Personalities | David Gilmour | Pink Floyd Pioneer | Guitar Heroes
As the guitarist in Pink Floyd, David Gilmour’s place in the pantheon of guitar heroes is guaranteed. But it’s not simply his playing on albums like The Dark Side Of The Moon that has assured his status.
His meticulous attention to the sound and tone of his guitar in the studio and in concert has earned the universal admiration of guitarists, as well as millions of Pink Floyd fans.
Gilmour was born in Cambridge in 1946 and as a teenager, he was friends with Syd Barrett, with whom he learned to play guitar, and Roger Waters. When Barrett and Waters moved to London in the early 1960s, where they formed Pink Floyd with Richard Wright and Nick Mason, Gilmour stayed in Cambridge and played with local band Joker’s Wild.
At the beginning of 1968, Gilmour was asked by Waters to join Pink Floyd as an additional guitarist to cover for Barrett, whose performances and behaviour were becoming increasingly erratic. Within weeks, Barrett left the group and Gilmour became lead guitarist. The band had already started work on their second album, A Saucerful Of Secrets (1968), and Gilmour helped to structure the title track. Gilmour played an important instrumental and vocal role in the band compositions that formed the major part of Atom Heart Mother (1970) and Meddle (1971), as well as contributing songs of his own. And although Waters was responsible for the underlying concept behind the band’s defining album, The Dark Side Of The Moon (1973), Gilmour’s carefully constructed guitar parts and solos, particularly on ‘Time’ and ‘Money’, were a distinctive element of the Pink Floyd sound. While most guitarists created their sound from overdriven distortion, Gilmour focused on getting a strong, clean tone from his guitar that he then blended with a variety of effects pedals.
He developed his sound further on Wish You Were Here (1975). His evocative, melancholic playing on ‘Shine On You Crazy Diamond’ set the atmosphere for the album’s centrepiece. He also co-wrote the acoustic ‘Wish You Were Here’ with Waters. While Waters tightened his grip on the band for Animals (1977), Gilmour’s guitar continued to characterize lengthy tracks like ‘Dogs’ and ‘Sheep’, as Gilmour shared much of the production work with Waters.
By the time of The Wall (1979), Waters had assumed complete control over Pink Floyd and Gilmour’s expressive scope was becoming limited. Nevertheless, his guitar break on ‘Another Brick In The Wall Part 2’ is often cited as the best example of his ‘clean’ tone, and his monumental solo on ‘Comfortably Numb’ (which he co-wrote) was voted the finest guitar solo of all time by listeners to digital radio station Planet Rock in 2006. Gilmour’s dissatisfaction with the recording of The Final Cut (1983) was such that he had his production credit removed. He had released his first solo album, David Gilmour, in 1978 and in 1984, released his second, About Face, which was accompanied by a tour of Europe and America.
In 1986, Waters...
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