At the height of their career, progressive rock band Pink Floyd released their most ambitious project in 1979. After concept records like “The Dark Side of the Moon” and “Wish You Were Here,” Pink Floyd turned their aspirations to rock opera or an album that tells a story the whole way through. That album was “The Wall.” The album tells the story of a rocker named Pink who, as a result of childhood abuse, a grueling tour and his wife’s infidelity, puts up a metaphorical wall to block himself from humanity.
“The Wall” was the brainchild of bassist Roger Waters who first started to come up with ideas for the album on the 1977 “In The Flesh” tour which promoted the album “Animals.” During this tour, crowds would sometimes grow restless and Waters grew increasingly upset to the point where he spat at rude concert goers on the final show of the tour. As a result of this division, Waters came up with the concept and most of the lyrics for the album.
Production wasn’t the easiest time for the band as Waters began to overshadow the group more and more with his ideas for the album. Tensions resulted in keyboard player Rick Wright leaving the group after the album’s recording although he would return for “The Wall” tour as a salaried musicians and would rejoin the band after Waters left in 1985. However, the album was finished with many good tracks on the double LP record. These included the U.S.A. chart topper “Another Brick In The Wall Part 2,” “Run Like Hell,” “In The Flesh” and the masterpiece “Comfortably Numb.” The album itself topped the U.S.A. album charts and reached number three on the U.K. charts.
After the album charted and created a good deal of money for the band, a tour was planned with only 31 shows over the course of a year and a half in four locations; Los Angeles, New York City, London and Dortmund. However, these shows were the stuff of rock legends with tens of thousands of people per show, large puppets and cartoons by Gerald Scarfe and a gigantic 40 foot wall which was constructed and knocked down over the course of the entire show. This show has since been recreated twice with tours in 1990 and 2010 by Roger Waters during his solo career with a documentary about the tour being made in 2014.
In 1982, a year after the tour concluded, a film adaptation was made with Boomtown Rats frontman Bob Geldof portraying Pink. The film brought to life the plot of the album while also creating abstract imagery and bringing to life iconic songs including “Another Brick In The Wall Part 2” where students rebel against their teachers. The film made 22 million dollars against a 12 million dollar budget and remains a cult favorite.
Whether it’s the album, live or the film, “The Wall” is a staple of popular culture thanks to Pink Floyd’s amazing lyrics matched with iconic instrumentals. It’s a piece of art that should be examined like Michelangelo’s David or Da Vinci’s Last Supper.