Through their constant upheavals, the one member of Pink Floyd that you could rely on was drummer Nick Mason. Although he rarely contributed to songwriting, Mason was an essential mediator between the strong-willed intentions of Roger Waters and the more musically-focused David Gilmour and Richard Wright. Mason is the one member to appear on every Pink Floyd album, and he served as the band’s anchor any time there was conflict or any time a member decided to leave.
Mason has become so intrinsically linked to the Floyd that it seems almost inconceivable that they would have a song without him. If Mason wasn’t on a track, then the only explanation was that there were no drums on the song. But during one especially difficult session, Mason opted to lay down his drumsticks for only the second time in Pink Floyd history.
That was on ‘Mother’, the emotional matriarchal song that closed side one of The Wall. Composed by Roger Waters, ‘Mother’ features a mind-bending collection of time signatures and time changes. According to Waters, Mason held no ego about struggling with the song, opting to hand over the drum stool to Toto drummer Jeff Porcaro.
“It’s got 5/4 bars in it. Nick, to his great credit, has no pretence about that, it was clear that he could not play it,” Waters told Classic Rock in 2009. “He said ‘I can’t play that.’ Or maybe somebody said to him, ‘Nick, maybe you should get somebody else to play this because you’re struggling.’ It was the same thing with ‘Two Suns In The Sunset’. It was in 5/4 so [former Sly Stone and David Bowie drummer] Andy Newmark played that.”
As Waters mentions, the only other song in the Pink Floyd catalogue that doesn’t feature Mason on drums is ‘Two Suns In The Sunset’ from 1983’s The Final Cut. Once again faced with some tricky time changes, Mason decided to step aside once more. When Pink Floyd reconvened in 1986 to record A Momentary Lapse of Reason, Mason was behind the kit for every song once again.
Check out ‘Mother’ down below.