Roger Waters admitted he once “went apeshit” before a performance of his The Wall Live show, when he realized the children’s choir assembled to sing parts of “Another Brick in the Wall (Part II)” weren’t the kind of kids he normally brought in.
As a result of his own subsistence-level upbringing, Waters wanted to ensure that the choir consisted of local disadvantaged youths at every stop on the tour. While preparing for a performance in San Diego, however, he knew something was wrong.
“I looked at these kids, and I thought, ‘These are not my kids,’” Waters told Marc Maron in a recent episode of the WTF With Marc Maron Podcast. “So I found out that they were the children of the executives from the arena who thought it would be fun for their kids to be part of the show. … So I went apeshit and got rid of them all. ‘Find me some proper kids!’ So these kids turned up, and I went, ‘These are more like it. These are my kids, this is my constituency.’”
While preselected choirs were given a DVD in advance so they could learn a few dance steps, Waters had only half an hour to prepare the replacement group. That done, he asked to meet the woman who was looking after the children. “I took her to one side, I said, ‘How did you find these children in this short space of time? Thank you so much.’ … She said, ‘They’re my clients.’ And I went, ‘What do you mean they’re your clients?’ And she said, ‘They’re my clients, I see them every day.’ To cut a long story short, she drove a van delivering free meals. These are children who don’t have enough to eat, whose parents can’t feed them. And this lady was part of the social services, and every day she would deliver something to eat to each of these 15 kids. And it breaks your fucking heart.”
Waters noted that he always had enough to eat as a child and was aware that many others had it worse than him. “I was freezing cold every night in the winter; there was no central heating or anything like that, so you were cold till you got down to the kitchen,” he recalled. “My grandmother and my mother spent every Sunday afternoon darning socks because we didn’t buy new stuff, we mended the old stuff. I wore my brother’s clothes and it was hand-me-downs in there.”
He said that his mom, a teacher, “taught kids who all through the winter walked to school through six inches of snow with no shoes or nothing on their feet. … They were poor and they had didn’t have enough to eat. … Everywhere I go with The Wall, whenever we do ‘Brick II,’ I always have local children come, and I always try and get them from the most disadvantaged background that I can find.”