After band founder Syd Barrett suffered mental ill health in the late 1960s, Waters set the band's artistic direction and, along with co-writer, guitarist, and singer David Gilmour, brought Pink Floyd into the limelight, producing a series of albums that remain among the most critically acclaimed and best-selling records of all time.
Waters' relationship with Gilmour grew strained through the late 1970s, however, as Waters exerted more and more creative control over the band. The last Waters-Gilmour collaboration, The Final Cut, was credited as being by Waters, with music performed by Pink Floyd. Waters left the band and a disagreement between Waters and Gilmour over the latter's intention to continue to use the name "Pink Floyd" progressed into a lawsuit. Waters claimed that as the original band "Pink Floyd" consisted of himself, Syd Barrett, Nick Mason and Richard Wright, that the band could not reasonably call itself by the same name now that it was without three of its founding members (Wright had left the band during the recording of The Wall). Another of Waters' arguments was that he had written almost all of Pink Floyd's lyrics, post Barrett. However, Gilmour won the right to use the name "Pink Floyd" and a majority of the band's songs, though Waters did retain the rights to the album The Wall and all of its songs.
Waters embarked on a solo career after Pink Floyd, producing three albums and a movie soundtrack that failed to garner impressive sales. After Amused to Death in 1992, Waters spent much of the 1990s composing an opera entitled Ça Ira. As of 2004 this is incomplete, though parts have been heard publicly.
After the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, Waters staged a gigantic charity concert of The Wall in Berlin on July 21, 1990 to commemorate the end of the division between East and West Germany. The concert took place on Potsdamer Platz, a location which was part of the former "no-man's land" of the Berlin Wall, and featured many guest superstars and at the time was the biggest concert ever staged.
After a long hiatus, he started touring again in the late 1990s, performing live concerts of some of his most well-known work with Pink Floyd, alongside material from his solo career, before sizable audiences. He is also known to spend time working on a new solo album, which has the working title of Heartland, and will be released in 2006. Two possible tracks from this forthcoming album have been released on In the Flesh Live and Flickering Flame: The Solo Years Vol. 1 respectively.
In 2002 Waters performed at a concert organized by the Countryside Alliance in support of fox hunting, although Waters has never publicly held the Tory allegiances that this might suggest, and in fact viciously criticized the Thatcher government's policy in the Falklands War on The Final Cut (especially on the track "Get Your Filthy Hands Off My Desert").
Waters' father, Eric Fletcher Waters, a soldier in the British Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment), lost his life in the World War II Anzio Campaign (which is described in Waters' song "When The Tigers Broke Free"). This loss has been a recurring theme in much of Waters' work.
Miramax Films announced in mid-2004 that a production of "The Wall" is to appear on Broadway, with Waters playing a prominent part in the production of it.
In September 2004, Waters released two new tracks "To Kill The Child" and "Leaving Beirut". These were released only on the Internet. Both of these tracks were inspired by the US/UK invasion of Iraq in 2003. Typically, his message was clear in the lyrics in lines such as: "Oh George! Oh George! That Texas education must have fucked you up when you were very small" (Leaving Beirut), thus ensuring that there will be no mis-interpretation. Roger is a pacifist.