Dream Theater Keyboardist Jordan Rudess Almost Played Drums on Pink Floyd’s The Wall

  • Axl Rosenberg

Here’s a crazy story: Jordan Rudess, keyboard wizard for Dream Theater, says he almost played on Pink Floyd’s The Wall. Which would be a weird-enough merging of multiple generations of prog dorks… but stranger still, he says he almost played drums on Pink Floyd’s The Wall.

Rudess tells Prog (note: the magazine published the name of Rudess’ friend as Blue Ocean, but it’s actually Bleu Ocean, so I changed it):

“Many years ago I had a friend by the slightly unusual name of Bleu Ocean. He was a very good drummer; I believe he had been one of the studio drummers for The Monkees, playing with them behind the scenes. Anyway, Bleu got the job of assembling a marching band that would appear on the song Bring The Boys Back Home.

“I was hanging out at Bleu’s home one day and he said, ‘Come on man, come to the studio and watch the recording of the track. You could even be a part of it’. Well, I wasn’t a drummer – by that point I’d have been around 18 years old and had long since decided that keyboards would be my life – but I’d played some very basic snare drum when I was in Third Grade.

“So I went with him to the session. I walked in, someone gave me a drum and some sticks. I’m playing along and having a really good time but as I’m doing so I become aware that Bob Ezrin [producer] is looking at me across the room, eyebrow slightly askew and finally he says: ‘I don’t think so’.

“After he’d picked me out I went and sat in the control room and long before anyone else we got to hear a playback of that track, though of course we had no idea of what it meant or where it would fit in the overall puzzle of Pink Floyd’s album.

“I was fine with Bob’s decision. I was a very poor drummer. But there’s a part of me that still wishes I’d been able to appear on The Wall. That would’ve been very cool indeed.”

“That would’ve been very cool” is an understatement on par with “Dream Theater songs are long.” Dream Theater and Rudess have certainly built a legacy of which they can be proud, but they ain’t no Pink Floyd.

But here’s what confuses me about this: hasn’t Nick Mason been Pink Floyd’s drummer, like, forever? Was there a moment they were considering firing him? Or were they just looking for additional percussionists for some reason? Bobbye Hall (not a typo — everyone peripherally involved with The Wall apparently had a crazy spelling of their name) is credited with playing congas and bongos on the record, but that’s clearly not what Rudess was up to.

ANYWAY. Interesting story, nonetheless.

I can’t find any video of Dream Theater covering any material from The Wall, so here’s a video of them covering all the material from Dark Side of the Moon:

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