When Syd Barrett "left" the group (due to his erratic behaviour, the band chose not to pick Barrett up one night for a gig ), Gilmour by default assumed the role of the band's lead guitarist and shared lead vocal duties with bassist Roger Waters and keyboard player Richard Wright in Barrett's stead. However, after the back-to-back successes of The Dark Side of the Moon and then Wish You Were Here, Waters took more control over the band, writing most of Animals and The Wall by himself. Wright was fired during The Wall sessions and the relationship between Gilmour and Waters would further deteriorate during the making of The Wall film and the 1983 Pink Floyd album The Final Cut.
After recording "Animals", Gilmour thought that his musical influence had been underused, and channelled his ideas into his self-titled first solo album (1978), which showcases his signature guitar style, as well as underscoring his songwriting skills. A tune written during the finishing stages of this album, but too late to be used, became "Comfortably Numb" on The Wall.
The negative atmosphere surrounding the creation of The Wall album and film, compounded by The Final Cut's virtually being a Roger Waters solo album, led Gilmour to produce his second solo album About Face in 1984. He used it to express his feelings about a range of topics, from the murder of John Lennon, to his relationship with Waters. He has since admitted that he also used the album to distance himself from Pink Floyd. He toured Europe and the US along with support act The Television Personalities, who later disappeared from the line-up after revealing Syd Barrett's address on stage. Mason and Wright also played on the UK leg of the tour, which despite some cancellations eventually turned a profit. When he returned from touring, Gilmour played guitar with a range of artists, and also produced The Dream Academy, who had a top ten hit with "Life in a Northern Town".
In 1985, Waters declared that Pink Floyd was "a spent force creatively". However, in 1986, Gilmour and drummer Nick Mason issued a press release stating that Waters had quit the band and they intended to continue without him. Gilmour assumed full control of the group and produced A Momentary Lapse of Reason in 1987 with some contributions from Mason and Richard Wright. Wright officially rejoined the band after the release of the album for a lengthy world tour and helped create 1994's The Division Bell as well. Gilmour explained:
“ I had a number of problems with the direction of the band in our recent past, before Roger left. I thought the songs were very wordy and that, because the specific meanings of those words were so important, the music became a mere vehicle for lyrics, and not a very inspiring one. Dark Side of the Moon and Wish You Were Here were so successful not just because of Roger's contributions, but also because there was a better balance between the music and the lyrics than there has been in more recent albums. That's what I'm trying to do with A Momentary Lapse of Reason; more focus on the music, restore the balance. ”
In 1986, Gilmour purchased the houseboat Astoria which is moored on the River Thames near Hampton Court, and transformed it into a recording studio. The majority of the two most recent Pink Floyd albums, as well as Gilmour's 2006 solo release On an Island, were recorded there.
On 2 July 2005, Gilmour played with Pink Floyd — including Roger Waters — at Live 8. The performance caused a temporary 1343% sales increase of Pink Floyd's album Echoes: The Best of Pink Floyd. Gilmour donated all of his resulting profits to charities that reflect the goals of Live 8 saying:
“ Though the main objective has been to raise consciousness and put pressure on the G8 leaders, I will not profit from the concert. This is money that should be used to save lives. ”
Shortly after, he called upon all artists experiencing a surge in sales from Live 8 performances to donate the extra revenue to Live 8 fund-raising. After the Live 8 concert, Pink Floyd were offered £150 million to tour the United States, but the band turned down the offer.
On 3 February 2006, he announced in an interview with the Italian newspaper La Repubblica that Pink Floyd would most likely never tour or write material together again. He said:
“ I think enough is enough. I am 60 years old. I don't have the will to work as much anymore. Pink Floyd was an important part in my life, I have had a wonderful time, but it's over. For me it's much less complicated to work alone. ”
He said that by agreeing to Live 8, he had ensured the story of Floyd would not end on a sour note.
“ There was more than one reason, firstly to support the cause. The second one is the energy consuming an uncomfortable relationship between Roger and me that I was carrying along in my heart. That is why we wanted to perform and to leave the trash behind. Thirdly, I might have regretted it if I declined. ”
On 20 February 2006, Gilmour commented again on Pink Floyd's future when he was interviewed by Billboard.com, stating, "Who knows? I have no plans at all to do that. My plans are to do my concerts and put my solo record out."
In December 2006, Gilmour released a tribute to Syd Barrett, who had died in July that year, in the form of his own version of Pink Floyd's first single "Arnold Layne". Recorded live at London's Royal Albert Hall, the CD single featured versions of the song performed by Pink Floyd's keyboard player (and Gilmour's band member) Richard Wright and special guest artist David Bowie. The single entered the UK Top 75 charts at number nineteen and remained steady for three weeks.
Since their Live 8 appearance in 2005, Gilmour has repeatedly said that there will be no Pink Floyd reunion. However, in a 2007 interview with Phil Manzanera, he stated that he's "not done with it yet" and that he plans on doing "something" in the future. With the death of Pink Floyd keyboardist Richard Wright in September 2008, another reunion of the core group members became impossible. Gilmour said of Wright: "In the welter of arguments about who or what was Pink Floyd, Rick's enormous input was frequently forgotten. He was gentle, unassuming and private but his soulful voice and playing were vital, magical components of our most recognised Pink Floyd sound. Like Rick, I don't find it easy to express my feelings in words, but I loved him and will miss him enormously. I have never played with anyone quite like him."
Gilmour is best known for his lead guitar work. Gilmour's solo style is often characterised by blues-influenced phrasing, expressive note bends and sustain. In 2005, Gilmour was rated the 82nd greatest guitarist by Rolling Stone [the guitar gallows deems this as a HORRIBLE oversight by the always very left-wing and opinionated hag-rag of a mag]. The website Digital Dream Door ranked Gilmour as the fourteenth greatest rock guitarist [much more on the mark; GG]. In January 2007, Guitar World readers voted Gilmour's solos, "Comfortably Numb", "Time" and "Money" into the top 100 Greatest Guitar Solos ("Comfortably Numb" was voted the 4th greatest solo of all time , "Time" was voted the 21st greatest solo of all time and "Money" was voted the 62nd greatest solo of all time .
In his early career with Pink Floyd, Gilmour played a multitude of Fender Stratocasters. One of his popular guitar solos ("Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2") was played on a Gibson Les Paul Gold Top guitar equipped with Bigsby tremolo bar and P-90 pickups. In 1996, Gilmour was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Pink Floyd. Gilmour's solo on "Comfortably Numb" was voted as one of the greatest guitar solos of all time in several polls by listeners and critics.
Although mainly known for his guitar work, Gilmour is also a proficient multi-instrumentalist. He also plays bass guitar (which he did on some Pink Floyd tracks), keyboards, banjo, harmonica, drums (as heard on the Syd Barrett solo track "Dominoes", and other songs where he opted to play all the instruments) and lately, the saxophone.
Gilmour has been associated with various charity organisations. In May 2003, Gilmour sold his house in Little Venice to the ninth Earl Spencer and donated the proceeds worth £3.6 million to Crisis to help fund a housing project for the homeless. Apart from Crisis, other Charities to which Gilmour has lent support include Oxfam, the European Union Mental Health and Illness Association, Greenpeace, Amnesty International, The Lung Foundation, and Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy. He also donated £25,000 to the Save the Rhino foundation in exchange for Douglas Adams name suggestion for the album that became The Division Bell.
Apart from music, Gilmour is also an experienced pilot and aviation enthusiast. Under the aegis of his company, Intrepid Aviation, he had amassed a collection of historical aircraft. He later decided to sell the company, as his venture, which had started as a hobby was becoming too commercial for him to handle. In an interview to BBC, he stated:
“ Intrepid Aviation was a way for me to make my hobby pay for itself a little bit, but gradually over a few years Intrepid Aviation became a business because you have to be businesslike about it. Suddenly I found instead of it being a hobby and me enjoying myself, it was a business and so I sold it. I don't have Intrepid Aviation any more. I just have a nice old bi-plane that I pop up, wander around the skies in sometimes...”
On 22 May 2008, Gilmour won the 2008 Ivor Novello Lifetime Contribution Award.
Later, he was awarded for outstanding contribution for music by Q Awards. He dedicated his award to his recently departed bandmate Richard Wright.
On 11 November 2009, Gilmour received an honorary doctorate from the Anglia Ruskin University.
David Jon Gilmour CBE (born 6 March 1946) is an English musician, best known as the guitarist, lead singer, and one of the main songwriters in the rock band Pink Floyd. In addition to his work with Pink Floyd, Gilmour has worked as a record producer for a variety of artists, and has enjoyed a successful career as a solo artist. Gilmour has been actively involved with many charity organizations over the course of his career. In 2003, he was appointed CBE for services to music and philanthropy and was awarded with the Outstanding Contribution title at the 2008 Q Awards.
Gilmour was born in Cambridge, England. His father, Douglas Gilmour, was a senior lecturer in zoology at the University of Cambridge and his mother, Sylvia (née Wilson), was a teacher and film editor who raised her family at Grantchester Meadows, later immortalised by a Roger Waters song on Pink Floyd's Ummagumma.
Gilmour attended The Perse School on Hills Road, Cambridge, and met future Pink Floyd guitarist and vocalist Syd Barrett, along with bassist and vocalist Roger Waters who attended Cambridgeshire High School for Boys, also situated on Hills Road. He studied modern languages to A-Level, and along with Syd, spent his lunchtime learning to play the guitar. They were not yet bandmates however, and Gilmour started playing in the band Joker's Wild in 1962. Gilmour left Joker's Wild in 1966 and busked around Spain and France with some friends. However, they were not very successful, living virtually a hand-to-mouth existence. In July 1992, Gilmour stated in an interview with Nicky Horne on BBC radio that he ended up being treated for malnutrition in a hospital. In 1967, they returned to England, driving a van with fuel stolen from a building site in France.
Gilmour was approached in late December 1967 by drummer Nick Mason, who asked if he would be interested in joining Pink Floyd, which he did in January 1968, making Pink Floyd briefly a five-piece band. He was used to fill in for Syd Barrett's guitar parts when the front man was unable to take a consistent part in Floyd's live performances.