Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters ‘mocked musician’s grandmother who died in Holocaust’

Roger Waters has long faced criticism for the perceived anti-Jewish tone of his comments
Roger Waters, photographed at Wembley Arena in London in 2013, has long faced criticism for the perceived anti-Jewish tone of his comments - Kevin Nixon/Classic Rock/Future

The former Pink Floyd star Roger Waters mocked a musician’s grandmother who died in the Holocaust, a new documentary alleges.

He also allegedly proposed writing “dirty k---”, a highly offensive racial slur, on an inflatable pig to be floated above one of his concerts.

Former colleagues have given interviews in which they claim the singer-songwriter made numerous humiliating and demeaning comments to Jewish people in his entourage.

In one instance, he allegedly referred to his former agent as a “f---ing Jew”.

A former bandmate also claims that Jewish associates of Waters were fearful of their racial heritage becoming known. He claims one told him not to reveal it to Waters because it could “jeopardise my job”.

The 80-year-old multi-millionaire has long faced criticism for the perceived anti-Jewish tone of both his public comments and the content of his concerts.

Earlier this year, Polly Samson, the wife of Waters’ former original Pink Floyd bandmate, David Gilmour, called him “anti-Semitic to your rotten core”, which Gilmour endorsed, saying: “Every word demonstrably true.”

A vociferous campaigner for Palestinian rights, Waters has consistently denied that he is an anti-Semite.

However, the new allegations, made in a documentary by the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism (CAA), claim to show evidence of direct anti-Semitism against people of Jewish background.

It has prompted calls for venues and other collaborators to cease working with him.

Allegations against Waters

Titled The Dark Side of Roger Waters, the documentary quotes the saxophonist Norbert Statchel, who has toured with Waters.

He claims that during a discussion in 2002, after explaining that his family were Ashkenazi Jews and Holocaust survivors from Minsk and Poland, Waters asked if he had any relatives on his father’s side, to which Mr Norbert replied: “Not that I’m aware of; I think most of them were killed.”

He claims Waters then said: “Oh, I can help you feel like you’re meeting your long-lost relatives. I can introduce you to your dead grandmother.”

The star then allegedly put on an impression of a “Polish peasant woman”, and said: “Now you’ve met your grandmother. How do you feel now?”

Meanwhile, in an email from March 2010, Waters discusses the inflatable pig that floats above many of his concerts.

Dave Gilmour and Polly Samson have accused Roger Waters of anti-Semitism
Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour and his wife Polly Samson have accused Roger Waters of anti-Semitism - Warren Allott for The Telegraph

He has previously performed beneath a pig that featured the Star of David.

Separately, Mr Statchel claims that during a meal while on tour in Lebanon in 2002, Waters became angry about the multitude of vegetarian dishes, saying: “What’s with this? This is Jew food. What’s with the Jew food. Take away the Jew food.”

Bob Ezrin, who co-produced The Wall album, tells the documentary that Waters once delivered what he described as a “ditty” about the late agent Bryan Morrison, who was Jewish, the last line of which was “cos Morry is f------ Jew”, while smiling.

Mr Statchel also claims that he overheard an “argument”, also in 2002, between Waters and a former girlfriend in which he denied that the Jews were a race, saying: “No, they’re white European men that grow beards and they practise the religion Judaism but they’re no different than me, they have no difference in their background or their history or their culture or anything.”

Waters, who is scheduled to play at the Palladium in London on Oct 8 and 9, has not responded for a request to comment on the allegations.

‘Is Roger Waters an anti-Semite?’

Gideon Falter, the chief executive of the CAA, said: “Roger Waters has repeatedly used his enormous platform to bait Jews, but he always claims that he is not anti-Semitic.

“We believed that there was further evidence out there to the contrary, and the release of The Dark Side of Roger Waters now puts the evidence we obtained in the hands of the public.

“It is hard to imagine a rockstar emblazoning the N-word above their concerts, but Mr Waters demanded that his crew do exactly that with the K-word. Not only that, but he seems to have spent time humiliating and harassing his Jewish staff.

“One cannot help but watch this film and wonder what kind of person uses their power to this effect. Is Roger Waters an anti-Semite? Now people can make up their own minds.”

The CAA investigation was led by John Ware, a veteran television journalist who led the BBC Panorama expose of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn.

Waters quit Pink Floyd in 1985, with Gilmour and Nick Mason, the only surviving members, owning the band’s name.

In an interview with The Telegraph earlier this year, Waters described them as “Faux Floyd” and “not artists”, taking credit for writing the band’s hits.

He has repeatedly compared Israel to the Nazis, which is a breach of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism.

In 2021, he also claimed accusations of anti-Semitism is used as a “smear sword” by people at the “behest of the Israeli government”.

Referring to the criticisms of anti-Semitism against him, at a recent concert Waters said: “They’re trying to cancel me like they cancelled Jeremy Corbyn and Julian Assange,” adding that the furore was “all coming from Tel Aviv, promise you”.