True Friends Never Leave The Band
By Geoff Gonzalez
An audible sigh emanated from the break room. "Yes, Roger?" came the low, oily British voice.
"Get back in here; we haven't got the time for more of your shenanigans."
Another sigh; David was obviously in another one of his moods again.
"Rog, we've been recording for six hours; can't I just take another break?"
"You've been on break since seven, you knob!" Roger snapped as Nick and Richard began to smile behind him. "Get out here and do some work; we haven't the time for more smokes."
The three heard a sort of clattering noise from behind the break room window as they watched the long haired, half-naked David Gilmour slowly rise from the couch and stumble out of view. He reappeared a few seconds later wearing his usual tan T-shirt and loose jeans, but he had forgotten his shoes and was walking around barefooted. With a disgusted look at the band, he sat in front of the mirror, grabbed his hairbrush (Roger NEVER let him touch his), and deliberately stroked his hair slowly, paying particular detail to every part of his hair as he pulled it through. Nick Mason was practically rolling across his drums laughing and even the stern and serious Richard Wright cracked a small smile. Watching David and Roger fight throughout the tour had become a sort of a game for the drummer and keyboardist.
Roger Waters, however, had no more patience for the guitarist.
"Why can't you be more like Richard or Nick? Hell, I'd take Syd over you right now; you always have to be doing SOMETHING or NOTHING 'TALL. The van leaves at midnight, David; we have to get this song finished."
David just smiled at him as he defiantly continued to brush. "I've always wanted to take Syd over you. He had better hair."
Roger's cheeks flushed with anger as he instinctively felt his long black hair with his hands.
"Now that's across the line." Richard whispered to Nick, who both snickered behind him.
"Got something to say, Rick?!" Roger yelled, obviously hurt by David's words.
Richard merely smiled and tossed back his hair, looking up and away from everyone. Roger ignored him and turned to face the smirking Gilmour.
"Look here, Dave; one more crack out of you and I'll leave you in Surry without so much as a pair of blinkin' trousers."
"Wouldn't be the first time..." David mused quietly as he looked at the floor. Roger had left him in Surry more than once during the '73 tour, and two years had only ever worn away at their frail relationship.
"Oh, shut it, Dave." Roger said, "We have things to do."
"Don't call me Dave," David snapped as he reached for his Fender. "Which one we on?"
"Just getting tuned up for 'Dogs".
"Mmph..." David muttered as he expertly screwed the knobs on his guitar back and forth, searching for the perfect pitch on each string of his precious guitar.
While David and Roger tuned up for the big song, Nick called Richard over to his place behind the drums. Richard was very shy and quiet compared to the other members, but he liked talking to the guys; he even acted as a mediator between David and Roger when they fought sometimes.
"You 'lright there, Nick?" Richard whispered to the mustached drummer.
"Yeah," Nick said, "I'm good, Rick. I just can't stand watching the two of them fight constantly. They used to be really good friends."
"Well, that was just before Wish You Were Here. Everything seems to have changed after that. I don't think Roger ever forgave David for replacing Syd."
"Mmm," Nick muttered as he nodded his head in assent, "It's all just been down the loo around here recently. Can't even practice without another bloody fight...can't you talk to them?"
The keyboardist shook his head as he stared at the ground, his distinguishingly thick black eyebrows crossed in thought and worry. "I've tried everything; there's just too much competition here and one of them is going to go eventually."
"I hope not."
"It's almost a sure thing at this point, Nick."
"Yeah..." Nick said as he absent-mindedly rattled his snare. Richard could see that he was no longer making any progress with Nick; he had never been known for his people skills.
"Just cheer up, Nick. We'll be alright. Everything will be back to normal in no time 'tall."
"It's just...I just don't want what we have now to go away, Rick. I mean, after Syd left, it was just the four of us and we've been fantastic since then, but what would happen if Roger left? Or David? Or both? There would be no more Animals; there would be no more Wish You Were Here's; there wouldn't be anything left if either one of them left. As much as they hate to admit it, they need each other; their differences are what made this band what it was and it's an amazing thing. I don't want to give this up, Rick."
Richard gave him a comforting pat on the shoulder. "We aren't breaking up the band, Nick. They may be foolish at times, but they aren't fools; they wouldn't let something as legendary and profitable as Pink Floyd drive itself into the dust. I'll talk to David later and see how it goes." Catching Roger's glaring eye as he turned around, he jumped out from behind the drums and walked calmly back to his keyboard, leaving the drummer to muse over his words.
Four and a half hours later, the band was all piled in the van and on their way down the road. They had an all-night trip, so they had the band van outfitted with beds. Roger lay on the bed at the front; David on the one near the back doors; and the other two taking the side beds.
Roger and Nick had long since been asleep; they were usually out before David and Richard. Waters always referred to it as his "inspirational time", so he made it a point to be asleep before all of the band members. But as Richard lay awake in bed that night, he crawled over to the edge of his mat to where Gilmour was quietly resting with his eyes at the ceiling.
"You can't sleep either?" David whispered quietly as he continued to stare. Richard thanked his good fortune; he never liked starting conversations.
"No, just sittin' here breathing." He said in reply. He was unsure of what to say to David, though, so they just laid there together for a while, looking up at the car roof and listening to the soft roar of the engine. He had so many questions on his mind about the band's future, but he was always too quiet and shy to ask them.
David Gilmour, however, knew Richard better than he knew himself.
"Do you ever wonder what would happen if it was just the three of us? Just you, me and Nick?"
The question caught Richard completely off guard; he had no idea anybody outside of him and Nick feared for the band's future. To the public, the producers, the agents, the songwriters, the backup artists, even to their own families, David and Roger still seemed to be the closest of friends.
"Well, sometimes; you guys certainly have been scrumming quite a lot lately. Me and Nick always laugh at you guys because it's great to watch, but yes, I do get worried sometimes."
The long-haired guitarist drew a deep, heavy sigh. "Yeah...me too, Rick."
Richard wasn't about to let a conversation like this die though; he was shy but not unintelligent. "I thought you and Rog were close mates, though."
David sat up straight on his cot and rubbed his eyes. Richard knew he was in for it now.
"I was always Roger's friend; I was there for him ever since Syd left and left him in charge of us. I've been nothing but friendly to him for years, and yet he calls me a knob and a louse and so many other things like I'm too weak to compare to him. Whenever we write our songs, he wants everything to be about him; for it to be HIS music, not OURS. He wants to be everything. Sometimes, it just seems like he'd be happier if he was off by himself than here with us." He slumped back against the rail of his bed, letting his long brown hair obscure his face as he closed his eyes.
Richard sat quietly in the darkness of the back of the van. He watched David rub his eyes and put his hands behind his head, slightly revealing a deep, contoured chest and a thick set of abs from underneath the covers. Gilmour's body was stressed from the tour as usual, but his mind no longer seemed to be at ease either with Roger still around. He was sick of the fighting, that much Richard could tell, but he really didn't know what to tell him that would cheer him up. Still, he decided to give it a try.
"Richard," David said sternly, "I've told you all before; don't call me Dave."
Richard flinched. Roger only called him Dave to mess with him, but he had actually forgotten David telling him that. It was things like this that made him want to lay back down and let the guitarist deal with his own social problems, but that wasn't who he was.
"Look here," he said with all the courage he could muster, "Roger's become nothing but a bully to all of us; he really does seem like he wants to be on his own and make his own fortunes and sometimes I wonder if it'd be best if he left too. But David, even if Roger left and went somewhere else on his own without us, I'd still never leave. What you've done for us since Syd left has been incredible and you are only ever nice to me and Nick and I really appreciate that. Roger never liked me...he doesn't want me here..." he said sadly as he looked down and away.
Gilmour crawled over and gave Wright a friendly slap on the back. "Come on, mate; don't let it bother you. Roger's mean to you and me, but if you stay, I promise to be your friend and to help you out. True friends never leave the band."
Richard looked up at the bigger man next to him. "Thanks; that means a lot."
"Hey, don't mention it. Just keep your block clear and you'll be okay." David crawled back to his cot and got under the covers. "Goodnight, Rick"
"Goodnight, Dave..." he stopped himself as Gilmour raised an eyebrow at him. "David"
The guitarist smiled. "Goodnight".
Little did either of them know that Roger had been listening the entire time.
When Roger Waters started to create Pink Floyd's legendary album, The Wall, he got so fed up and tired of Richard defending Gilmour and being a "nuisance" in the band, that he forced the poor keyboardist to resign from the band. Waters was even quoted saying that he would end the band unless Wright left.
Richard left the band, but still played at the concerts as a musician, always making sure to stay close to David and Nick whenever Roger came by. He worked on solo projects and tied starting bands, but none of them were very successful; he usually liked to stay close to his former bandmates. When Waters left after The Final Cut, he came back to the band, signing his contract as a salaried musician rather than an actual band member so he could make more money off the gigs. However, the record company insisted on him not being counted as a part of the actual band and was discounted. He eventually became fully reinstated at Gilmour's request and helped to create Pink Floyd's last album, The Division Bell. In 2005, the four got back together and did a charity concert together, but it would be the last time Richard would get to see Roger, David, and Nick next to him onstage. He died of cancer in 2008 at age 65.
Through all of these years, David Gilmour never left him; he encouraged him to stay as a musician when Roger kicked him out, he invited him back when Waters left, and he always stayed very close to the young keyboardist who had comforted him that one night in 1978.
"Like Rick, I don't find it easy to express my feelings in words, but very simply, I loved him. He was my musical partner and my friend.
No one will ever replace Richard Wright."