Michael Jackson Earth Song and the Pink Floyd connection – conclusion!

It’s time to conclude our Michael Jackson and Pink Floyd connection series. We have taken a look at how Michael borrowed ideas from Pink Floyd for his performance of “Earth Song”, “Black or White” as well as the military marching theme and dance for “They don’t care about us”. The story get’s more interesting though, especially when we look at the original and composition of the History albums “Earth Song” and it’s connection not only to Pink Floyd but to “Bad” too!

Pink Floyd’s Bassist composed the bass line of “Earth Song”

Did you know that after the great Roger Waters, the main song writer and the bassist of Pink Floyd left the super group and went solo the group continued to tour and the rest of the band asked GUY PRATT to join them on tour playing bass guitar. It’s Guy Pratt playing bass on PULSE as well as every live performance of Pink Floyd (except for the LIVE 8 reunion show).

Guy played bass on many tracks for Madonna as well (including “Like a Prayer”). Put simply, Pink Floyd’s bassist composed the bass line of “Earth Song” and the story is a really funny one! When you play an instrument on a Michael Jackson track you probably won’t meet the star. You will turn up and play your interpretation and then leave. At the same time another 10 musicians might come and play the same part and you might only find out that you were picked when the album is actually released and you see your name on the credits!

During “Earth Song” Guy Pratt mentioned this and basically told them that if Michael was in the studio it would be a lot easier … little did he know that Michael was hiding behind the mixing desk! He tells the story here:

Earth Song … what a song!

Guy Pratt was asked by Michael’s producer Bill Bottrell to come in an jump on “Earth Song” because he was in town.

The story goes like this:

Pratt basically listened to Michael’s other song “BAD”, copied the bass line from that and just put it onto Earth Song in the home that Michael would like it and wouldn’t know why!

The exact quote, taken from BASS GUITAR MAGAZINE goes something like this:

You’ve played on huge hits, including Madonna’s “Like a Prayer” [Like a Prayer, Sire, 1988], in which you double the synth-bass, and Michael Jackson’s “Earth Song” [HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book I, Epic, 1995]. What was it like working on them?

“Like a Prayer” was amazing—Madonna had tons of input. It was great to get away with such an insane performance: The whole middle and end section of the song is basically bass. It’s a total octave-pedal freakout, like a punk Pino Palladino. I used Spectors with Madonna, but nowadays I find them a bit hi-fi. “Earth Song” was another massive octave-pedal thing. I basically stole the bass line from “Bad” because I figured Michael would like it, but wouldn’t know why!

That is quite funny when you think about it! Now, Guy Pratt is a beer drinking straight talking guy, he’s basically the best in the business so he’s going to speak straight and he speaks straight when it comes to his remuneration for playing the track too … but we’ll come to that in a minute.

As I’ve said previously, I’m a fan of Pink Floyd and I’m especially a fan of PULSE. When I first heard that he had performed the bass on a History album track – my mind first said “really?!” – then, after listening to PULSE so much deduced that it could on be “Earth Song”, a classic bass, thick sound, as opposed to an electronic bass like “Scream”, for example. Maybe that’s one of the reasons why I enjoyed the song so much.

The first time we listened to the History album I said to my brother “The best two songs on the album are “Earth Song” and “Stranger in Moscow”. He said it was “You are not alone”. As it goes, they weren’t bad predictions because “You are not alone” went to number 1 and “Earth Song” was Christmas number 1 and one of (if not “the”) biggest hit in Europe of all time.

“It was the biggest single ever in Europe and I never got paid!”

By the way, Guy Pratt wasn’t paid for his work! The quote goes like this: “Bill knew I was in town he said, “Let’s get him in” and so I did ‘Earth Song’ as well. It was the biggest single ever in Europe and I never got paid!”. The funny thing about this is that the interviewer than asked “Oh, so you went for a flat fee then?” to which Guy Pratt reiterated: “No. I never got paid!

I hope he got paid in the end because he is such a talent and an amazing musician! What a bass line!

Here he is, Guy Pratt:

Pretty good, eh!?

Earth Song and the Pink Floyd connection – Conclusion

Michael Jackson and Pink Floyd are at the top of Entertainment, in terms of sales, in terms of live performance, in terms of everything. We see Pink Floyd’s set designer move to the new Michael Jackson tour, we see “The Wall” in Michael’s show as well as hear “Pink Floyd’s bass” in “Earth Song”

I had a chance to work with Pink Floyd’s drummer, Nick Mason. What a legend! A very nice guy. I found myself in his house and even hitting his drums and having a great time. We talked about and touched on things I have talked to you about and we decided to put a little bit of Michael Jackson into the idea we were working on for a live show. With a smile he said “You should of told me earlier! I would have mentioned it to him when I met him a few weeks back in Bahrain!” (at the F1 GP)

By Anthony King (c)

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