Have a Cigar – Pink Floyd/Roy Harper

Pink Floyd had just had a monster album – Dark Side Of The Moon – and were recording the follow-up at Abbey Road studio.

Roy Harper was also recording at Abbey Road at the same time.

Roy and Pink Floyd had a connection through Pete Jenner who was producing Roy and who had been Pink Floyd’s manager.

Both Roy and Pink Floyd were signed to EMIs prestigious Harvest label. There was a lot of mutual respect and Dave Gilmour and Roy became good friends.

At that time a great number of big names were supporting Roy including Dave Gilmour, Jimmy Page and Keith Moon.

Roger Waters had written Have a Cigar, a strong song about the greed of corporate managers in the music business (but could apply to big business anywhere), but couldn’t get the vocals to sound right.

Roy offered to do them and it came out sounding great.

It was the only Pink Floyd track to feature a guest singer singing actual lyrics.

The track itself is a brilliant heavily riffed Rock song. A great song.

“Have A Cigar”

Come in here, dear boy, have a cigar.
You’re gonna go far, you’re gonna fly high,
You’re never gonna die,
You’re gonna make it if you try;
They’re gonna love you.

Well, I’ve always had a deep respect,
And I mean that most sincere.
The band is just fantastic,
That is really what I think.
Oh by the way, which one’s Pink?

And did we tell you the name of the game, boy?
We call it Riding the Gravy Train.

We’re just knocked out.
We heard about the sell out.
You gotta get an album out,
You owe it to the people.
We’re so happy we can hardly count.

Everybody else is just green,
Have you seen the chart?
It’s a hell of a start,
It could be made into a monster
If we all pull together as a team.

And did we tell you the name of the game, boy?
We call it Riding the Gravy Train.

10 thoughts on “Have a Cigar – Pink Floyd/Roy Harper

  1. The story is that Roger Waters wasn’t that bothered about it as a song, he himself wasn’t that impressed with it and felt he hadn’t fleshed it out lyrically enough which is why he let it go so easily. Gilmour had given it a shot, but rather too half-heartedly for Roger’s liking, and couldn’t get it together. I’ve no idea why Roger didn’t do it himself and can suppose because he didn’t like it all that much.
    It was a question of what fitted where as they already had two other much superior tracks worked out, “Raving And Drooling” an early title for “Sheep” and “Gotta Be Crazy” an early title for “Dogs”, both of which had already been performed live on their last UK tour and both of which formed the centrepiece of their next album “Animals”.

    I think it’s fair to say that by this time Keith Moon was long gone from Roy’s orbit in terms of any supporting him. Moon left UK for Los Angeles in Spring 1974 and this recording was made around spring 1975, a year later. Jimmy Page had also drifted off in mid 1974 following his short sabbatical from Led Zeppelin for new LZ recordings, with the entirety of 1975 being dedicated to a monster tour in USA, starting with an unprecedented five nights at London’s Earls Court Arena. He was fully into “Physical Graffiti” mode and certainly didn’t have any more time to spare on Roy Harper.

    Harper, by all accounts never got paid for his Floyd session, but did get a leg up to subsequently appearing somewhere on the bill at that summer’s Knebworth. I don’t know if Freddy Bannister, the promoter, paid him for that either.

    This subject is discussed in the book “Pink Floyd: In The Flesh – the complete performance history”, Bloomsbury Publishing Plc, 1997.
    ISBN: 0 74745 3293 1

    1. I saw Roy play with Keith Moon, Jimmy Page and Ronnie Lane (and Bonzo goofin’ around) in Feb 1974 at the Rainbow. A highly memorable event.
      Then later that year I saw Roy in Hyde Park with Dave Gilmour and John Paul Jones.
      Great times.

      1. I remember that Plant was around at that Rainbow gig.
        Hyde Park, also with Edgar Broughton. That gig was quite loud and Gilmour’s guitar was very heavy.

  2. Plant was around at the Rainbow but did not contribute. Elton John turned up but Nick threw wine over him and he left. It was quite a celeb event. I was there for the afternoon and soundcheck too.
    The Hyde Park gig was a great one. It was quite heavy and the band sounded quite tight considering how little time they’d had together.

    1. I’m sure I saw Plant at some point standing in the wings with a tambourine, just being Robert Plant, as you do. I had been sitting with Richard Wright just a couple of seats along from Plant and Peter Grant and at some point Plant got up and disappeared and as my memory serves … etc.

      Found my notes on Have A Cigar.
      Waters’ voice was shot coming to the end of the sessions. Recording the track Shine On… had been problematic for him. Roy happened to be next door and somebody, possibly Waters suggested him. Waters had hoped the others would say oh, no Rog, you do it. They didn’t and said oh terrific. It seems to be a decision Waters has bitterly regretted, despite successful takes of both Harper and Gilmour duetting the vocals.

      1. I don’t remember seeing Plant there that night but he might well have been there was quite a melee.
        That is what I’d heard about Roger’s voice too. An interesting idea to bring Roy in. More likely that it was Gilmour’s idea I would have thought. They were buddies.

  3. So I went and watched again the official Pink Floyd documentary, titled “The Story Of Wish You Were Here” published in 2012. This is of course some fifteen years after the publishing of the book, so goodness knows what kind of shape any of these people’s memories are in. In it Roy Harper states that it was he whom had suggested himself to sing Have A Cigar. Maybe’s. But I really doubt it. Maybe he talked to the studio janitor.
    I should have previously written as “takes of both Waters and Gilmour duetting the vocals” and not as written Harper and Gilmour. Lol how to confuse an issue in one easy lesson.
    As always indeed, Roger still hates the way Roy sang it and deeply regrets not doing it himself. So no changes there then. At least some things remain a constant.

    1. Who knows what happened? Roy always told me that they asked him because they could not get it right. They were all friends back then recording in studios next to each other. They were in and out all of the time. It was probably an aside that Roy jumped on. Who knows?
      I imagine Roger hates a lot of things. He seems very bitter and resentful.
      As for me – I love the track and I love the way Roy did it. I thought it worked well.

      1. I’m only here cos the taxi’s late. Very late. Seven minutes late. They’ll be getting some Roger Waters style ire, I can tell you. No tip tonight for that joker. Tip? Get a bloody watch pal!

        Anyway, Have A Cigar.
        Maybe that’s because you only know that one version. You need to hear the alternative. You see, the lyrics are not happy song lyrics. There’s no humour, but there is caustic sarcasm. And it’s not Roy’s singing voice or anything to do with that where Roger has a beef with, but the almost smiling nature of expression in Roy’s voice. I can see what Roger means and it’s as if Roy cheapened it a little by that mannerism. It’s the sort of thing someone would do to a Who track on the Tommy Soundtrack version – they’d camp it up a bit. Like what Paul Nicholas did to Entwistle’s Cousin Kevin song – if you know it.
        So no, that wasn’t what Roger wanted and he was after a more controlled downbeat approach with a biting approach towards the lyrics. He said he never understood why he was in such a rush. I think he was also sick fed up being around all these people all the time – he couldn’t stand them! So anything to get out of there.

      2. The biting satire came across to me but I can understand that Roger might not have been happy. It is not easy giving yourself to someone else’s interpretation is it? They are never quite how you would want it.
        I am familiar with Cousin Kevin but I don’t think Roy did a similar job to that did he?

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