How Bob Geldof managed unlikely reunion of Pink Floyd: ‘I was gobsmacked!’

Pink Floyd will be celebrating 40 years since its hit 1979 The Wall was released today. The song has been credited with cementing the band’s fame and initiating its downfall, the bandmates differences coming to light after the album’s publication. In 1985, Roger walked out of the band, and then attempted to sue the remaining members for continuing to perform under the title of Pink Floyd. While the group won the legal battle, the hostility between the former bandmates remained for several decades. Then in 2005, former frontman of the Boomtown Rats Sir Bob decided he wanted the band to perform for his Live 8 gigs – a series of benefit concerts that aimed to raise money for world poverty.

Unexpectedly, Pink Floyd agreed and took part in the concert in London’s Hyde Park in July 2005 to the delight of their supporters.

In a 2015 interview with music magazine Louder Sound, the bandmates explained how Sir Bob had encouraged them all to partake.

Pink Floyd’s singer and guitarist David Gilmour explained: “Geldof rang and asked if I would do Live 8 with Pink Floyd. He didn’t mention Roger, he just said, “Will you put Pink Floyd back together to do f****** Live 8?”

“I said, ‘No. I’m in the middle of my solo album.’ He said, ‘I’ll come down and see yer,’ and jumped on a train.

Sir Bob Geldof and Pink Floyd

Sir Bob Geldof and Pink Floyd (Image: Getty)

Pink Floyd reunited in 2005 for Live 8

Pink Floyd reunited in 2005 for Live 8 (Image: Getty)

“I thought, ‘No, no, no.’ When I rang him on his mobile he was at East Croydon. I said, ‘Bob, there’s no point, get off the train.’

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“He said, ‘I’m coming down anyway.’”

The Pink Floyd guitarist apparently continued to resist Sir Bob’s attempts at persuasion, so Sir Bob tried to convince the other band members. Drummer Nick Mason immediately thought it was a “great idea”.

Singer and bassist Roger, who had arguably been the most controversial figure within the band, said yes immediately and then rang David – a “surprising” turn of events according to the former guitarist, due to their famous fall-out in the Eighties.

As Roger later commented, the two of them just did not have much in common: “Everything after Dark Side of the Moon [1973] was very difficult. Dave and I just didn’t have much in common, philosophically, musically, politically, emotionally.”

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Sir Bob organised the 2005 Live Aid concerts

Sir Bob organised the 2005 Live Aid concerts (Image: Getty)

After Roger left the band in 1983 and attempted to sue his former bandmates, David openly described him as a “p****”.

Yet, in the lead-up to Live8, Roger somehow convinced David to join him and the rest of the band in a reunion performance. He phoned the band’s occasional touring guitarist Tim Renwick and said to him they were doing Live8 and “it will be real laugh” with Roger.

Tim said: “I was completely gobsmacked, as I’d never imagined it. But I always thought it was wrong that Roger left and they never played together again. “

According to David, it said that it was positive cause of the gig which helped to motivate him, as he wanted to do “everything I can to persuade the G-8 leaders to make huge commitments to the relief go poverty”.

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He added: “Any squabbles Roger and the band have had in the past are so petty in this context, and if re-forming for this concert will help focus attention then it’s going to be worthwhile.”

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Roger Waters left the band in 1985

Roger Waters left the band in 1985 (Image: Getty)

Waters and Gilmour when they were both in the band

Waters and Gilmour when they were both in the band (Image: Getty)

nitially, it appeared to go well. However, Roger did reportedly cause some upset within the band, as he arrived at least an hour late every day, and “make wild suggestions about rearranging things”, according to support guitarist Tim. He added that Roger’s determination to do things “his way” dampened the mood significantly.

David concluded: “The rehearsals convinced me it wasn’t something I wanted to be doing a lot of.”

However, their performance was deemed a great success, and onstage Roger made a positive and enthusiastic announcement which seemed to show their disputes had been put behind them: “It’s actually quite emotional, standing up here with these there guys after all these years standing to be counted with the rest of you. Anyway, we’re doing this for everyone who’s not here and particularly of course for Syd.”

Syd Barrett was the original frontman of the band when it was set up in 1965. However, his heavy drug use meant he was ousted from Pink Floyd in 1968, and David was brought in as his replacement.

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After the Live8 performance, David said: “Hatred and bitterness are very negative things, it felt very good to have put all that into perspective and rounded it off nicely.”

The group in the Sixties before David Gilmour joined

The group in the Sixties before David Gilmour joined (Image: Getty)

HMV even stated the band’s sales had increased 13-fold as a result of the performance.

As David explained: “It’s a powerful thing, this old Pink Floyd business. Look at all the stories that followed Live 8 – will they get back together? Will they tour together? It’s all so mysterious.”

Still, it was not enough to fix their friendships completely. Roger said he was “not in the mood” for a world tour.

David added: “The Live 8 thing was great, but it was closure. It was like sleeping with your ex-wife. There’s no future for Pink Floyd.”

David and Roger did reunite briefly for a Hoping Foundation Gig in 2010, and then again in 2011 alongside Nick for Roger’s Wall concert.

But, as Keith Chadwick revealed in 2005 in The Independent, Pink Floyd’s Live 8 reunion was seen by many as Sir Bob’s “miracle”.


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