Steven Wilson: Roger Waters Is Arguably the Worst Musician in Pink Floyd, Yet He's Behind Most of Their Groundbreaking Music

"Great musicians are people who are brilliant musical thinkers."

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Steven Wilson: Roger Waters Is Arguably the Worst Musician in Pink Floyd, Yet He's Behind Most of Their Groundbreaking Music
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Steven Wilson talked about the key aspects of being a top-notch musician, telling Team Tock:

"When Mikael [Akerfeldt, from Opeth] says he's a mediocre singer or guitarist, I understand what he's saying - I say the same thing.

"But he's a great musician - and that has got nothing to do with ability. Great musicians are people who are brilliant musical thinkers.

"Brian Eno is one - he can't play anything, but he thinks about music in a brilliant way.

"Roger Waters, arguably the worst musician in Pink Floyd, is another - he's responsible for most of their groundbreaking music. Mikael is in the same category.

"I'd like see [Akerfeldt] make a record that really focuses on his songwriting, because he's a fantastic songwriter.

"I've just made a record ['To the Bone'] where I've stripped away a lot of the more conceptual elements and focused on my songwriting.

"I’d like to see him do the same, because I think he is really underrated as a melodicist, a songwriter and arranger. I think that would be a challenge for him but one he'd absolutely rise to.”

51 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Anty 7
    He is absolutely right, why are you guys complaining?! Waters himself would agree that the other guys are far more competent musicians... The point Wilson is trying to make us that you don't have to be a virtuoso to make great music. He is making Waters a compliment. Waters strengths are his drive, his vision and his artistry. He would never be hired for his chops as a sideman for example.
    travislausch
    I mean, I mostly agree with him, and you, but I tried to learn some of his bass lines recently and actually found myself lacking the physical stamina to pull off the one from "Pigs (Three Different Ones)".  But for me, the thing with Floyd was never their technical chops, but the fact that no matter what they wrote, they always seemed to be able to find the "perfect note" to express their ideas.
    AlexToodooloo
    Gilmour played bass on 'Pigs...'
    travislausch
    Hahaha well that explains it.  But honestly, I would probably say the worst musician in Floyd is Mason. They've had to bring in other drummers because he couldn't keep up with the time changes in certain tunes like "Mother" or "Two Suns in the Sunset", and it's not like they're even particularly challenging. That said, he does have a pretty cool, laid-back drum style that just works perfectly for their music!
    chuck_lake
    Well, you're right in that one, I always thought the same. But yeah, all the great bass lines were recorded by David. Roger is a good writer but just an ok player.  All the same, though, they had another guy to play Is There Anybody Out There because Gilmour didn't know how to play fingerstyle at the time! And yet his solos are magic, but he's not a great writer. So in different ways, I think both are great musicians
    jmarse
    Except earlier this year he claimed he was far more musically talented with an instrument in his hands than Gilmour, Wright, and Mason
    johansaphone.wo
    How does no one actually understand what Steven Wilson is saying here? Is it just me or is the collective internet intelligence dropping down every day?
    redgravegilver
    Just look at the comments on previous Steven wilson articles lol. This site just has a massive hatred boner for Steven Wilson( I also criticize the guy from time to time) yet majority of these idiots probably haven't even listened to Deadwing or Fear of a Blank Planet.
    robertfarrer81
    I totally get this and I’m a massive Floyd fan. Rogers contribution is his vision, lyrics and musical production. His musical ability in terms of his instruments is mediocre compared to the rest of the band. You wouldn’t see him getting picked up as a session player etc for his ability on bass. A band is always the sum of the parts however and the reason the most successful period ‘70-‘82 is his contribution to the overall band.
    fromzero
    I was listening to a newer Roger waters song and I was like this bass line sounds like it's recycled from a few old pink Floyd songs... It was familiar yet new at the same time and masterfully created yet not very difficult to play. Beatles were making 2 albums a year and they aren't the hardest to play but they're brilliant in their on right.
    FranzZipper
    Mozart wasn't much cop on the oboe, but he seems to have stood the test of time. Lennon wasn't exactly Guthrie. Composing is different to playing. 
    selkayann
    While I agree with your point, Mozart was a beast on the piano
    Pucky87
    John Lennon's rhythm guitar playing in the early days was pretty impressive. He had a lot of speed and dexterity, and he had a technique of slipping in banjo chords which helped him to do that effectively. I think he is actually very underrated in that regard. But in keeping with the article, as his playing kind of got worse, (because of problems with live audiences and quitting live altogether), and his creativity sky rockted.
    zack2k
    I love this comment section. Thanks Steve, you brighten my day.
    rcanders
    Roger Waters is probably the biggest asshole in Pink Floyd but is also its best song writer.
    SlowJoe
    Roger Waters is a good guy. Ethical, principles and has a good conscience.
    akeeperiam
    Roger waters is pink his composing was most of the contributing factors in almost all the albums and comparing his breakaway solos pros and cons radio kaos and amused to death by far out do gilmores delicate sound of thunder. If tou heard his opera from 2006 is supreme CA iragilmore might be able to play guitar but waters is head and shoilders above in creation and talent is getting other musicians to play spot on minus the whah that wright golmore and mason were good at
    akeeperiam
    Was soley the song writer in an album that went 40 years in the top 100 name a song gilmore wright or mason composed themselves before the split
    robertfarrer81
    Again it’s the sum of the parts. Waters brought the lyrics, the themes the production. Gilmour brought the overall sound and production with Wright contributing to the overall sound with his haunting keyboards. Loose any one you it turns into the Division Bell. 😏
    danheathmusic
    Who the hell is this guy
    fokkertism
    Just some airhead with a God complex who put out a few demos and two great psych albums between 1989 and 1993. The Metal world, however, seem to worship the man.
    alexeyzhukov691
    I'll take Roger Waters anytime over Steven Wilson. How's he the worst musician if the best albums like Dark Side Of The Moon, Wish You Were Here, Animals and The Wall were done basically under his leadership? None of Pink Floyd stuff before or after came even close to those 4 records! And then comes Steven Wilson, whose best stuff is earlier Porcupine Tree, when he heavily drew from the Pink Floyd influence! But Porcupine Tree has been on a steady aristic decline and Steven Wilson has gotten himself involved in a myriad of projects, none of which are worth mentioning, instead of focusing on one. So it's Steven Wilson who decides who's good and who isn't? But I really don't see how he qualifies to be a judge. Let's be straight: Porcupine Tree is a 2nd tier pseudo-psychdelic Floyd wannabe at its best. But Steven Wilson says Roger Waters is no good? Roger Waters is a giant and a driving force behind the best of Pink Floyd. And David Gilmour did his best work obviously drawing inspiration from Roger Waters because none of his solo stuff is half as good.
    ric.rivas
    You did not understand his point. He says that Waters is not particularly good at playing Bass, but in SW's eyes that does not matter. The ability to play the instrument is different from the one to compose and have musical sensibility. Then he makes another example on this with Mikael, who is not particularly good at playing, but very good at composing (like Waters).
    alexeyzhukov691
    I understood his point perfectly well because what he's actually doing is expressing his hidden frustration: "How come the worst musician makes the best music?" Because Steven Wilson obviously considers himself a "better musician". But he's wrong - the better musician makes the best music.
    nunofrg
    whatever his thoughts, we are talking about roger fucking waters! this doesnt sound good, almost looks like he said he is mediocre (which he doesnt says that, he just says he is the worst of them all... well, being the worst in pink floyd can mean being outstanding anyway right?)  it just annoys me a bit, someone joining the name roger waters with "arguably the worst in pink floyd" in one sentence.
    Rayan_A
    Huh, you can say the same thing about Lars Ulr... Oh fuck! What am I doing??!?!?!  Okay.  There, much better
    Ethanodd
    I like Steven, but this shit is so fucking cringe it's almost unbearable. What a pretentious way to make a halfway decent point.
    slave1
    Um, who's steven wilson and has he actually seen waters play guitar?
    JaguarGod
    Just some random who's worked with Opeth, Guthrie Govan, Marco Minnemann, Alan Parsons, Anathema, Rush, and King Crimson, can play like 500 instruments and has a shit load of albums and projects. Just a nobody really ya know. 
    nosiesnetnieuws
     I think we may have found a rather perfect specimen of the attention-seeking out-of-context click-bait quote as a headline above an article here. 
    SFosterS
    Pro tip kids: When you have a choice to word something a certain way, think about the outcome. Saying he is arguably the worst is trolling, he could have just said he's the least capable, not the best, not a virtuoso... Steven will always pick the more pretentious way to say something.  While I do in fact get his point, I think he chose a jerk way to say it. So kids, if you aren't invited to that party or trip, ask yourself if you sound like Steven Wilson.
    Skwisgaar1996
    Sure, Waters might not be a show-off, Claypool-level bass playing virtuoso, but he's undoubtedly a great musician, and at least most people know who he is. Waters was probably the largest creative force in Floyd, he's known for his lyrics and compositions. Ask anyone who isn't a music snob who Steven Wilson is and it's almost guarenteed they won't know who you're talking about. This really comes across as a jealous artist who isn't happy with his ticket and album sales so he craps on more well-known artists for the press coverage.