John C. Wolfe
John C. Wolfe

The legacy of an adequate bass player

I’d like to meet the Jew who turned Roger Waters into a lunatic. That’s gotta be what happened. Someone with a Jewish last name must have trashed Waters’ musical talent or denied him a record contract. And that’s all it took to send Roger Waters into four-year mental breakdown, seizing the opportunity to blame Jews for more than just controlling the media and running the banks.

Undoubtedly, Jay-Z, another genius, also had an unsatisfactory run-in with Jews, but at least he managed to limit his bigoted outburst to a single anti-Semitic blurt. Rogers couldn’t stop there. He never had that Oops! Moment, when conscientious racists catch themselves and shut the hell up.

Here’s what I still don’t get: Why did the world give such a disproportionate amount of attention to a mediocre bass player from 30 years ago? Where did Waters — whose greatest contribution to rock was leaving Pink Floyd in 1985 – get the credibility to preach about anything other than boilerplate bass playing?

He didn’t just exercise his right to free speech; he harassed, badgered and guilted others to embrace his misguided, anti-Israel ideology and a boycott movement that’s working wonders for Israel’s economy.

His worst behavior, aside from the obvious thing, was shaming other artists who chose to play concerts in Israel, like former Pink Floyd sound engineer Alan Parsons, whose career, unlike that of Rogers, soared after leaving the group.

Parsons refused to cancel a gig in Tel Aviv but Parsons, saying, “I am simply an artist. I create music… Music knows no borders, and neither do I.” Waters responded by publicly accusing Parsons of “ignoring the plight of the oppressed.”

That’s unforgivable.

Then the 90s grunge crowd got pulled into the fray.

At one point, Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam appeared to jump on the Waters bandwagon, saying something about… well, something.

When he realized that whatever he said was perceived as anti- Israel, he quickly jumped off the bandwagon and said… something else – but not before Nirvana’s bassist rushed in to defend Vedder by saying… something about “peace.”

Both could have been talking about Crimea. No one really knows, especially them.

Radiohead didn’t give Water’s the time of day when he tried to stop them from playing at Park Hayarkon last month. Naturally, a handful of pro-Palestinian bullies showed up and tried to ruin it for everyone else. From the stage, lead singer Thom Yorke fed them some choice words, all of them unprintable – fitting, but unprintable.

Courtney Love, the widow of Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain, signaled her thoughts on the matter by calling Linda Sarsour “disgusting” and “an anti-Semite.” The daytime host of Sirius XM’s Lithium channel, which plays the music of all the above, has officially changed Roger Waters’ name to “The Big Douchebag.” Catchy.

When Rogers first started screaming about Israel a few years ago, I assumed he was a disaffected Jew, rebelling against… whatever. That would at least give his tirades some context – not validity, just context. But he’s not Jewish and he’s not Palestinian. So how and when did he develop the Sarsour-esque tunnel vision that allows a person to ignore the plight of millions of oppressed Muslims and empathize with a Palestinian who sprained his arm throwing rocks at Jewish babies?

I’m convinced the Roger Waters show is just about over. He finally seems to be having the Oops Moment he should have had in 2013. Other musicians are calling him out. And now, an award-winning filmmaker is making a documentary about Waters’ “Jewish problem.” That’s never good news.

Waters also has a legacy problem, a big one. He didn’t see it coming but I bet David Gilmour did. Gilmour, the legendary Pink Floyd Guitarist, undoubtedly jumped ship because Rogers was turning Pink Floyd concerts into anti-Israel rallies.

When Gilmour announced that Pink Floyd was calling it quits for good, he said this:

“Our heyday [was] 95 percent musically fulfilling and joyous and full of fun and laughter. And I certainly don’t want to let the other 5 percent color my view of what was a long and fantastic time together.”

I wonder what he meant by that.

I’m glad Gilmour preserved his own legacy and hopefully the legacy of the band. But it’s too late for Roger Waters. He doesn’t have a Jewish problem; he has a problem with Jews – Jews and facts. That’s his legacy: He played bass (adequately) for a major rock band. He was an anti-Semitic activist. Question is, which sentence will come first?

About the Author
John C. Wolfe is the former Chief Speechwriter to New York Gov. George E. Pataki and author of a new book, “A Day of Clarity.”