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The Wall

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The Wall
An image of a plain white brick wall.
Original cover. Black or red text reading "Pink Floyd The Wall" was stickered on top of original physical releases.
Studio album by
Pink Floyd
Released30 November 1979 (1979-11-30)
RecordedDecember 1978 – November 1979
Pink Floyd chronology
The Wall
A Collection of Great Dance Songs
Singles from The Wall
  1. "Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2"
    Released: 23 November 1979
  2. "Run Like Hell"
    Released: 17 April 1980
  3. "Comfortably Numb"
    Released: 23 June 1980

The Wall is the eleventh studio album by the English rock band Pink Floyd, released on 30 November 1979 by Harvest and Columbia Records. It is a rock opera that explores Pink, a jaded rock star whose eventual self-imposed isolation from society forms a figurative wall. The album was a commercial success, topping the US charts for 15 weeks and reaching number three in the UK. It initially received mixed reviews from critics, many of whom found it overblown and pretentious, but later received accolades as one of the greatest albums of all time and one of the band's finest works.

Bassist Roger Waters conceived The Wall during Pink Floyd's 1977 In The Flesh tour, modelling the character of Pink after himself and former bandmate Syd Barrett. Recording spanned from December 1978 to November 1979. Producer Bob Ezrin helped to refine the concept and bridge tensions during recording, as the band were struggling with personal and financial issues at the time. The Wall was the last album to feature Pink Floyd as a quartet; keyboardist Richard Wright was fired by Waters during production but stayed on as a salaried musician.

Three singles were issued from the album: "Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2" (Pink Floyd's only UK and US number-one single), "Run Like Hell", and "Comfortably Numb". From 1980 to 1981, Pink Floyd performed the full album on a tour that featured elaborate theatrical effects. In 1982, The Wall was adapted into a feature film for which Waters wrote the screenplay.

The Wall is one of the best-known concept albums.[4] With over 30 million copies sold, it is the second best-selling album in the band's catalogue (behind The Dark Side of the Moon) and one of the best-selling albums of all time.[5] Some of the outtakes from the recording sessions were used on the group's next album, The Final Cut (1983). In 2000, it was voted number 30 in Colin Larkin's All Time Top 1000 Albums.[6] In 2003, 2012, and 2020, it was included in Rolling Stone's lists of the greatest albums of all time.[7] From 2010 to 2013, Waters staged a new Wall live tour that became the highest-grossing tour by a solo musician.


In 1977, Pink Floyd played the In the Flesh Tour, their first playing in stadiums. Bassist and singer-songwriter Roger Waters despised the experience, feeling the audience was not listening and that many were too far away to see the band. He said: "It became a social event rather than a more controlled and ordinary relationship between musicians and an audience."[8] Some audience members set off firecrackers, leading Waters to stop playing and scold them. In July 1977, on the final date at the Montreal Olympic Stadium, a group of noisy and excited fans near the stage irritated Waters so much that he spat on one of them.[9]

Guitarist and singer-songwriter David Gilmour refused to perform a final encore and sat at the soundboard,[10] leaving the band, with backup guitarist Snowy White, to improvise a slow, sad 12-bar blues, which Waters announced to the audience as "some music to go home to".[11][12] That night, Waters spoke with producer Bob Ezrin and Ezrin's psychiatrist friend about the alienation and despair he was experiencing, and he articulated his desire to isolate himself by constructing a wall across the stage between the performers—himself, along with the rest of the band—and the audience.[13]

While Gilmour and Wright were in France recording solo albums, and drummer Nick Mason was busy producing Steve Hillage's Green, Waters began to write material.[14] The spitting incident became the starting point for a new concept, which explored the protagonist's self-imposed isolation after years of traumatic interactions with authority figures and the loss of his father as a child.[12]

In July 1978, Pink Floyd reconvened at Britannia Row Studios, where Waters presented two new ideas for concept albums. The first was a 90-minute demo with the working title Bricks in the Wall.[15] The second was about a man's dreams across one night, and dealt with marriage, sex, and the pros and cons of monogamy and family life versus promiscuity.[16] The band chose the first option; the second eventually became Waters's first solo album, The Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking (1984).[15]

By September, Pink Floyd were having financial problems and urgently needed to produce an album to make money.[17] Financial planners Norton Warburg Group (NWG) had invested £1.3–3.3 million, up to £19.1 million in contemporary value,[18] of the group's money in high-risk venture capital to reduce their tax liabilities. The strategy failed when many of the businesses NWG invested in lost money, leaving the band facing tax rates potentially as high as 83 percent. "We made Dark Side and it looked as if we'd cracked it," recalled Waters. "Then suddenly these bastards had stolen it all. It looked as if we might be faced with huge tax bills for the money that had been lost. Eighty-three per cent was a lot of money in those days and we didn't have it."[19] Pink Floyd terminated their relationship with NWG, demanding the return of uninvested funds.[20][nb 1] "By force of necessity, I had to become closely involved in the business side," said Gilmour, "because no one around us has shown themselves sufficiently capable or honest to cope with it, and I saw with Norton Warburg that the shit was heading inexorably towards the fan. They weren't the first crooks we stupidly allied ourselves with. Ever since then, there's not a penny that I haven't signed for. I sign every cheque and examine everything."[19]

To help manage the project's 26 tracks, Waters decided to bring in a producer and collaborator,[15] feeling he needed "a collaborator who was musically and intellectually in a similar place to where I was".[21] They hired Ezrin at the suggestion of Waters's then-girlfriend Carolyne Christie, who had worked as Ezrin's secretary.[17] Ezrin had worked with Alice Cooper, Lou Reed, Kiss, and Peter Gabriel.[22] From the start, Waters made it clear who was in charge, telling him: "You can write anything you want. Just don't expect any credit."[23]

Ezrin and Gilmour reviewed Waters's concept, discarding what they thought was not good enough. Waters and Ezrin worked mostly on the story, improving the concept.[24] Ezrin presented a 40-page script to the rest of the band, with positive results. He recalled: "The next day at the studio, we had a table read, like you would with a play, but with the whole of the band, and their eyes all twinkled, because then they could see the album."[21] Ezrin broadened the storyline, distancing it from the autobiographical work Waters had written and basing it on a composite character named Pink.[25] Engineer Nick Griffiths later said: "Ezrin was very good in The Wall, because he did manage to pull the whole thing together. He's a very forceful guy. There was a lot of argument about how it should sound between Roger and Dave, and he bridged the gap between them."[26] Waters wrote most of the album, with Gilmour co-writing "Comfortably Numb", "Run Like Hell", and "Young Lust",[27] and Ezrin co-writing "The Trial".[24]

Concept and storyline[]

The Wall is a rock opera[28] that explores abandonment and isolation, symbolized by a wall. The songs create an approximate storyline of events in the life of the protagonist, Pink, a character based on Syd Barrett[29] as well as Roger Waters,[30] whose father was killed during World War II, which is where Pink starts to build a metaphorical wall around himself. The album includes several references to former band member Syd Barrett, including "Nobody Home", which hints at his condition during Pink Floyd's abortive US tour of 1967, with lyrics such as "wild, staring eyes", "the obligatory Hendrix perm" and "elastic bands keeping my shoes on". "Comfortably Numb" was inspired by Waters' injection with a muscle relaxant to combat the effects of hepatitis during the In the Flesh Tour, while in Philadelphia.[31]


Pink is a depressed rock star. He imagines a crowd of fans entering one of his concerts, and a flashback on his life up to that point begins. In the flashback, it is revealed that his father was killed defending the Anzio bridgehead during World War II ("In the Flesh?"). Pink's mother raises him alone ("The Thin Ice"), and with the death of his father, Pink starts to build a metaphorical wall around himself ("Another Brick in the Wall, Part 1"). Growing older, Pink is tormented at school by tyrannical, abusive teachers ("The Happiest Days of Our Lives"), and memories of these traumas become metaphorical "bricks in the wall" ("Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2").

As an adult now, Pink remembers his oppressive and overprotective mother ("Mother") and his upbringing during the Blitz ("Goodbye Blue Sky"). Pink soon marries, and after more bricks are created through more trauma, he is preparing to complete his "wall" ("Empty Spaces"). While touring in the United States, he has casual sex with groupies to relieve the tedium of touring, though in making a phone call home, he learns of his wife's infidelity ("Young Lust"). He brings a groupie back to his hotel room, only to trash it in a violent fit of rage, terrifying her out of the room ("One of My Turns"). Pink, depressed, thinks about his wife, and feels trapped in his room ("Don't Leave Me Now"), and dismisses every traumatic experience he has ever had as even more "bricks" in the metaphorical wall ("Another Brick in the Wall, Part 3"), Pink's wall is now finished, completely isolating himself from human contact ("Goodbye Cruel World").

Immediately after the wall's completion, Pink questions his decisions, ("Hey You"), and locks himself in his hotel room ("Is There Anybody Out There?"). Beginning to feel depressed, Pink turns to his possessions for comfort ("Nobody Home"), and yearns for the idea of reconnecting with his personal roots ("Vera"), Pink's mind flashes back to World War II, with the people demanding that the soldiers return home ("Bring the Boys Back Home"). Returning to the present, Pink's manager and roadies have busted into his hotel room, where they find him unresponsive. A paramedic injects him with drugs to enable him to perform ("Comfortably Numb").

The drugs kick in, resulting in a hallucinatory on-stage performance ("The Show Must Go On") where he believes that he is a fascist dictator, and that his concert is a Neo-Nazi rally, at which he sets brownshirt-like men on fans that he considers unworthy ("In the Flesh"). He proceeds to attack ethnic minorities ("Run Like Hell"), and then holds a rally in suburban London, symbolizing his descent into insanity ("Waiting for the Worms"). Pink's hallucination then ceases, and he begs for everything to stop ("Stop"). Showing human emotion, he is tormented with guilt and places himself on trial ("The Trial"), his inner judge ordering him to "tear down the wall", opening Pink to the outside world ("Outside the Wall").

The album turns full circle with its closing words "Isn't this where...", the first words of the phrase that begins the album, "...we came in?", with a continuation of the melody of the last song hinting at the cyclical nature of Waters' theme, and that the existential crisis at the heart of the album will never truly end.[32]



The album was recorded in several locations. In France, Super Bear Studios was used between January and July 1979, and Waters recorded his vocals at the nearby Studio Miraval. Michael Kamen supervised the orchestral arrangements at CBS Studios in New York, in September.[33] Over the next two months the band used Cherokee Studios, Producers Workshop and The Village Recorder in Los Angeles. A plan to work with the Beach Boys at the Sundance Productions studio in Los Angeles was cancelled.[34][35]

James Guthrie, recommended by previous Floyd collaborator Alan Parsons, arrived early in the production process.[36] He replaced engineer Brian Humphries, who was emotionally drained by his five years with the band.[37] Guthrie was hired as a co-producer, but was initially unaware of Ezrin's role: "I saw myself as a hot young producer ... When we arrived, I think we both felt we'd been booked to do the same job."[38] The early sessions at Britannia Row were emotionally charged, as Ezrin, Guthrie and Waters each had strong ideas about the direction the album would take. Relations within the band were at a low ebb, and Ezrin became an intermediary between Waters and the rest of the band.[39]

As Britannia Row was initially regarded as inadequate for The Wall, the band upgraded much of its equipment,[40] and by March another set of demos was complete. However, their former relationship with NWG placed them at risk of bankruptcy, and they were advised to leave the UK by no later than 6 April 1979, for a minimum of one year. As non-residents they would pay no UK taxes during that time, and within a month all four members and their families had left. Waters moved to Switzerland, Mason to France, and Gilmour and Wright to the Greek Islands. Some equipment from Britannia Row was relocated in Super Bear Studios near Nice.[26][41] Gilmour and Wright were both familiar with the studio and enjoyed its atmosphere, having recorded solo albums there. While Wright and Mason lived at the studio, Waters and Gilmour stayed in nearby houses. Mason later moved into Waters's villa near Vence, while Ezrin stayed in Nice.[42]

Ezrin's poor punctuality caused problems with the tight schedule dictated by Waters.[43] Mason found Ezrin's behaviour "erratic", but used his elaborate and unlikely excuses for his lateness as ammunition for "tongue-in-cheek resentment".[42] Ezrin's share of the royalties was less than the rest of the band and he viewed Waters as a bully, especially when Waters mocked him by having badges made that read NOPE (No Points Ezrin), alluding to his lesser share.[43] Ezrin later said he had had marital problems and was not "in the best shape emotionally".[43]

More problems became apparent when Waters's relationship with Wright broke down. The band were rarely in the studio together. Ezrin and Guthrie spliced Mason's previously recorded drum tracks together, and Guthrie worked with Waters and Gilmour during the day, returning at night to record Wright's contributions. Wright, worried about the effect that the introduction of Ezrin would have on band relationships, was keen to have a producer's credit on the album; their albums since 1969's More had credited production to "Pink Floyd".[44] Waters agreed to a trial period with Wright producing, after which he was to be given a producer's credit, but after a few weeks he and Ezrin expressed dissatisfaction with Wright's methods. A confrontation with Ezrin led to Wright working only at nights. Gilmour also expressed his annoyance, complaining that Wright's lack of input was "driving us all mad".[45] Ezrin later reflected: "it sometimes felt that Roger was setting him up to fail. Rick gets performance anxiety. You have to leave him alone to freeform, to create ..."[45]

Wright was troubled by a failing marriage and the onset of depression, exacerbated by his non-residency. While the other band members brought their children, Wright's were older and could not join as they were attending school; he said he missed them "terribly".[46] The band's holidays were booked for August, after which they were to reconvene at Cherokee Studios in Los Angeles, but Columbia offered the band a better deal in exchange for a Christmas release of the album. Waters increased the band's workload accordingly, booking time at the nearby Studio Miraval.[47] He also suggested recording in Los Angeles ten days earlier than agreed, and hiring another keyboardist to work alongside Wright, whose keyboard parts had not yet been recorded. Wright, however, refused to cut short his family holiday in Rhodes.[48]

Accounts of Wright's subsequent departure from the band differ. In his autobiography, Inside Out, Mason says that Waters called O'Rourke, who was travelling to the US on the QE2, and told him to have Wright out of the band by the time Waters arrived in LA to mix the album.[49] In another version recorded by a later historian of the band, Waters called O'Rourke and asked him to tell Wright about the new recording arrangements, to which Wright responded: "Tell Roger to fuck off".[50] Wright denied this, stating that the band had agreed to record only through the spring and early summer, and that he had no idea they were so far behind schedule. Mason later wrote that Waters was "stunned and furious",[47] and felt that Wright was not doing enough.[47] Gilmour was on holiday in Dublin when he learnt of Waters's ultimatum, and tried to calm the situation. He later spoke with Wright and gave him his support, but reminded him about his minimal contributions.[51] Waters, however, insisted that Wright leave, or he would refuse to release The Wall. Several days later, worried about their financial situation and the failing interpersonal relationships within the band, Wright quit. News of his departure was kept from the music press.[52] Although his name did not appear on the album,[53][54] he was employed as a session musician on the band's subsequent tour.[55]

By August 1979, the running order was largely complete. Wright completed his duties at Cherokee Studios aided by session musicians and Fred Mandel, and Jeff Porcaro played drums in Mason's stead on "Mother".[54] Mason left the final mix to Waters, Gilmour, Ezrin and Guthrie, and travelled to New York to record his debut solo album, Nick Mason's Fictitious Sports.[56] In advance of its release, technical constraints led to some changes to the running order and content of The Wall, with "What Shall We Do Now?" replaced by the similar but shorter "Empty Spaces", and "Hey You" being moved from the end of side three to the beginning. With the November 1979 deadline approaching, the band left the inner sleeves of the album unchanged.[57]


Mason's early drum sessions were performed in an open space on the top floor of Britannia Row Studios. The 16-track recordings from these sessions were mixed down and copied onto a 24-track master, as guide tracks for the rest of the band to play to. This gave the engineers greater flexibility,[nb 2] but also improved the audio quality of the mix, as the original 16-track drum recordings were synced to the 24-track master and the duplicated guide tracks removed.[59] Ezrin later related the band's alarm at this method of working – they apparently viewed the erasure of material from the 24-track master as "witchcraft".[39]

While at Super Bear studios, Waters agreed to Ezrin's suggestion that several tracks, including "Nobody Home", "The Trial" and "Comfortably Numb", should have an orchestral accompaniment. Michael Kamen, who had previously worked with David Bowie, was booked to oversee these arrangements, which were performed by musicians from the New York Philharmonic and New York Symphony Orchestras, and a choir from the New York City Opera.[60] Their sessions were recorded at CBS Studios in New York without Pink Floyd present. Kamen eventually met the band once recording was complete.[61]

I think things like 'Comfortably Numb' were the last embers of mine and Roger's ability to work collaboratively together.

David Gilmour[62]

"Comfortably Numb" has its origins in Gilmour's debut solo album, and was the source of much argument between Waters and Gilmour.[26] Ezrin claimed that the song initially started life as "Roger's record, about Roger, for Roger", but he thought that it needed further work. Waters changed the key of the verse and added more lyrics to the chorus, and Gilmour added extra bars for the line "I have become comfortably numb". Waters's "stripped-down and harder" recording was not to Gilmour's liking; Gilmour preferred Ezrin's "grander Technicolor, orchestral version", although Ezrin preferred Waters's version. Following a major argument in a North Hollywood restaurant, the two compromised; the song's body included the orchestral arrangement, with Gilmour's second and final guitar solo standing alone.[62]

Sound design[]

Ezrin and Waters oversaw the capture of the album's sound effects. Waters recorded the phone call used on the original demo for "Young Lust", but neglected to inform its recipient, Mason, who assumed it was a prank call and angrily hung up.[63] A real telephone operator was also an unwitting participant.[64] The call references Waters' viewpoint of his bitter 1975 divorce from first wife Judy.[65] Waters also recorded ambient sounds along Hollywood Boulevard by hanging a microphone from a studio window. Engineer Phil Taylor recorded some of the screeching tyre noises on "Run Like Hell" from a studio car park, and a television set being destroyed was used on "One of My Turns". At Britannia Row Studios, Nick Griffiths recorded the smashing of crockery for the same song.[66] Television broadcasts were used, and one actor, recognising his voice, accepted a financial settlement from the group in lieu of legal action against them.[67]

The maniacal schoolmaster was voiced by Waters, and actress Trudy Young supplied the groupie's voice.[66] Backing vocals were performed by a range of artists, although a planned appearance by the Beach Boys on "The Show Must Go On" and "Waiting for the Worms" was cancelled by Waters, who instead settled for Beach Boy Bruce Johnston and Toni Tennille.[68]

Ezrin's suggestion to release "Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2" as a single with a disco-style beat did not initially find favour with Gilmour, although Mason and Waters were more enthusiastic. Waters opposed releasing a single, but became receptive once he listened to Ezrin and Guthrie's mix. With two identical verses the song was felt to be lacking, and so a copy was sent to Griffiths in London with a request to find children to perform several versions of the lyrics.[60] Griffiths contacted Alun Renshaw, head of music at the nearby Islington Green school, who was enthusiastic, saying: "I wanted to make music relevant to the kids – not just sitting around listening to Tchaikovsky. I thought the lyrics were great – 'We don't need no education, we don't need no thought control ...' I just thought it would be a wonderful experience for the kids."[69]

Griffiths first recorded small groups of pupils and then invited more, telling them to affect a Cockney accent and shout rather than sing. He multitracked the voices, making the groups sound larger, before sending his recordings back to Los Angeles. The result delighted Waters, and the song was released as a single, becoming a Christmas number one.[70] There was some controversy when the British press reported that the children had not been paid for their efforts; they were eventually given copies of the album, and the school received a £1,000 donation (£4,000 in contemporary value[18]).[71]

Artwork and packaging[]

The album's cover art is one of Pink Floyd's most minimal – a white brick wall and no text. Waters had a falling out with Hipgnosis designer Storm Thorgerson a few years earlier when Thorgerson had included the cover of Animals in his book The Work of Hipgnosis: 'Walk Away René'. The Wall is therefore the first album cover of the band since The Piper at the Gates of Dawn not to be created by the design group.[72] Issues of the album would include the lettering of the artist name and album title by cartoonist Gerald Scarfe, either as a sticker on sleeve wrapping or printed onto the cover itself, in either black or red. Scarfe, who had previously created animations for the band's "In the Flesh" tour, also created the LP's inside sleeve art and labels of both vinyl records of the album, showing the eponymous wall in various stages of construction, accompanied by characters from the story. The drawings would be translated into dolls for The Wall Tour, as well as into Scarfe's animated segments shown during the tour and the film based on the album. It is notable that the stadium drawn in the inner sleeve looks a lot like the Montreal Olympic Stadium where the album's concept happens to find its origin. It seems plausible that the artist was inspired by the stadium's appearance in 1977 and its inclined tower which was completed only at a third of its projected (and present) height, reminiscent of the many "towers" pictured in the artist's stadium.[73][74]

Release and reception[]

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic4.5/5 stars[75]
The Daily Telegraph3/5 stars[76]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music5/5 stars[77]
The Great Rock Discography9/10[78]
MusicHound Rock5/5 stars[79]
Music Story4.5/5 stars[78]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide3/5 stars[80]
Smash Hits8/10[81]
The Village VoiceB–[83]

When the completed album was played for an assembled group of executives at Columbia's headquarters in California, several were reportedly unimpressed by what they heard.[84] Matters had not been helped when Columbia Records offered Waters smaller publishing rights on the grounds that The Wall was a double album, a position he did not accept. When one executive offered to settle the dispute with a coin toss, Waters asked why he should gamble on something he owned. He eventually prevailed.[56] The record company's concerns were alleviated when "Another Brick in the Wall Part 2" reached number one in the UK, US, Norway, Portugal, West Germany and South Africa.[84] It was certified platinum in the UK in December 1979, and platinum in the US three months later.[85]

The Wall was released in the UK and in the US on 30 November 1979.[nb 3] Coinciding with its release, Waters was interviewed by veteran DJ Tommy Vance, who played the album in its entirety on BBC Radio 1.[72] Critical opinion of its content was mixed.[86] Reviewing for Rolling Stone in February 1980, Kurt Loder hailed it as "a stunning synthesis of Waters's by now familiar thematic obsessions" that "leaps to life with a relentless lyrical rage that's clearly genuine and, in its painstaking particularity, ultimately horrifying."[87] By contrast, The Village Voice critic Robert Christgau regarded it as "a dumb tribulations-of-a-rock-star epic" backed by "kitschy minimal maximalism with sound effects and speech fragments",[88] adding in The New York Times that its worldview is "self-indulgent" and "presents the self-pity of its rich, famous and decidedly post-adolescent protagonist as a species of heroism".[89] Melody Maker declared, "I'm not sure whether it's brilliant or terrible, but I find it utterly compelling."[90]

Nevertheless, the album topped the Billboard charts for 15 weeks,[91] selling over a million copies in its first two months of sales[86] and in 1999 was certified 23x platinum.[nb 4][92] It remains one of the best-selling albums of all time in the US,[85][92] between 1979 and 1990 selling over 19 million copies worldwide.[93] The Wall is Pink Floyd's second best selling album after 1973's The Dark Side of the Moon. Engineer James Guthrie's efforts were rewarded in 1980 with a Grammy award for Best Engineered Recording (non-classical), and the album was nominated for the Grammy Award for Album of the Year.[94] Rolling Stone placed it at number 87 on its 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list in 2003,[95] maintaining the rating in a 2012 revised list,[96] although this was updated to 129 with the list's 2020 revision.[7] Based on such rankings, the aggregate website Acclaimed Music lists The Wall as the 166th most acclaimed album in history.[97]


A 1994 digitally remastered CD version manufactured in China omits "Young Lust", but retains a composition credit for Waters/Gilmour in the booklet.[98] The album was reissued in three versions as part of the Why Pink Floyd...? campaign, which featured a massive restoration of the band's catalogue with remastering by producer James Guthrie: in 2011, a "Discovery" edition, featuring the remastered version with no extras; and in 2012, both the "Experience" edition, which adds a bonus disc of unreleased material and other supplementary items, and the "Immersion" version, a seven-disc collection that also adds video materials.[99][100] The album was reissued under the Pink Floyd Records label on 26 August 2016 along with The Division Bell.

Despite it being possible to fit more than 80 minutes of audio onto a single CD, all official uncut releases of the album have so far comprised two CDs.


The Wall Tour opened at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena on 7 February 1980. As the band played, a 40-foot (12 m) wall of cardboard bricks was gradually built between them and the audience. Several characters were realised as giant inflatables, including a pig, replete with a crossed hammers logo.[101] Scarfe was employed to produce a series of animations to be projected onto the wall.[101] At his London studio, he employed a team of 40 animators to create nightmarish visions of the future, including a dove of peace, a schoolmaster, and Pink's mother.[102]

For "Comfortably Numb", while Waters sang his opening verse, Gilmour waited in darkness at the top of the wall, standing on a flight case on casters, held steady by a technician, both precariously balanced atop a hydraulic platform. On cue, bright blue and white lights would suddenly illuminate him.[103] At the end of the concert, the wall collapsed, revealing the band.[104] Along with the songs on the album, the tour featured an instrumental medley, "The Last Few Bricks", played before "Goodbye Cruel World" to allow the construction crew to complete the wall.[105]

During the tour, band relationships dropped to an all-time low; four Winnebagos were parked in a circle, with the doors facing away from the centre. Waters used his own vehicle to arrive at the venue, and stayed in separate hotels from the rest of the band. Wright, returning as a salaried musician, was the only member of the band to profit from the tour, which lost about £400,000.[55]


A concert stage in front of a wall with 2 levels. Five men stand on a balcony, including Roger Waters, who is saluting with his arm. On the lower level is a drum kit and a man playing guitar.
Waters (in spotlight), dressed in military attire, performing at The Wall – Live in Berlin, 1990

A film adaptation, Pink Floyd – The Wall, was released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in July 1982.[39] It was written by Waters and directed by Alan Parker, with Bob Geldof as Pink. It used Scarfe's animation alongside actors, with little conventional dialogue.[106] A modified soundtrack was created for some of the film's songs.[107]

In 1990, Waters and producer Tony Hollingsworth created The Wall – Live in Berlin, staged for charity at a site once occupied by part of the Berlin Wall.[108] Beginning in 2010[109] and with dates lasting into 2013, Waters performed the album worldwide on his tour, The Wall Live.[110] This had a much wider wall, updated higher quality projected content and leading-edge projection technology. Gilmour and Mason played at one show in London at The O2 Arena.[111] A film of the live concert, Roger Waters: The Wall, was released in 2015.[112] In 2000, Pink Floyd released Is There Anybody Out There? The Wall Live 1980–81, which contains portions of various live shows from the Wall Tour.[113]

In 2016, Waters adapted The Wall into an opera, Another Brick in the Wall: The Opera with contemporary classical composer Julien Bilodeau. It premiered at Opéra de Montréal in March 2017, and was produced by Cincinnati Opera in July 2018.[114] It is orchestrated for a score of eight soloists, 48 chorus members, and a standard 70-piece operatic orchestra.[115]

In 2018, a tribute album The Wall [Redux] was released, with individual artists covering the entire album. This included Melvins' version of "In The Flesh?",[116] Pallbearer covering "Run Like Hell", former Screaming Trees' singer Mark Lanegan covering "Nobody Home" and Church of the Cosmic Skull reworking "The Trial".[117][118]

Track listing[]

All tracks written by Roger Waters, except where noted.

Side one
No.TitleLead vocalsLength
1."In the Flesh?"Waters3:16
2."The Thin Ice"
  • Waters
  • David Gilmour
3."Another Brick in the Wall, Part 1"Waters3:11
4."The Happiest Days of Our Lives"Waters1:46
5."Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2"
  • Waters
  • Gilmour
  • Waters
  • Gilmour
Total length:20:11
Side two
No.TitleLead vocalsLength
1."Goodbye Blue Sky"Gilmour2:45
2."Empty Spaces"Waters2:10
3."Young Lust" (writers: Waters, Gilmour)Gilmour3:25
4."One of My Turns"Waters3:41
5."Don't Leave Me Now"Waters4:08
6."Another Brick in the Wall, Part 3"Waters1:18
7."Goodbye Cruel World"Waters1:16
Total length:18:43 (38:54)
Side three
No.TitleLead vocalsLength
1."Hey You"Gilmour, Waters4:40
2."Is There Anybody Out There?"Waters, Gilmour2:44
3."Nobody Home"Waters3:26
5."Bring the Boys Back Home"Waters1:21
6."Comfortably Numb" (writers: Gilmour, Waters)Waters, Gilmour6:23
Total length:20:09
Side four
No.TitleLead vocalsLength
1."The Show Must Go On"Gilmour1:36
2."In the Flesh"Waters4:15
3."Run Like Hell" (writers: Gilmour, Waters)Waters, Gilmour4:20
4."Waiting for the Worms"Waters, Gilmour4:04
6."The Trial" (writers: Waters, Bob Ezrin)Waters5:13
7."Outside the Wall"Waters1:41
Total length:21:39 (41:48) (80:39)

Columbia Records 1st, 2nd, and 3rd issue cassette releases

Side One

1."In The Flesh?"3:16
2."The Thin Ice"2:27
3."Another Brick In The Wall, Part 1"3:11
4."The Happiest Days Of Our Lives"1:46
5."Another Brick In The Wall, Part 2"3:59
7."Goodbye Blue Sky"2:45
8."Empty Spaces"2:10
9."Young Lust"3:25
10."One Of My Turns"3:41
11."Don't Leave Me Now"4:08
12."Another Brick In The Wall, Part 3"1:18
13."Goodbye Cruel World"1:16
14."Hey You"4:40
15."Is There Anybody Out There?"2:44
16."Nobody Home"3:26
18."Bring The Boys Back Home"1:21
19."Comfortably Numb"6:23
20."The Show Must Go On"1:36
21."In The Flesh"4:15
22."Run Like Hell"4:23
23."Waiting For The Worms"3:59
25."The Trial"5:13
26."Outside The Wall"1:41
Total length:80:39


Pink Floyd

  • Roger Waters – vocals, bass guitar, synthesizer, acoustic guitar on "Mother" and "Vera", electric guitar on "Another Brick in the Wall, Part 3",[119] sleeve design, co-production
  • David Gilmour – vocals, electric and acoustic guitars, bass guitar, synthesizer, clavinet, percussion, co-production
  • Nick Mason – drums, percussion
  • Richard Wright – acoustic and electric pianos, Hammond organ, synthesizer, clavinet, bass pedals

Additional musicians

  • Bruce Johnston – backing vocals[120]
  • Toni Tennille – backing vocals on "In the Flesh?", "The Show Must Go On", "In the Flesh" and "Waiting for the Worms"
  • Joe Chemay – backing vocals
  • Jon Joyce – backing vocals
  • Stan Farber – backing vocals
  • Jim Haas – backing vocals
  • Bob Ezrin – production, piano, Hammond organ, synthesizer, reed organ, orchestral arrangement, music on "The Trial", backing vocals
  • James Guthrie – percussion, synthesizer, sound effects, co-producer, engineer
  • Jeff Porcaro – drums on "Mother"
  • Children of Islington Green School – vocals on "Another Brick in the Wall Part II"
  • Joe Porcaro[121] – snare drums on "Bring the Boys Back Home"
  • Lee Ritenour – rhythm guitar on "One of My Turns", additional acoustic guitar on "Comfortably Numb"
  • Joe (Ron) di Blasi – classical guitar on "Is There Anybody Out There?"
  • Fred Mandel – Hammond organ on "In The Flesh?" and "In the Flesh"
  • Bobbye Hall – congas and bongos on "Run Like Hell"
  • Frank Marocco – concertina on "Outside the Wall"
  • Larry Williams – clarinet on "Outside the Wall"
  • Trevor Veitch – mandolin on "Outside the Wall"
  • New York Orchestra – orchestra
  • New York Opera – choral vocals
  • Vicki Brown and Clare Torry (credited simply as "Vicki & Clare") – backing vocals on "The Trial"
  • Harry Waters – child's voice on "Goodbye Blue Sky"
  • Chris Fitzmorris – male telephone voice
  • Trudy Young – voice of the groupie
  • Phil Taylor – sound effects


  • Michael Kamen – orchestral arrangement
  • Nick Griffiths – engineer
  • Patrice Quef – engineer
  • Brian Christian – engineer
  • Rick Hart – engineer
  • Doug Sax – mastering at The Mastering Lab
  • John McClure - engineer
  • Phil Taylor – sound equipment
  • Gerald Scarfe – sleeve design
  • Krieg Wunderlich – remastering on Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab 24kt gold CD[122]
  • Doug Sax, James Guthrie – 1994 remastering at The Mastering Lab[123]
  • James Guthrie, Joel Plante – 2011 remastering at das boot recording[120]



Date Single Chart Position Source
23 November 1979 "Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2)" UK Top 40 1 [nb 5][179]
7 January 1980 "Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2)" US Billboard Pop Singles 1 [nb 6][85]
9 June 1980 "Run Like Hell" US Billboard Pop Singles 53 [nb 7][85]
March 1980 "Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2)" Norway's single chart 1 [180]

Certifications and sales[]

Region Certification Certified units/sales
Argentina (CAPIF)[181] Platinum 60,000^
Australia (ARIA)[182]
11× Platinum 165,000^
Australia (ARIA)[183] 11× Platinum 770,000^
Brazil 110,000[184]
Brazil (Pro-Música Brasil)[185]
2× Platinum 100,000*
Canada (Music Canada)[186] 2× Diamond 2,000,000^
Denmark (IFPI Danmark)[187] 6× Platinum 120,000double-dagger
France (SNEP)[188] Diamond 1,000,000*
France (SNEP)[189]
2× Platinum 40,000*
Germany (BVMI)[190] 4× Platinum 2,000,000^
Germany (BVMI)[191]
2× Platinum 100,000^
Greece (IFPI Greece)[192] Platinum 100,000^
Hong Kong (IFPI Hong Kong)[193] Platinum 20,000*
Italy (FIMI)[194]
sales of Parlaphone edition since 2009
4× Platinum 200,000double-dagger
Italy (FIMI)[195]
sales of Harvest edition since 2009
Platinum 60,000*
Dvd 2006 sales
Netherlands (NVPI)[197]
EMI Records Holland B.V. edition
Platinum 100,000^
Netherlands (NVPI)[197]
Sony BMG edition
Gold 50,000^
New Zealand (RMNZ)[198] 14× Platinum 210,000^
Poland (ZPAV)[199]
Platinum 10,000*
Poland (ZPAV)[200]
2011 release
Platinum 20,000double-dagger
Poland (ZPAV)[201] Platinum 70,000*
Spain (PROMUSICAE)[202] Platinum 100,000^
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)[204] 2× Platinum 250,000[203]
United Kingdom (BPI)[205]
sales of Parlaphone edition – 2011–2013
2× Platinum 600,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[206]
sales of Harvest edition in 1979
Platinum 300,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[207]
5× Platinum 250,000*
United States (RIAA)[208]
certified sales 1979–1999
23× Platinum 11,500,000^
United States
Nielsen sales 1991–2008
Worldwide 30,000,000[5]

* Sales figures based on certification alone.
^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.
double-dagger Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.



  1. ^ Pink Floyd eventually sued NWG for £1 million, accusing them of fraud and negligence. NWG collapsed in 1981. fled to Spain, Norton Warburg Investments (a part of NWG) was renamed to Waterbrook, and many of its holdings were sold at a loss. Andrew Warburg was jailed for three years upon his return to the UK in 1987.[20]
  2. ^ As well as being more flexible, repeated replay of magnetic tape can, over time, reduce the quality of the recorded material.
  3. ^ EMI Harvest SHDW 411 (double album)[85]
  4. ^ As a double album 23x platinum signifies sales of 11.5 million.
  5. ^ EMI Harvest HAR 5194 (7" single)
  6. ^ Columbia 1-11187 (7" single)
  7. ^ Columbia 1-11265 (7" single)


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  • Blake, Mark (2008), Comfortably Numb – The Inside Story of Pink Floyd (1st US paperback ed.), Cambridge, Massachusetts: Da Capo Press, ISBN 978-0-306-81752-6
  • Fitch, Vernon; Mahon, Richard (2006), Comfortably Numb: A History of "The Wall": Pink Floyd 1978–1981 (1st US hardcover ed.), St. Petersburg, Florida: PFA Publishing, ISBN 978-0-9777366-0-7, archived from the original on 8 February 2011, retrieved 21 December 2010
  • Mason, Nick (2005), Philip Dodd (ed.), Inside Out: A Personal History of Pink Floyd (UK paperback ed.), London: Phoenix, ISBN 978-0-7538-1906-7
  • Povey, Glenn (2007), Echoes (1st UK paperback ed.), London: Mind Head Publishing, ISBN 978-0-9554624-0-5, archived from the original on 18 April 2021, retrieved 11 October 2020
  • Bench, Jeff; O'Brien, Daniel (2004), Pink Floyd's The Wall: In the Studio, On Stage and on Screen (UK paperback ed.), London: Reynolds and Hearn, ISBN 978-1-903111-82-6
  • Scarfe, Gerald (2010), The Making of Pink Floyd: The Wall (1st US paperback ed.), New York: Da Capo Press, ISBN 978-0-306-81997-1, archived from the original on 7 July 2017, retrieved 20 August 2012
  • Schaffner, Nicholas (1991), Saucerful of Secrets (UK paperback ed.), London: Sidgwick & Jackson, ISBN 978-0-283-06127-1
  • Simmons, Sylvie (December 1999), "Pink Floyd: The Making of The Wall", Mojo, London: Emap Metro, 73: 76–95

Further reading

  • Di Perna, Alan (2002), Guitar World Presents Pink Floyd, Milwaukee: Hal Leonard Corporation, ISBN 978-0-634-03286-8
  • Fitch, Vernon (2001), Pink Floyd: The Press Reports 1966–1983, Ontario: Collector's Guide Publishing Inc, ISBN 978-1-896522-72-2
  • Fricke, David (December 2009), "Roger Waters: Welcome to My Nightmare ... Behind The Wall", Mojo, London: Emap Metro, 193: 68–84
  • Hiatt, Brian (September 2010), "Back to The Wall", Rolling Stone, vol. 1114, pp. 50–57
  • MacDonald, Bruno (1997), Pink Floyd: through the eyes of ... the band, its fans, friends, and foes, New York: Da Capo Press, ISBN 978-0-306-80780-0
  • Mabbett, Andy (2010), Pink Floyd The Music and the Mystery, London: Omnibus Press, ISBN 978-1-84938-370-7

External links[]

  • Quotations related to The Wall at Wikiquote
  • The Wall at Discogs (list of releases)
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