|David Gilmour was born on 6th
March 1946 in Cambridge, the second child of Douglas Gilmour, a
senior lecturer in Zoology at the University and Sylvia, a teacher.
Best known as guitarist, vocalist and writer with Pink Floyd, he is
also renowned for solo work and collaborations with other artists
including Kate Bush, Paul McCartney, and Pete Townshend.
David Gilmour and Roger 'Syd' Barrett met as children in Cambridge and later, whilst studying at the Cambridgeshire College of Arts and Technology, began playing guitar together. In 1965 they spent a summer hitchhiking and busking around the South of France before Syd joined Roger Waters, Nick Mason and Rick Wright to form Pink Floyd, and David continued playing with his own band Jokers Wild, subsequently touring Europe with Flowers, and later Bullitt.
David was asked to augment the Pink Floyd line up as the singer and guitarist in 1967, only for Syd to leave the group five gigs later, struggling with mental illness.
David's guitar playing and song writing became major factors of Pink Floyd's worldwide success during the 1970s, including his distinctive vocals and guitar playing on Dark Side of the Moon, the third most successful album of all time.
As a side project, David released his first solo album David Gilmour in 1978. Featuring Rick Wills on bass and Willie Wilson on drums & percussion, the album charted in the UK and the US.
David's second solo album About Face was released in 1984, again hitting the Top 20 in the UK.
|David assumed control of Pink Floyd in
1985, after Roger Waters' departure, creating the new Floyd album "A
Momentary Lapse of Reason" with Nick Mason & Rick Wright. The
Division Bell followed in 1994. Both albums charted at number one on
both sides of the Atlantic and were supported by sell-out world
tours. A live album and video, Pulse, followed in 1995. In 1996,
Pink Floyd were inducted into the US Rock & Roll Hall of Fame,
followed by the same honor in the UK in November 2005; in 2005
David Gilmour was made a CBE for services to music.
In July 2005, Pink Floyd reunited with Roger Waters for a one-off performance at Live 8 in London's Hyde Park, which was regarded by many as the highlight of an astonishing show.
In 2002, following a concert for Robert Wyatt's Meltdown Festival, three semi acoustic concerts were performed by David Gilmour and friends at London's Royal Festival Hall, with one critic remarking that a "reinvented rock god shines on as 21st century folk hero".
In 2003, David donated the £3.6 million proceeds of the sale of his London house to Crisis, the charity for the homeless of which he is a vice-president.
David Gilmour's position in the canon of rock guitar players can be construed from his headline billing at the 2004 Wembley concert celebrating 50 years of the Fender Stratocaster guitar.
David's latest project is a new solo album, On An Island. Released on 6th March 2006, it is accompanied by tour dates in Europe and North America.
|For any today's bands -- and
Floyd are no exception -- time spent in the recording studio is
perhaps the most crucial aspect of their success. As studio
techniques continue to develop, providing access to a variety of
sounds and musical expression which were impossible before
recent technological progress, many groups have come to rely
increasingly on the facilities a studio has to offer.
A changing musical scene breeds a change of interest on the part of the public. As Pink Floyd have been consistently at the forefront of the shifting emphasis from hastily written, produced and recorded singles to extensively thought-out and intensively recorded albums, it has become essential to consider the way in which they are currently working.
Whereas an album was once cut from start to finish in a couple of days, 'Wish You Were Here' took from mid January 1975 through to July of the same year. In fairness, however, it should be pointed out that this lengthy session was broken for two American tours and rehearsals. During that period, the band worked more or less solidly from 2.30 every afternoon to well into the evening, stopping when they felt they'd had enough. This strict regime was kept up for four days a week.
The album was cut at EMI's massive Abbey Road Studios, which nestle quietly in a residential part of London's St. John's Wood. These studios are now a legend of course, having been the birthplace of many rock's greatest albums, including much of the Beatles' and the Hollies' work. In spite of this, with so many other excellent studios around these days, the question remains as to why Floyd prefer Abbey Road. For the answer to this question and many others, we spoke to David Gilmour. "We've always used it. We've done virtually every album there. I think it's pretty much a thing of habit but we do tend to use a lot of electronic facilities and some of the smaller studios just haven't got the equipment to cope with the various things we want to do. Unless you've got a good reason to go somewhere else, you don't go anywhere else, do you?" The whole idea of 'Wish You Were Here' came out of rehearsals in a room in King's Cross.
Those ideas became the basis of "Shine On You Crazy Diamond," which was performed on tour in France and England. It's intriguing to hear how Shine On was actually recorded and how the rest of the numbers were composed and added to complete the album.
"First of all we did a basic track of "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" from the beginning where the first guitar solo starts, right through Shine On and the part with the sax solo through to the continuation of Shine On. That was in all twenty minutes long, which was at one time going to be the whole of one side of the album. However, as we worked on it and extended it and then extracted things, we came to the decision that we would make that into the whole album and we began to on the new stuff to slot in." Here, Floyd are basically following the standard practice of laying down a backing track comprising bass, drums and guitar, possibly with keyboards added. They take the idea one step further, however, by extending the practice from a single track to the whole album. Then they separate the backing track and insert later ideas, carefully polishing and refining until they are ready to mix down the amassed ideas onto two tracks for the two channels of a stereo system.
All this sounds very smooth running and straightforward, but the recording of that particular backing track was not without its attendant problems. They were forced to spend a whole week trying to get the exact drum sound that they wanted and a few other things held up the proceedings, too, as David explains.
"We originally did the backing track over the course of several days, but we came to the conclusion that it just wasn't good enough. So we did it again in one day flat and got it a lot better. Unfortunately nobody understood the desk properly and when we played it back we found that someone had switched the echo returns from monitors to tracks one and two. That affected the tom-toms and guitars and keyboards which were playing along at the time.
There was no way of saving it, so we just had to do it yet again." Like most bands today, Floyd rarely recorded anything "live". In other words, they tend not to be all playing at once. A rhythm track is laid down and the embellishments added later. But there are some tracks which are more or less live in the studio. "'Have a Cigar' was a whole track on which I used the guitar and keyboards at once. There are some extra guitars which I dubbed on later, but I did the basic guitar tracks at one time," explained David.
Floyd chose that technique as being the one that best fitted the nature of the song itself. This total awareness of differing material and techniques also extends itself to "Welcome to the Machine," a totally different type of number to "Have a Cigar," on which they employed a radically different approach. "It's very much a made-up-in-the-studio thing which was all built up from a basic throbbing made on a VCS 3, with a one repeat echo used so that each 'boom' is followed by an echo repeat to give the throb. With a number like that, you don't start off with a regular concept of group structure or anything, and there's no backing track either. Really it is just a studio proposition where we're using tape for its own ends -- a form of collage using sound."
The number "Welcome to the Machine" posed another problem one familiar to a lot of bands -- recording synthesizers. With any electronic instrument, you have the choice of playing it through an amplifier taking your tonal coloration from the amplifier, or playing straight through the mixing desk, a technique known as direct injection. Floyd normally direct inject the bass and keyboards and Gilmour occasionally D.I.'s the guitar. Synthesizer, however, create their own problems, as David pointed out. "It's very hard to get a full synthesizer tone down on tape. If you listen to them before and after they've been recorded, you'll notice that you've lost a lot. And although I like the sound of a synthesizer through an amp, you still lose something that way as well. Eventually what we decided to do was to use D.I. on synthesizer because that way you don't increase your losses and the final result sounds very much like a synthesizer through a stage amp." In mythological terms Floyd are often thought of as being perhaps the major users of new effects and studio techniques. Yet this is something Gilmour denies strongly. "I don't think we use new equipment all that much. We do use a lot of studio effects but none of them are particularly new. Most of them are recorded by using all the old regular equipment.