Let’s Get Litigious: Pink Floyd Cuts Their Spending By 25%

pinkfloydLet me set the scene for you, loyal Rocknuts reader:

The year was the 80’s. Specifically 1985-86. Both a nation-wide crack epidemic and the writer of this article were in their infancy.

Pink Floyd, everyone’s favorite progressive rock band (unless you were one of those arty kids who liked Genesis), was on rocky terrain. After essentially taking complete control of the group, Roger Waters found that he wanted to exit instead. Sick of performing under the Pink Floyd name, Waters quit in 1985, figuring that the group was done for good.

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Imagine his surprise when Pink Floyd began working on a new album in 1986.

Well, as it turned out, the other members of the band didn’t share Waters’ opinion that Pink Floyd was a “spent force, creatively.” In fact, they had begun preparing material for what would eventually become their just-fine album A Momentary Lapse of Reason.

Waters figured that his departure from the band effectively broke them up. He would later invoke something in his contract called the “Key Member Clause.”

Essentially, this is a clause usually found in major-label contracts (yet another perk of being really successful) stating that if one or more of any designated “key members” quit the band, the label has the power to sue them for breach of their contract. But who are the key members?

If you’re in a band, and you’re not sure who the key member is, it’s definitely not you.

Usually the clause will incorporate some language like “critical to the overall sound” in determining who is “contract-breach-worthy.”

Roger Waters argued, in a statement to EMI and CBS (record companies), that he could break up the band and breach the contract by actively leaving the group. After all, the was the main creative force in the group. By his logic, his exit, on its own, constituted a fundamental fracturing of the “overall sound.” To make things really official, Waters then petitioned the High Court to formally dissolve the corporate entity known as “Pink Floyd.” The remaining members opposed this application, claiming that Water’s couldn’t unilaterally decide to break up the band. It went back and forth like that, as both parties spent a Lear jet full of money and things started to look fairly grim.

It wasn’t the end of the group, though.

Waters and David Gilmour eventually met on a houseboat and ironed out a complex arrangement that allowed Waters to “resign” from the group and make a clean break from various financial obligations. Meanwhile, the remaining members of the group were able to continue using the name “Pink Floyd.”

And without Waters, the group was better than ever!

Not really, though.

The lesson here is always surrender to tyrants. Cowards live long lives.

I’m bad at lessons.


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