In 2005, Gilmour was rated the 82nd greatest guitarist by Rolling Stone. 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.
Born David Jon Gilmour, in Cambridge, England, he is best known as the lead guitarist, one of the lead singers and one of the main songwriters in the progressive rock band Pink Floyd. In addition to his work with Pink Floyd, Gilmour has worked as a producer for a variety of artists, and has enjoyed a successful career as a solo artist.
In 2003, he was appointed "Commander of the Order of the British Empire" (CBE) for services to music and philanthropy and was awarded with the Outstanding Contribution title at the 2008 Q Awards.
Gilmour's father was a senior lecturer in zoology at the University of Cambridge and his mother 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 in Cambridge, and met future Pink Floyd guitarist and vocalist Syd Barrett, and bassist and vocalist Roger Waters who attended Cambridgeshire High School for Boys, nearby. Gilmour often spent his lunchtime learning to play the guitar with Barrett.
Gilmour started playing in the band Joker's Wild in 1962. He left the band in 1966 and busked around Spain and France, not very successfully.
Gilmour was approached in late December 1967 by Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason, who asked if he would be interested in joining Pink Floyd, making Pink Floyd a five-piece band. He filled in for Syd Barrett's guitar parts due to his erratic behavior.
Eventually, Barrett was out, and Gilmour assumed the role of the band's lead guitarist and took over most of the band's lead vocal duties with bassist Roger Waters and keyboard player Richard Wright. 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.
Keyboardist 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, In 1968 Gilmour thought that his musical influence had been underused, and fused his ideas into his self-titled first solo album, 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.)
In 1985, Waters declared that Pink Floyd was "a spent force creatively." However, in 1986, Gilmour and drummer Nick Mason stated 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.
In 1986, Gilmour purchased the houseboat Astoria which is moored on the River Thames, 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 July 2, 2005, Gilmour played with Pink Floyd—including Roger Waters—at Live 8. Gilmour donated all of his resulting profits to charities.
In December 2006, Gilmour released a tribute to Syd Barrett, who had died on 7 July of 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 Wright and special guest artist David Bowie.
Since their Live 8 appearance in 2005, Gilmour has repeatedly said that there would be no Pink Floyd reunion. With the death of Pink Floyd keyboardist Richard Wright in September 2008, another reunion of the core group members became impossible.
Gilmour also took up various roles as a producer, sideman and even concert sound engineer for a wide variety of acts which included former bandmate Syd Barrett, Paul McCartney, Kate Bush, Grace Jones, Tom Jones, Elton John, Eric Clapton, B. B. King, Seal, Sam Brown, Jools Holland, Bob Dylan, Pete Townshend, The Who, Supertramp, Levon Helm, Robbie Robertson, Alan Parsons, among others plus a variety of charities.
In 1985, Gilmour was member of Bryan Ferry's band. He played on Ferry's album Boys and Girls, as well as the song "Is Your Love Strong Enough" for the U.S. release of the Ridley Scott-Tom Cruise film Legend.
Gilmour also took part in a comedy skit titled "The Easy Guitar Book Sketch" with comedian Rowland Rivron and fellow British musicians Mark Knopfler, Lemmy from Motorhead, Mark King from Level 42, and Gary Moore.
In 2001 and 2002, he held a small number of acoustic solo concerts in London and Paris, along with a small band and choir.
In 2003, Rolling Stone included Gilmour in the list of hundred greatest guitarists of all time at number 82.
On 6 March 2006, his 60th birthday, he released his third solo album, On an Island. It debuted at #1 in the UK charts. The album features David Crosby and Graham Nash on harmonies on the title track, Robert Wyatt on cornet and percussion and Richard Wright on Hammond organ and vocals, and a host of other musical contributors. The album was Gilmour's first U.S. Top 10 album as a solo artist.
On July 11, 2010, Gilmour gave a performance for the charity Hoping Foundation with Roger Waters in Oxfordshire, England. According to onlookers, it seemed clear that Gilmour and Waters had ended the their long-running feud and seemed to be the best of friends, laughing and joking together along with their respective partners.
Waters has confirmed via his Facebook page that Gilmour will play Comfortably Numb with him for one of his shows on his upcoming The Wall Live.
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 pick-ups.
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, synthesizer, 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.
In 1996, Gilmour was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Pink Floyd.