In 1974, Nick Sedgwick was approached by Storm Thorgerson to collaborate on a biography of Pink Floyd. Being a long-term childhood friend of Roger Waters, he already had an ‘in’ with the band. This book, blocked from publication for many years, is the result of Sedgwick’s efforts, the collaborative aspect having fallen by the wayside in the mid seventies.
Sedgwick passed away in 2011, but Roger Waters has organised the publication of the manuscript, presumably having finally resolved objections from other Floyd members, allegedly mainly coming from David Gilmour.
He’s done a very good job – his hand written asides and corrections supplement the original text, there are plenty of previously unseen photographs and the whole thing has been printed on top quality paper. It seems no expense has been spared to deliver his friend’s wish that the book should eventually see the light of day.
The book itself is in two distinct sections: Part one details Sedgwick’s early life in Cambridge, eventually crossing paths with Waters and subsequently the rest of the Pink Floyd circle. The proposed book project with Thorgerson leads to his spending the summer of 1974 on holiday with Waters and his first wife Judy Trim at their holiday home in Greece. This turns out to be something less than the idyllic vacation he anticipated, as their marriage is on the rocks, leading to many frustrations being aired. She accuses Waters of flaunting his newfound wealth in the faces of the impoverished locals, he suspects her of having an affair with a German friend holidaying with them. To be fair, Waters does come across as rather an arrogant self centred young man, happy to be gratuitously enjoying the fruits of his success, while she seems something of a firebrand figure, yearning for a simpler, more egalitarian existence, but being reliant on Waters to finance her artistic lifestyle creating pottery. Suffice to say, things don’t end particularly well for any of the participants.
The second part of the book covers the band’s tour of the UK in the winter of 1974. Given fly on the wall access, Sedgwick gives a warts and all account of the trials and tribulations endured by the touring party. They are plagued by innumerable technical problems with their sound equipment, which is often not compatible with the crumbing, archaic venues they are playing. The band fall out with themselves, their crew, their manager and the promoter. Everything that can go wrong seemingly does so, leading to a series of desultory shows, which nevertheless seem to be rapturously received by the audiences. I think this area is the root of Gilmour’s and the others subsequent objections to the book: it’s not that they are portrayed negatively, but that events recounted make it abundantly clear that Waters is the de facto leader of the band. He is very much the one with the drive, the ideas, the energy and the ability to just ‘get things done,’ while the others seem content to take a back seat. Perhaps this did not sit well with their own images of themselves. All parties seem relieved when the tour is at an end, even though it is just a precursor to a much lengthier US jaunt the following year. This is again attended by the author, but his recollections of this much smoother, better organised, trip are far briefer, being just a relatively brief summary of events, rather than the blow by blow account of the British dates.
Length of Read:Medium
Might appeal to people who enjoyed…
Pink Floyd, rock biographies.
One thing you’ve learned
If you’re a Floyd fan, you’ll love this book. There are a few surprising factual errors, but these don’t detract at all from the book as a whole. It is certainly a worthy memorial to Nick Sedgwick, and indeed to Judy Trim, who passed away in 2002.