How David Gilmour used a pair of pigs’ testicles to get one over on Roger Waters

A photograph of Roger Waters, David Gilmour and a startled-looking pig
(Image credit: Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images, Pexels, Gennady Avramenko/ Epsilon/Getty Images)

The success of their 1987 album A Momentary Lapse Of Reason proved to David Gilmour and the remaining members of Pink Floyd that there was still life in the prog-rock titans after the departure of Roger Waters. Their former bassist and chief songwriter had taken the group to court in an effort to stop the band using the Pink Floyd name but he’d lost. Not only did he have to swallow his pride as they went on to make a successful comeback record, now he had to watch as they embarked on a mammoth sell-out tour of the US at the same time as him. 

It was clear which of the divided camp was doing the better: Waters was playing in mid-sized theatres and was struggling to sell out his shows, whilst Floyd’s A Momentary Lapse Of Reason tour took in 200 spectacular arena performances and over five and a half million ticket sales. Waters didn’t keep his disappointment to himself. “I’m out on the road in competition with myself, and I’m losing,” he complained. 

David Gilmour, though, couldn’t understand why Waters thought he’d willingly retire the Pink Floyd name. As he saw it, he’d earned the right to use it. “I’m 40,” he told the writer Phil Sutcliffe – this was the 80s, remember, way before 40 was the new 30 which was the new 20. “I’ve slogged around America, Europe and the rest of the world,” he continued. “I don’t feel old except when I think about starting all over again without the name Pink Floyd.” 

Although Waters had withdrawn his application to ban use of the Pink Floyd name, there were some terms that his former bandmates would have to adhere to. One such pernickety stipulation was that Pink Floyd needed to pay $800 a gig to use the inflatable pig, an important part of Pink Floyd iconography, in their live show. Despite the fact neither Waters, Gilmour or anyone else involved in the upper echelons of the Pink Floyd payroll was in need of $800, it became another small-print battle between the parties. It was Gilmour who gained the upper hand, though, by virtue of adding pink testicles to the original design for the group’s shows on the ‘87-‘88 tour. The change was enough: they would no longer have to cough up for Waters. 

That it had all got so infantile for these grown men was no surprise to anyone who’d been following their petty wrangles, but you might have expected the crown jewels that Gilmour and Waters should be fighting over were their songs. They’d taken things down a notch.

Niall Doherty

Niall Doherty is a writer and editor whose work can be found in Classic Rock, The Guardian, Music Week, FourFourTwo, on Apple Music and more. Formerly the Deputy Editor of Q magazine, he co-runs the music Substack letter The New Cue with fellow former Q colleagues Ted Kessler and Chris Catchpole. He is also Reviews Editor at Record Collector. Over the years, he's interviewed some of the world's biggest stars, including Elton John, Coldplay, Arctic Monkeys, Muse, Pearl Jam, Radiohead, Depeche Mode, Robert Plant and more. Radiohead was only for eight minutes but he still counts it.