The Song Pink Floyd Members Performed Live Except For Roger Waters
Whenever a debut single becomes successful, the fans of that band naturally want to see their favorite band perform it live. Unfortunately for Pink Floyd fans, they never got the opportunity to hear the band’s very first song entitled ‘Arnold Layne’ performed by the entire lineup.
While three band members played the song live only once, Roger Waters claimed that ‘Arnold Layne’ didn’t fit into their performances; therefore, they wouldn’t play it at all. To his surprise, he ended up being the only member who didn’t play the song live, and we’re here to break down the story.
Roger Waters Explained The Reason For Not Playing ‘Arnold Layne’
Written by Syd Barrett, ‘Arnold Layne‘ was released as the debut single of Pink Floyd on March 10, 1967. The song’s title peculiarly drew inspiration from some students who stole women’s clothes and undergarments from washing lines, a story that Waters and Barrett heard from their mothers.
Many years after its release, Roger Waters reflected on the song during an interview in 1995. The musician said that the band didn’t perform that track and ‘See Emily Play‘ live even though they were both hits. He explained this by saying that playing three-minute-long songs for live performances didn’t suit the band’s aesthetic and required way longer tracks than these.
About their reason not to play these songs, Waters said:
“‘Arnold Layne’ and ‘See Emily Play’ were both sort of minor hits. We would not perform them live because we considered this three-minute form to be irrelevant to the idea of live performances. So, we did a lot of firm gigs where people would stand on the balcony and pour beer on us because we wouldn’t play.”
Their insistence on not playing their very first hit caused Pink Floyd quite the trouble with their fans who wanted to hear ‘Arnold Layne.’ While they were determined not to play the song for decades despite having fans pour beer on their heads, Waters himself was the only member who stuck with this plan.
Pink Floyd Performed The Song Without Roger Waters
David Gilmour unexpectedly added the song to the setlist near the end of his solo tour promoting his third solo studio album ‘On an Island,’ on a show of April 17, 2006, at the Oakland Paramount Theatre. This version of the song was sung by Richard Wright and remained on the setlist until May 31.
Two live recordings of ‘Arnold Layne’ from Gilmour’s shows at the Royal Albert Hall were released as live singles on December 26, 2006. Both versions are featured on the musician’s live concert record entitled ‘Remember That Night,’ one version featuring David Bowie on lead vocals.
On May 10, 2007, a concert saw other Pink Floyd members performing ‘Arnold Layne.’ Gilmour, Mason, and Wright performed the song during a tribute show for Syd Barrett at The Barbican, London. At the show’s end, they were introduced as surprise guests, and Wright sang his band’s first single one final time. This marked the end of Pink Floyd’s live performances and left Roger Waters as the only member who didn’t perform the song.
You can listen to ‘Arnold Layne’ and watch the interview below.