David Gilmour: Five Acts of Legend

Progressive rock’s most expressive lead guitarist, examined in this month's Five Acts of Legend.
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> Progressive rock’s most expressive lead guitarist, David Jon Gilmour was born in Cambridge, England, on March 6, 1946. As a youngster, he became interested in music after hearing early rock and roll hits by Bill Haley, Elvis Presley and the Everly Brothers. At age 13, he borrowed his neighbor’s guitar and never returned it, teaching himself to play using The Folksinger’s Guitar Guide, a lesson book and record by Pete Seeger. While in grammar school, he befriended future Pink Floyd founders Syd Barrett and Roger Waters.

> In December 1967, Gilmour was invited to join Pink Floyd as guitarist and co-vocalist to help cover for the increasingly erratic Barrett, who would leave the following year. The band became one of prog-rock’s most influential and successful acts through albums like The Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here and The Wall. Following Waters’ departure in 1985, Gilmour led the band through three more studio albums before they officially broke up in 2014.

> During this time, Gilmour became known for his distinctive lead guitar style, characterized by bluesy phrasing and expressive note bends. His main guitar was his legendary Black Strat, which he purchased at Manny’s in New York City in 1970 and modified frequently. His tone also relied on effects like the Binson Echorec delay, the Colorsound Power Boost, and rotary speakers by Leslie, Yamaha and Maestro.

> In addition to releasing four acclaimed solo albums, including 2015’s Rattle That Lock, Gilmour helped Kate Bush get her career started and has worked with artists including Roy Harper, Jimmy Page and Paul McCartney.

> Gilmour was inducted with Pink Floyd into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996, and in 2003 was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE).