legal action against them.[64]

The maniacal schoolmaster was voiced by Waters, and actress Trudy Young supplied the groupie's voice.[63] Backing vocals were performed by a range of artists, although a planned appearance by the Beach Boys on "The Show Must Go On" and "Waiting for the Worms" was cancelled by Waters, who instead settled for Beach Boy Bruce Johnston and Toni Tennille.[65] Ezrin's suggestion to release "Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2" as a single with a disco-style beat did not initially find favour with Gilmour, although Mason and Waters were more enthusiastic. Waters was opposed to the idea of releasing a single at all, but became more receptive once he listened to Ezrin and Guthrie's mix of the song. With two identical verses the song was felt to be lacking, and so a copy was sent to Griffiths in London with a request to find children to perform several versions of the lyrics.[58] Griffiths contacted Alun Renshaw, head of music at the nearby Islington Green school, who was enthusiastic about the idea, saying: "I wanted to make music relevant to the kids – not just sitting around listening to Tchaikovsky. I thought the lyrics were great – "We don't need no education, we don't need no thought control ..." I just thought it would be a wonderful experience for the kids."[66]

Griffiths first recorded small groups of pupils and then invited more in, telling them to affect a Cockney accent and shout rather than sing. He multitracked the voices, making the groups sound much larger than they were, before sending his recordings back to Los Angeles. The result was that Waters was "beaming", and the song was released, becoming a Christmas number one hit.[67] There was some controversy when the British press reported that the children had not been paid for their efforts; they were eventually given copies of the album, and the school received a £1,000 donation (£4,000 in contemporary value[17]).[68]

Artwork and packagingEdit

The album's cover art is one of Pink Floyd's most minimal – a white brick wall and no text. Waters had a falling out with Hipgnosis designer Storm Thorgerson a few years earlier when Thorgerson had included the cover of Animals in his book Walk Away Rene. The Wall is therefore the first album cover of the band since The Piper at the Gates of Dawn not to be created by the design group.[69] Issues of the album would include the now-famous handwritten lettering of the artist name and album title by cartoonist Gerald Scarfe, either as a sticker on sleeve wrapping or printed onto the cover itself, in either black or red. Scarfe, who had previously done animated segments for the band's "In the Flesh" tour, also did the LP's inside sleeve art and labels of both vinyl records of the album, showing the eponymous wall in various stages of construction, accompanied by characters from the story. The drawings would be translated into dolls for The Wall Tour, as well as into Scarfe's animated segments for the film based on the album.[70][71]

Release and receptionEdit

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic      [72]
The Daily Telegraph      [73]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music      [74]
The Great Rock Discography 9/10[74]
MusicHound Rock      [75]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide      [76]
Smash Hits 8/10[77]
Sputnikmusic      [78]
The Village Voice B−[79]
American Songwriter      [80]

When the completed album was played for an assembled group of executives at Columbia's headquarters in California, several were reportedly unimpressed by what they heard.[81] Matters had not been helped when Columbia Records offered Waters smaller publishing rights on the grounds that The Wall was a double album, a position he did not accept. When one executive offered to settle the dispute with a coin toss, Waters asked why he should gamble on something he owned. He eventually prevailed.[54] The record company's concerns were alleviated when "Another Brick in the Wall Part 2" reached number one in the UK, US, Norway, Portugal, Israel, West Germany and South Africa.[81] It was certified platinum in the UK in December 1979, and platinum in the US three months later.[82]

The Wall was released in the UK and in the US on 30 November 1979.[nb 3] Coinciding with its release, Waters was interviewed by veteran DJ Tommy Vance, who played the album in its entirety on BBC Radio 1.[69] Critical opinion of its content was mixed,[83] ranging from The Village Voice critic Robert Christgau's "a dumb tribulations-of-a-rock-star epic" backed by "kitschy minimal maximalism with sound effects and speech fragments",[79] and Rolling Stone writer Kurt Loder's "a stunning synthesis of Waters's by now familiar thematic obsessions",[84] to Melody Maker's "I'm not sure whether it's brilliant or terrible, but I find it utterly compelling."[85] Nevertheless, the album topped the Billboard charts for 15 weeks,[86] selling over a million copies in its first two months of sales[83] and in 1999 was certified 23x platinum.[nb 4][87] It remains one of the best-selling albums of all time in the US,[82][87] between 1979 and 1990 selling over 19 million copies worldwide.[88] The Wall is Pink Floyd's second best selling album after 1973's The Dark Side of the Moon. Engineer James Guthrie's efforts were rewarded in 1980 with a Grammy award for Best Engineered Recording (non-classical).[89] According to Acclaimed Music, The Wall is the 145th most ranked record on critics' all-time lists.[90] Rolling Stone placed it at number 87 on its 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list in 2003.[91]


A 1994 digitally remastered CD version manufactured in China omits "Young Lust", but retains a composition credit for Waters/Gilmour in the booklet.[92] The album was reissued in three versions as part of the Why Pink Floyd...? campaign, which featured a massive restoration of the band's catalogue with remasterings by producer James Guthrie: in 2011, a "Discovery" edition, featuring the remastered version with no extras; and in 2012, both the "Experience" edition, which adds a bonus disc of unreleased material and other supplementary items, and the "Immersion" version, a seven-disc collection that also adds video materials.[93][94] Then again, the album was reissued under the Pink Floyd Records label on 26 August 2016 along with The Division Bell.

Film, concert, and other adaptationsEdit

Waters, dressed in military attire, performing at The Wall – Live in Berlin, 1990

During each performance of the band's subsequent The Wall Tour, a 40-foot (12 m) high wall of cardboard bricks was gradually built between the band and audience. Gaps allowed the spectators to view various scenes in the story, as Scarfe's animations were projected onto the completed parts of the wall. Several characters from the story were realised as giant inflatables, including a pig, replete with a crossed hammers logo. The tour opened at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena on 7 February 1980.[95] One of its more notable elements was the band's performance of "Comfortably Numb". While Waters sang his opening verse in front of the wall, Gilmour waited in darkness at the top of the wall, for his cue. When it came, bright blue and white lights would suddenly illuminate him, astonishing the audience. Gilmour stood on a flight case on casters, held steady by a technician, both precariously balanced atop a tall hydraulic platform.[96] At the end of the concert, the wall was made to collapse, once again revealing the band.[97] Along with the songs in the album, the tour featured an instrumental medley, "The Last Few Bricks", which was played before "Goodbye Cruel World" to allow the construction crew to complete the scenographic wall.[98]

Scarfe was employed to produce a series of animations for The Wall. At his studio in London he employed a team of 40 animators to create a series of nightmarish visions of the future, including a dove of peace exploding to reveal an eagle, a schoolmaster, and Pink's mother.[99] During the tour, relationships within the band were at an all-time low; four Winnebagos were parked in a circle, with the doors facing away from the centre. Waters remained isolated, using his own vehicle to arrive at the venue, and stayed in separate hotels from the rest of the band. Wright, returning to perform his duties as a salaried musician, was the only member of the band to profit from the venture, which lost about £400,000.[53]

Scarfe's animations were also to have been used in the film based on the album, accompanied by live concert footage, but the latter proved too impractical to film. Alan Parker agreed to direct the film that bandmate[100] Roger Waters had written, which kept the animated sequences but also used professional actors in each scene, with no dialogue. Bob Geldof took the role of Pink. A modified soundtrack was also created for some of the film's songs.[101] Pink Floyd The Wall was released in July 1982.[38]

In 1990 Waters and producer Tony Hollingsworth created The Wall – Live in Berlin, staged for charity at a site once occupied by part of the Berlin Wall.[102] Beginning in 2010[103] and with dates lasting into 2013, Waters performed the album worldwide on his tour, The Wall Live.[104] This had a much wider wall, updated higher quality projected content and leading-edge projection technology. Gilmour and Mason played at one show in London at The O2.[105] A film of the live concert, titled Roger Waters: The Wall, was released in 2015.

In 2016, Roger Waters began adapting The Wall into an opera called Another Brick in the Wall: The Opera with contemporary classical composer Julien Bilodeau. It premiered at Opéra de Montréal in March 2017, and will be produced by Cincinnati Opera in the summer of 2018. [106] It is orchestrated for a score of eight soloists, 48 chorus members, and a standard 70-piece operatic orchestra.[107]

Track listingEdit

All tracks written by Roger Waters, except where noted.

Side one
No. Title Lead vocals Length
1. "In the Flesh?" Waters 3:16
2. "The Thin Ice"
  • Waters
  • Gilmour
3. "Another Brick in the Wall (Part 1)" Waters 3:21
4. "The Happiest Days of Our Lives" Waters 1:46
5. "Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2)"
  • Waters
  • Gilmour
6. "Mother"
  • Waters
  • Gilmour
Total length: 20:21
Side two
No. Title Lead vocals Length
1. "Goodbye Blue Sky" Gilmour 2:45
2. "Empty Spaces" Waters 2:10
3. "Young Lust" (writers: Waters, Gilmour) Gilmour 3:25
4. "One of My Turns" Waters 3:41
5. "Don't Leave Me Now" Waters 4:08
6. "Another Brick in the Wall (Part 3)" Waters 1:48
7. "Goodbye Cruel World" Waters 0:48
Total length: 18:45
Side three
No. Title Lead vocals Length
1. "Hey You"
  • Gilmour
  • Waters
2. "Is There Anybody Out There?"
  • Waters
  • Gilmour
3. "Nobody Home" Waters 3:26
4. "Vera" Waters 1:35
5. "Bring the Boys Back Home" Waters 1:21
6. "Comfortably Numb" (writers: Gilmour, Waters)
  • Gilmour
  • Waters
Total length: 20:09
Side four
No. Title Lead vocals Length
1. "The Show Must Go On" Gilmour 1:36
2. "In the Flesh" Waters 4:15
3. "Run Like Hell" (writers: Waters, Gilmour)
  • Waters
  • Gilmour
4. "Waiting for the Worms"
  • Waters
  • Gilmour
5. "Stop" Waters 0:30
6. "The Trial" (writers: Waters, Ezrin) Waters 5:13
7. "Outside the Wall" Waters 1:41
Total length: 21:39


Pink Floyd[108]

Additional musicians

  • Bruce Johnston – backing vocals[109]
  • Toni Tennille – backing vocals
  • Joe Chemay – backing vocals
  • Jon Joyce – backing vocals
  • Stan Farber – backing vocals
  • Jim Haas – backing vocals
  • Bob Ezrin – piano, Hammond organ, synthesizers, reed organ, backing vocals
  • James Guthrie – percussion; synthesizer; sound effects
  • Jeff Porcaro – drums on "Mother"
  • Children of Islington Green School – vocals on "Another Brick in the Wall Part II"
  • Joe Porcaro, Blue Ocean & 34 others[110] – snare drums on "Bring the Boys Back Home"
  • Lee Ritenour – rhythm guitar on "One of My Turns", additional acoustic guitar on "Comfortably Numb"
  • Joe (Ron) di Blasi – classical guitar on "Is There Anybody Out There?"
  • Fred Mandel – Hammond organ on "In The Flesh?" and "In the Flesh"
  • Bobbye Hall – congas; bongos on "Run Like Hell"
  • Frank Marrocco – concertina on "Outside the Wall"
  • Larry Williams – clarinet on "Outside the Wall"
  • Trevor Veitch – mandolin on "Outside the Wall"
  • New York Orchestra – orchestra
  • New York Opera – choral vocals
  • Vicki Brown and Clare Torry (credited simply as "Vicki & Clare") – backing vocals
  • Harry Waters – child's voice on "Goodbye Blue Sky"
  • Chris Fitzmorris – male telephone voice
  • Trudy Young – voice of the groupie
  • Phil Taylor – sound effects


  • David Gilmour – co-producer
  • Roger Waters – co-producer
  • Bob Ezrin – production, orchestral arrangement, music on "The Trial"
  • Michael Kamen – orchestral arrangement
  • James Guthrie – co-producer, engineer
  • Nick Griffiths – engineer
  • Patrice Quef – engineer
  • Brian Christian – engineer
  • Rick Hart – engineer
  • Doug Sax – mastering
  • John McClure - engineer
  • Phil Taylor – sound equipment
  • Gerald Scarfe – sleeve design
  • Roger Waters – sleeve design
  • Joel Plantes – mastering[109]



Chart (1979–80) Peak
Australia (Kent Music Report)[111] 1
Austrian Albums (Ö3 Austria)[112] 1
Canada Top Albums/CDs (RPM)[113] 1
Dutch Albums (MegaCharts)[114] 1
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)[115] 1
New Zealand Albums (RMNZ)[116] 1
Norwegian Albums (VG-lista)[117] 1
Spanish Albums (AFE)[118] 1
Swedish Albums (Sverigetopplistan)[119] 1
UK Albums (OCC)[120] 3
US Billboard 200[121] 1
Chart (1990) Peak
Dutch Albums (MegaCharts)[122] 19
Chart (2005–06) Peak
Austrian Albums (Ö3 Austria)[123] 11
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Flanders)[124] 85
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Wallonia)[125] 81
Danish Albums (Hitlisten)[126] 19
Finnish Albums (Suomen virallinen lista)[127] 21
Italian Albums (FIMI)[128] 13
Spanish Albums (PROMUSICAE)[129] 9
Swiss Albums (Schweizer Hitparade)[130] 29
Chart (2011–12) Peak
Australian Albums (ARIA)[131] 20
Austrian Albums (Ö3 Austria)[132] 15
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Flanders)[133] 44
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Wallonia)[134] 20
Czech Albums (ČNS IFPI)[135] 7
Danish Albums (Hitlisten)[136] 10
Dutch Albums (MegaCharts)[137] 15
Finnish Albums (Suomen virallinen lista)[138] 17
French Albums (SNEP)[139] 12
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)[115] 4
Irish Albums (IRMA)[140] 38
Italian Albums (FIMI)[141] 4
New Zealand Albums (RMNZ)[142] 14
Norwegian Albums (VG-lista)[143] 10
Polish Albums (ZPAV)[144] 11
Portuguese Albums (AFP)[145] 10
Spanish Albums (PROMUSICAE)[146] 15
Swedish Albums (Sverigetopplistan)[147] 13
Swiss Albums (Schweizer Hitparade)[148] 8
UK Albums (OCC)[149] 22
US Billboard 200[150] 17


Date Single Chart Position Source
23 November 1979 "Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2)" UK Top 40 1 [nb 5][151]
7 January 1980 "Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2)" US Billboard Pop Singles 1 [nb 6][82]
9 June 1980 "Run Like Hell" US Billboard Pop Singles 53 [nb 7][82]
March 1980 "Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2)" Norway's single chart 1 [152]

Selected album salesEdit

Country Certification Sales Last certification date Comment Source(s)
Argentina Platinum 200,000 23 August 1999 [153]
Australia 11× Platinum 770,000 2011 [154]
Canada 2× Diamond 1,000,000 31 August 1995 [155]
France Diamond 1,576,100 1991 [156]
Germany 4× Platinum 2,000,000 1994 [157]
Greece 100,000 [158]
Italy Platinum 100,000 September 2011 [159]
New Zealand RMNZ 14× Platinum 210,000 29 January 2011 [160]
Poland Platinum 100,000 29 October 2003 [161][162]
Spain Platinum 100,000 1980 [163]
United Kingdom 2x Platinum 600,000 22 July 2013 [164]
United States RIAA 23× Platinum 11,500,000 29 January 1999 8× Platinum on 28 May 1991 [165]
United States Soundscan   5,381,000 29 August 2008 Since March 1991 – August 2008 [166][167]



  1. ^ Pink Floyd eventually sued NWG for £1 million, accusing them of fraud and negligence. NWG collapsed in 1981. Andrew Warburg fled to Spain, Norton Warburg Investments (a part of NWG) was renamed to Waterbrook, and many of its holdings were sold at a loss. Andrew Warburg was jailed for three years upon his return to the UK in 1987.[19]
  2. ^ As well as being more flexible, repeated replay of magnetic tape can, over time, reduce the quality of the recorded material.
  3. ^ EMI Harvest SHVL 822 (double album)[82]
  4. ^ As a double album 23x platinum signifies sales of 11.5 million.
  5. ^ EMI Harvest HAR 5194 (7" single)
  6. ^ Columbia 1-11187 (7" single)
  7. ^ Columbia 1-11265 (7" single)


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Further reading

  • Di Perna, Alan (2002), Guitar World Presents Pink Floyd, Milwaukee: Hal Leonard Corporation, ISBN 978-0-634-03286-8 
  • Fitch, Vernon (2001), Pink Floyd: The Press Reports 1966–1983, Ontario: Collector's Guide Publishing Inc, ISBN 978-1-896522-72-2 
  • Fricke, David (December 2009), "Roger Waters: Welcome to My Nightmare ... Behind The Wall", Mojo, London: Emap Metro, 193: 68–84 
  • Hiatt, Brian (September 2010), "Back to The Wall", Rolling Stone, 1114: 50–57 
  • MacDonald, Bruno (1997), Pink Floyd: through the eyes of ... the band, its fans, friends, and foes, New York: Da Capo Press, ISBN 978-0-306-80780-0 
  • Mabbett, Andy (2010), Pink Floyd The Music and the Mystery, London: Omnibus Press, ISBN 978-1-84938-370-7 

External linksEdit