That time Roger Waters hooked up with Foo Fighters to cover a Pink Floyd classic

Roger Waters and the Foo Fighters playing on Jimmy Fallon
(Image credit: The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon)

In September 2011, The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon put together a Pink Floyd week. Over the course of five days, Nick Mason and Roger Waters were interviewed, and several well-known names performed Pink Floyd songs. Pearl Jam covered Mother. Country star Dierks Bentley played Wish You Were Here. Indie icons The Shins did Breathe, and MGMT gave Lucifer Sam a makeover. 

For fans of Pink Floyd this live stuff was all very nice, even if it lacked input from the actual members of the band. There was one exception, however: On September 27, Roger Waters performed In The Flesh?, one of the standout tracks from his bleak masterpiece The Wall, with Foo Fighters as his backing band. 

This wasn't the first time the Foos had grappled with the Floyd. In 1999 they recorded a version of Have A Cigar – first released as the b-side of the Learn To Fly single, and then on the Mission Impossible 2 soundtrack the following year – with extra guitar from Queen's Brian May. Taylor Hawkins sang lead as Dave Grohl couldn't remember the lyrics, a role he'd reprise when the band subsequently played the song live. The Foos also played Fearless by Floyd on two occasions. 

Back to Fallon. In The Flesh? is unusual amongst Pink Floyd songs in that any sonic subtlety is abandoned in favour of a giant, lumbering riff, making it ideal fodder for the Foos' multiple axemen, while Grohl's violent headbanging during the intro must surely have been prompted by the kind of fat bottom end that only two bass guitars can provide. The harmony part of the riff may be missing, but those involved appear to having so much fun it feels churlish to complain. 

So we won't. We're just happy it happened.

Fraser Lewry

Online Editor at Louder/Classic Rock magazine since 2014. 38 years in music industry, online for 25. Also bylines for: Metal Hammer, Prog Magazine, The Word Magazine, The Guardian, The New Statesman, Saga, Music365. Former Head of Music at Xfm Radio, A&R at Fiction Records, early blogger, ex-roadie, published author. Once appeared in a Cure video dressed as a cowboy, and thinks any situation can be improved by the introduction of cats. Favourite Serbian trumpeter: Dejan Petrović.