Saturday, March 6, 2010

Happy birthday, David Gilmour

Born on 6 March 1946, David Gilmour is 64 today, depending on your time zone. He started out as a male model (you can see why here and, frankly, above) and ended up as one of the great guitar heroes. There are several survivors from the 60s still playing, but I can’t think of any still extending their range apart from him and Jeff Beck. His music is more conservative than Beck’s but technically his playing is every bit as magical. He also seems to be a very good chap, as you’ll find online: loads of philanthropy, and when the Live 8 concert led to a big spike in sales of Pink Floyd CDs he said, “I will not profit from the concert. This is money that should be used to save lives.”

Here he is at about 60 in a New York studio performing Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb”. He wrote the music, Roger Waters wrote the words. What a combination they were. The two guitar solos – the first is over the D major section, the second over the B minor – always appear on lists of the greatest guitar solos ever. Those lists are stupid but that doesn’t detract from how good these solos are. They look and sound simple – even I can bash my way through them – but no one else has Gilmour’s touch or feel.

It is really hard to play over music as slow as this, and I can’t think of another guitarist who is so happy down the bottom end of the neck where, as with the slow tempo, it is harder to play. Also, we can all copy this but the trick is to invent it. We can all plagiarise, but can we all write?


Chad Taylor said...

DG also gets points for mentoring Kate Bush.

Stephen Stratford said...

"DG also gets points for mentoring Kate Bush."

He so does. We might not have had her entire oeuvre from "Wuthering Heights" to "Aerial" without his championing her. And think of the (mostly) female artists who have been inspired by her.

Also, he played with the Pretty Things on their 1998 resurrection of their 1968 album "S.F. Sorrow", the first and best rock opera. Didn't need to, but he did. What a gent.

Phil said...

Triffic chap. Just watched DG live DVD - sublime. I was at the Roger Waters concert in AKL a few years back - RW came across as a sterile control freak by comparison - even though most of the material was the same.

Stephen Stratford said...

Lucky you, Phil. I missed the Pink Floyd in, dunno, late 80s/early 90s in Auckland and that recent Waters concert and have large bruises from kicking myself ever since. But I did go to the Floyd press conference at the Regent hotel: this was when Rick Wright wasn't legally a member so it was just Gilmour and Nick Mason, the drummer: they were both very droll (especially about Waters) and clearly ten times smarter than everyone else in the room.