READERS’ LETTERS: Did Roger Waters fire Richard Wright from Pink Floyd?

MDM writes:

Technically, no. Waters presented the band with an ultimatum, that either Wright voluntarily leaves Pink Floyd or The Wall will never be completed.

I suppose, the other band members could have declined the drastic measure, but they knew that Waters was right and Wright, who had been going through a lot of personal problems and he had given up on making any meaningful contribution to the band. Then, after Richard Wright had missed several recording sessions, and he appeared to be somewhat apathetic about anything Pink Floyd was doing, both Waters and Gilmour knew that the band would have to move on from Richard Wright.

Ironically, Wright would stay on as an “independent contractor” for The Wall Tour as well as the Momentary Lapse of Reason tour, before eventually being invited back into the band as a member.

ADAM B writes:

In 1974 Pink Floyd convened to Abbey Road Studios to start recording a follow up LP to “The Dark Side of the Moon”. After a couple of failed experiments (i.e. “Household Objects”) the songs that ended up on “Wish You Were Here” began to take shape. However…

Rick Wright and Nick Mason were doing large amounts of drugs and contributing nearly nothing artistically. Roger Waters and David Gilmour were actively considering firing BOTH of them. Waters has gone on record as stating that the band themselves called it the “Wish WE Were Here” sessions. But eventually through sheer willpower Mason and Wright rose to the occasion and delivered Floyd’s last full group masterpiece.

By “Animals” Mason's problems had lessened while Wright's grew worse-more drugs and a divorce. And he no longer wrote music for Floyd. He played very well on the LP but had no personal connection with the music. Then…

Serious money issues (they were ripped off mercilessly by their accounting firm) forced Floyd into tax exile. Wright ended up living on a houseboat on the Mediterranean Sea (off the coast of Greece) making it very hard to get in contact with him. Floyd needed SERIOUS amounts of cash in a huge hurry. A new album and tour was needed quickly. As it happened…

Waters already had two projects in the works-”The Wall” and “The Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking”-in demo form, as potential solo albums. As an easy way out of their money problems he offered either project to the group for immediate recording and release. Gilmour deemed “Pros and Cons” unlistenable and unworkable. “The Wall” he deemed unlistenable but far more conceptually interesting and was willing to put work into it so as to make it a proper Pink Floyd LP. Mason was unimpressed with the material but realized that they really needed the money and did his best. (He does not play on some of the songs on “The Wall”.) Wright had to be tracked down. When they finally got a hold of him he stated he was in no way ready or willing to make another album or undertake another tour. The band and management explained the legal issues facing everybody included him as well and so, with gritted teeth, Wright returned to the studio…and played very little and very poorly, dragging the process down to a slow grind…and the band was on a really tight schedule. Something had to give…

Waters used the opportunity to leverage Wright out of the group (with complicit, albeit silent, agreement from Gilmour). He told Wright that either he should quit the group or the LP wouldn't be released-Waters would hold it back-thus leaving Wright (and the rest of the band and associates) in a very difficult legal and financial situation.

Creatively and physically exhausted, Wright didn't fight it and left Pink Floyd willingly.

MASSIVE IRONY: “The Wall” tour actually had all four Floyd “members” playing at every show but because of stated financial issues only the hired musicians were being paid. Since Wright was ousted from the band during the recording and rehired as an “extra” musician for the tour he was the ONLY “member” of Pink Floyd being paid to play “The Wall” on stage.