For his services to music, in 2005, David Gilmour of Pink Floyd was awarded the CBE, Commander of the Order of the British Empire, in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List. This is a known fact for those who have followed Pink Floyd from their beginnings. However, those of us who may only be casual listeners of Pink Floyd, the journey of how he got there is the unknown.
In Cambridge, England, the second child of Douglas and Sylvia Gilmour, David Jon Gilmour, was born on March 6, 1946. Douglas, a lecturer in Zoology at the University and Sylvia, a teacher. David has three siblings, Catherine, Peter and Mark. Brother Mark is a musician in his own rights as a member of Scarlet Party.
A neighbor loaned David a first guitar when he was 13 years old, with which he learned to play using the instruction book and record by Pete Seeger. He never returned that guitar to his neighbor. While attending The Perse School in Cambridge, David studied modern languages and mastered A level grades. There he met Syd Barret and Roger Walters, who would end up being members of Pink Floyd years later. Syd and David both studied guitar while Roger found his talent as a vocalist.
Between 1962 and 1966 David belong to a band, Jokers Wild. After leaving that band in 1966, David hitchhiked around France and Span with friends, living day-to-day for food and a place to sleep. David ended up being treated for malnutrition in 1967 during a hospital stay and the group of friends returned to England.
It has been said that David Gilmour was member of several bands prior to Pink Floyd, to which he has corrected in interviews. Pink Floyd was first called ‘Bullitt’ then their manager changed their name to ‘Flowers” to go with the flower power of the 60s. In time, the name Pink Floyd was chosen and the group stayed with the name.
Shortly after that hitchiking trip and hospital stay, the group that David Gilmour will always be associated with in every music fan’s mind, Pink Floyd, was formed. There have been stories and rumors that David Gilmour had a short career as a male model. This is a bit over exaggerated. He took a short stint job as modeling in the mid-60s simply for survival purpose when work as a band was slim to none. He was never a model by career with an agency and only did the work a handful of times.
David Gilmour married in 1975 to Virgina Hasenbien, a model. The have four children, Alice, Clare, Sara and Matthew. They divorced in 1990 then in 1994, he married Polly Samson, a journalist and they have four children as well. Charlie (from another union of Polly’s and who David adopted), Joe, Gabriela and Romany.
David’s trademark instrument is a Fender Stratocaster and occasionally a Telecaster. With his talent on the axe and his sweet sounding voice, Pink Floyd has a great balance of talent that only Gilmour, Syds, Barret and Waters could create together.
Any rock music lover or historian will agree that Gilmour has always been charming and a gentleman all the way through, leaving gossip columnist empty of anything to write. There is no doubt that the good quality and universal themes of Pink Floyd’s music is what made them so popular, even still today and most likely for generations to come.
Mr. Gilmour tells us that the music of Pink Floyd comes from deep thoughts, infinity and meaning. However, the story going around that he tried to play “Dark Side Of The Moon” over ‘The Wizard of Oz’ was really a publicity stunt that the root of it was never found, a complete rumor.
Gilmour is often asked if the fact that he still has fans of his earlier music, with Jokers Wild and before, if it amazes him. He confesses that music wasn’t really his style, not him, but as a bunch of teens just trying to get started in the business, it was fun times, fun music. He played a good amount of soul music such as the Four Tops and Wilson Pickett as well as some Beach Boy tunes.
While on a quick trip to London to replace stolen mics, he saw Jimi Hendrix at a Blaises and was amazed by the talent and music coming from Hendrix and Brian Auger Trinity. After the Hendrix record was released, his group began playing some of it, including almost all of “Are You Experienced?”. Gilmour is proud to say that he is a jack of all trades when it comes to various music styles, he doesn’t stick with just one and never intended to either.
He was influenced by Bob Dylan, Hank Marvin, Lead Belly and Pete Seeger. Blues, Rock, whatever came from them, he listened and played. A hodgepodge of different influences and styles is David Gilmour style.
When Gilmour is asked about his post-Syd years, if he misses those years, he is defiant in his answer with an astounding and strong NO! He is of the opinion that when the times change, you move on with your life and leave the past in the past. Between the years 68 and 72, with three or four gigs a week, Gilmour doesn’t consider that as touring. The group played in what he considers shed throughout the country and all over Europe and those are years that he would just as soon everyone forget.
When asked why he has never done many solo albums, he reminisces over “About Face” from 1984. And then just tells it like it is, it just didn’t seem to be any reason for a solo project. Really no other discussion needed. Gilmour is now and will always be known as Pink Floyd’s guitarist, vocalist and writer.
“Dark Side of The Moon” wouldn’t be what it is today, the third most album success of all, if not for David’s talent on the axe and vocals that are distinctively his. It is his talent there that helped bring the wide success of Pink Floyd in the 70’s. Pink Floyd was inducted into the US Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996 and the UK Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2005.
In 2004, David was billed headline at the London Wembley concert where 50 years of the Fender Stratocaster was celebrated. ‘Guitar’ magazine voted him as “Best Fender Guitar Player Ever’, over Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix. In 2008, the British Association of Composers and Singers award him with the “Ivor” for lifetime achievement.
Despite earlier sentiments that there is no reason to do solo albums, Gilmour released a thir in 2006, ‘On An Island” which hit number one in the UK immediately and went multi-platinum world wide, even in Canada and Poland.
In 2008, two versions of Fender Guitars became available in the irDavid Gilmour Signature Black Strat model. To copy his worn 30 year old Strat, they came out with the “Relic” and copying it without the wear and tear, “New Old Stock” was introduced as well.
From his expertise, skill and talent with Pink Floyd and the replica’s of his Strat axe, David Gilmour will forever be a part of rock-n-roll. There is no doubt in the minds and opinions of rockers world wide, that Mr. Gilmour, without a doubt, that as a musician, he is not “Just another brick in the wall”.