David Gilmour’s musical talent has been shining through ever since he began his career in music. From lead guitarist, to solo artist to producer, David Gilmour is an innate ambassador of guitar music all over the world. Whether you know him from his work with Pink Floyd, his insane guitar skills or his charitable reputation, David Gilmour the man, is the unnamed spirit behind a lot of the rock based music we hear today.
David Jon Gilmour CBE was born on March 6th, 1946 in Cambridge, England. Perhaps one of music’s most talented guitarists and composers, David Gilmour’s blues based, rock inspired guitar work has lead many musical masterpieces.
From instrumental sounds to classic Gilmourish tones and distortions, David Gilmour has raised the bar for many guitarists. Despite having being a low profile performer during his musical career, he has managed to excel and stand out in his endowment.
Known for his clear phrasing and warm sounds, exact note bending skills and feedback oriented treble pick-ups, Gilmour embraces the early Rock n’ Roll style and clean Strat tones of artists such as Hank Marvin. His slow rock riffs, delay/speed intensity licks, fuzz and chain effects distortions over clean sounds has attracted the attention of numerous guitarists and musicians, alike. Gilmour’s musical knowledge extends beyond guitar skills, as he can dominate sounds in the bass, banjo, harmonica, keyboards and synthesizers as well. An avid Fender enthusiast, David Gilmour’s guitar collection includes over 300 instruments, including many of his Pink Floyd playing guitars – like the ’55 Esquire and the ’79 black Stratocaster- Telecasters and a ’55 Les Paul Goldtop between others.
Gilmour’s interest in guitar playing began at The Perse School in the late 50’s.
Upon meeting Syd Barrett in his high school years, Gilmour began learning and exploring the guitar world, unaware that one day in 1968 he would replace Barrett’s role in the legendary band Pink Floyd.
After a short 3-years in his first-ever band Joker’s Wild, Gilmour left in 1966 to be recruited just one year later by Pink Floyd’s drummer Nick Mason.
In ‘68 he joined Pink Floyd as their new front man, vocalist, and lead guitarist and went on to record a total of 14 albums with the band:
1. ‘The Piper at the Gates of Dawn’ (1967)
2. ‘A Saucerful of Secrets’ (1968)
3. ‘Soundtrack from the Film More’ (1969)
4. ‘Ummagumma’ (1969)
5. ‘Atom Heart Mother’ (1970)
6. ‘Meddle’ (1971)
7. ‘Obscured by Clouds’ (1972)
8. ‘The Dark Side of the Moon’ (1973)
9. ‘Wish You Were Here’ (1975)
10. ‘Animals’ (1977)
11. ‘The Wall’ (1979)
12. ‘The Final Cut’ (1983)
13. ‘A Momentary Lapse of Reason’ (1987)
14. ‘The Division Bell’ (1994)
15. ‘P.U.L.S.E.’ (1995)
Pink Floyd’s 8th and 9th releases, ‘The Dark Side of the Moon” and ‘Wish You Were Here’ in 1973 and 1975, respectively, brought enormous recognition to the band and provoked Roger Waters (bassist) to take control over the writing of their follow-up albums “Animals” (1977), and ‘The Wall’ (1979).
In 1978 David Gilmour released his first self-titled solo album, having had drifted from the new Roger Water’s controlled Pink Floyd.
Gilmour’s solo album was close to the Pink Floyd style. According to Richard Mahon, guitarist and co-author of Comfortably Numb: A History of The Wall, Pink Floyd 1978-1981 Gilmour’s first solo album was “the perfect balance of guitar sounds and styles between Pink Floyd’s 1977 release ‘Animals’ and their 1979 release ‘The Wall’”.
The album followed a natural Pink Floydian evolution within its content. It begins with an instrumental introduction (track 1:“Mihalis”) followed by the escalating intensity of Track 2 – a Gilmour cover of the song “There is no way out of here”, originally by a British progressive rock band called Unicorn. Mid-album there is a slowing point with a melodic ballad named “So Far Away”, followed by “Short and Sweet”, which includes a guitar riff that follows the same chord changes as Pink Floyd’s masterpiece “Run Like Hell”.
The album also features “Raise my Rent” a completely instrumental solo by David Gilmour, and a closing song called “I Can’t Breathe Anymore” that mixes it up with clean electric tones, distortion effects and power chords, that are then mellowed into an instrumental passage that concludes the album.
His piece “Comfortably Numb” was finished too late to be included in his first solo album thus was featured in Pink Floyd’s ‘The Wall’ in ‘79.
During this time, keyboardist Richard Wright was fired amidst production of ‘The Wall’, causing further disruptions in the relationship between David Gilmour and Roger Waters during the making of the film for said album, and the recording of their follow-up 1983 release ‘The Final Cut’.
Seeing that ‘The Final Cut’ barely represented Gilmour’s music style, he went on to record and release his second solo album ‘About Face’ in 1984.
Gilmour’s second solo album included more varied sounds aside from that of Pink Floyd, and even added a love song which starred Pete Townshend lyrics called “Love on the air”– a limited topic in the Pink Floyd repertoire.
‘About Face’ also covered several social issues, such as the nuclear bomb attack fear that reigned the world in tracks ‘Out of the Blue’ and ‘Cruise’, the last of which featured reggae passages – an oddity in Gilmour’s bag of sounds.
Another song with lyric contributions by Townshend in his second solo album was “All Lovers Are Deranged”, what Gilmour calls his “heavy metal song”. ‘About Face’ eventually reached the top 20 in the UK charts.
The album’s 2nd track, called “Murder” -homage to John Lennon’s homicide, and a representation of his music with the unmistakable Gilmour touch – is an acoustic tune than mutates into rock, with the signature Pink Floyd sound.
In 1985 Gilmour took control of the band upon Roger Waters’ departure. Waters’ had said Pink Floyd “was a spent force creatively”, but in 1987, following a legal dispute over the Pink Floyd name the continuing and re-instated members of Gilmour, Mason and Wright released ‘A Momentary Lapse of Reason’ which reached #3 on the UK and US charts. In 1994 the follow-up and last studio album ‘The Division Bell’ was released, granting them their first and only Grammy Award for their tune “Marooned”. The final album under the Pink Floyd name, ‘P.U.L.S.E’, came out in 1995 featuring live performances in both CD and video.
Despite continuing the Pink Floyd legacy after the departure of Roger Waters, David Gilmour became a session guitarist and producer for many musicians’ recording projects. His collaborations included projects with B.B. King, Supertramp, Paul McCartney, Elton John in ‘The One’, Paul Rodgers in ‘Tribute to Muddy Waters’ and Roy Harper and Jimmy Page in ‘Whatever happened to Jugula?’, amongst many others. Performing many times for charity purposes and many others just to promote his work, David Gilmour has kept – and still keeps – busy producing, recording, and performing:
In July 1985 he appeared on-stage with ‘The Bryan Ferry Band’ at the Wembley Stadium for a ‘Live Aid’ concert.
Later that year he joined Pete Townshend in Deep End and later supported him and The Who in 1996, the same year Pink Floyd was inducted into the U.S. Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame.
In 1999 Gilmour took part in yet another of Paul McCartney’s projects ‘Run Devil Run’ and toured along with McCartney’s band in an extended collaboration.
Gilmour also appeared on MTV’s Unplugged, presenting an acoustic solo version of Pink Floyd’s “Shine on You Crazy Diamond”.
Additionally, he performed following Robert Wyatt’s Meltdown Festival at the London’s Royal Festival Hall in 2002, presenting three semi-acoustic concerts along with other invited friends and guests.
In 2004, Gilmour played at a 50-year celebration of the Fender Stratocaster at the Wembley Stadium. Guitarist magazine later deemed him the “Best Fender Guitar Player Ever” according to a poll that included other music heroes such as Jimmi Hendrix and Eric Clapton.
One year later Pink Floyd would reunite for a one-time performance at the Live 8 charity concert in London’s Hyde Park. It was this same year that the band was inducted, this time, into UK’s Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame and David Gilmour was made a CBE for his services to Music by the Order of the British Empire.
David Gilmour released his third solo album, ‘On an Island’, in 2006. This follow-up made the UK charts at #1, and the touring for the new solo album included guest musicians such as Richard Wright, Dick Parry and Guy Pratt.
‘Remember That Night – Live at the Royal Albert Hall’ was released in September of 2007 featuring an ‘On an Island’ performance in Gdansk’s 26th Anniversary of Solidarity concert. The show filmed by director Gavin Elder, starred composer Zbigniew Preisner’s orchestra, whose orchestrations were created in base to Gilmour’s new solo album.
Gilmour’s musical talent has been shining through ever since he began his career in music. From lead guitarist, to solo artist to producer, David Gilmour is an innate ambassador of guitar music all over the world. Whether you know him from his work with Pink Floyd, his insane guitar skills or his charitable reputation, David Gilmour the man, is the unnamed spirit behind a lot of the rock music we hear today.