David Jon Gilmour, CBE (born 6 March 1946) is an English rock musician, 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. Gilmour has been actively involved with many charities 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.Rolling Stone has described him as "one of rock's most distinctive guitarists".
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. He has a younger brother who is also a musician.
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 Barrett, 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.
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 filled in for Syd Barrett's guitar parts when the frontman was unable to take a consistent part in Floyd's live performances. When Syd Barrett "left" the group (due to his erratic behaviour, commonly believed to have been caused by excessive use of LSD) the band chose not to pick Barrett up one night for a gig, and Gilmour by default 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 also occasionally singing 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 subsequent 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 also made a guest appearance 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. Gilmour explained: