Snowy White Recalls Controversial Pink Floyd Show
Onetime Pink Floyd touring guitarist Snowy White recalled the controversial last show of their Animals tour in 1977. By that time he’d had a taste of the tension between Roger Waters and David Gilmour, but the pressure reached new heights in Montreal, at the end of the road trip, when Waters spat on a fan and Gilmour later walked offstage and refused to return for the encore.
“I’m not sure they knew what to expect,” White told Rolling Stone of starting rehearsals for the tour after being given the gig without an audition. “I didn’t think much of it at the time. I just went and played. But when I think back, it must have been a bit strange to have a new guy there. The first rehearsal was in November 1976. Dave and Roger had an argument in front of me. … We were supposed to start with ‘Sheep,’ and I’m playing the bass and doing the intro. There’s this argument going on. It wasn’t a real sort of catfight, it was just words. I thought, ‘Hmmm. What have I let myself in for?’ But I stuck around.”
He said he wasn't overly concerned as he went onstage in Germany for the first show of the tour. “I had to walk on on my own and start the show, playing bass," he recalled. "The cue was an airplane flying over the top, and then I had to walk on and start playing. I was actually concentrating hard on just getting my parts right, so I didn’t really take notes. I know it sounds funny, but it never really bothered me. It never occurred to me that it was anything special. I just wanted to go and play the right thing.”
Later, as Pink Floyd played stadiums in the U.S., he remembered thinking: “It would be nice to play some blues. ... It didn’t occur to me that I was in a big, successful band and I should be in awe. I’m just too normal. I was like, ‘It’s nice, but it’s not blues.’”
One thing White did enjoy about the final show was that he was allowed to “let it rip a bit” with a blues jam at the end – by which time Gilmour had left the stage. “It wasn’t very good vibes for some reason,” he said. “That was the show where I looked to my left and I could see Roger spitting at one of the audience members. I thought, ‘What’s he doing?’ … But it was all a bit funny vibes. [Gilmour] went and stood by the mixer. I was playing away and having fun. Then a guitar tech came up and said, ‘I’ve got to take your guitar off you.’ I look around and we’re playing away, but the crew are dismantling the gear. I stopped playing. Rick [Wright] stopped playing. It ended up with Nick [Mason] on snare and hi-hat. That is how the tour ended.”
Last year, Gilmour recalled the experience he had at the same show. “The only time I’ve ever seen Pink Floyd live was the encore in Montreal stadium in 1977 – the last gig of the Animals tour, the one that Roger spat on someone, I think," he said. "I was so pissed off about something, and I can’t even remember what it was, that I refused to play the encore, and went out to the mixing desk to watch whatever encore it was, with Snowy playing [my] parts. That was the only moment I saw a tiny bit.”