Roger Waters Being Dropped from BMG Over Israel Comments
Roger Waters is being dropped by music publisher BMG due to his various comments about Israel.
This news was reported by Variety, which notes it’s the latest significant move by the Berlin-based BMG since Thomas Coesfeld took over following the exit of founding CEO Hartwig Masuch. Coesfeld previously served as BMG’s chief financial officer.
In recent years, Waters has made headlines over his comments related to Israel, as well as the United States and the ongoing war in Ukraine. In February 2023, German newspaper Berliner Zeitung published an interview with Waters, which he then translated and shared on his official website. He prefaced the interview with a personal message on his website saying, in part, “Against the backdrop of the outrageous and despicable smear campaign by the Israeli Lobby to denounce me as an anti-semite, which I am not, never have been and never will be.” Waters also alleged the “Israeli Lobby” tried to cancel his “85% sold out series of concerts in Germany.”
In the Berliner Zeitung interview, Waters defends Russian President Vladimir Putin and says people are “brainwashed” into seeing him as the aggressor in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. Additionally, he claims there’s Nazism in Ukraine and that “Israelis are committing genocide.”
Waters and His 2023 Concert Cancelation
February 2023 also saw the very public cancelation of a Waters concert in Frankfurt, Germany. When Waters’ concert was initially canceled, Frankfurt City Council issued a statement saying, in part, “The background to the cancellation is the persistently anti-Israel attitude of the former Pink Floyd frontman, who is considered one of the most far-reaching Anti-Semites of the world. He repeatedly called for a cultural boycott [of] Israel and drew comparisons to the apartheid regime of South Africa.”
The show was scheduled to take place at the Festhalle Concert Hall on May 28, 2023. Prog noted during the time of this dispute, “The city council share a 60% ownership of the venue along with Hesse’s state government, and sought legal permission to shut down the show … The statement also noted the historical significance of the venue, Festhalle, being the site where 3,000 Jewish men were held under arrest in 1938 ahead of their deportation to concentration camps following Kristallnacht, the violent anti-Jewish demonstrations which saw Nazis destroy Jewish-owned stores, buildings and synagogues.”
In April 2023, an administrative court ruled Waters had the right to perform his scheduled concert. At that time, The Guardian noted, “While acknowledging that aspects of his show were ‘tasteless’ and obviously lent on symbolism inspired by the Nazi regime, [Frankfurt’s administrative court] cited artistic freedom among its main reasons for the decision … City authorities in Frankfurt and elsewhere in Germany had objected to the concert on the grounds that a previous tour had featured as part of the stage show a balloon shaped like a pig depicting the Star of David and various company logos.”
Waters’ Words Impacting Pink Floyd
Along with being dropped from his publisher, Variety also noted the many controversial comments made by Waters have “driven off several suitors” interested in buying the Pink Floyd catalog. The outlet noted the pricetag for the catalog is a reported $500 million.
It was first reported in May 2022 by Bloomberg that the legendary catalog was up for sale. In October 2022, Variety reported at least one potential buyer pulled out of a potential sale due to an interview Waters gave to Rolling Stone. Among Waters’ many incendiary comments, he said he believes he’s on a “Kill List” that is supported by the government of Ukraine.