David Gilmour. (Photo by Getty Images)
David Gilmour wasn't the original guitarist for Pink Floyd, but he joined the band in time for their second album "A Saucerful of Secrets" in 1968, replacing original space cowboy Syd Barrett. With that band, Gilmour attracted worldwide fame by 1973 when "Dark Side of the Moon" took the English group's career into hyperdrive. Along with all the hits from that band, Gilmour's accomplished playing on his beloved Fender Stratocaster also raised eyebrows. When bassist Roger Waters left Pink Floyd in the mid-80's, Gilmour kept the remaining members together for another ten years of best-selling releases and gargantuan globe-trotting tours.
During his history-making work with Pink Floyd, David Gilmour launched a solo career that became his focus once the mighty Classic Rock group called it quits in 1995. His first album, "David Gilmour" had been released all the way back in 1978, a year after Floyd wrapped its "Animals" tour. A second release entitled "About face" followed six years later, supported by a tour that brought Gilmour to Boston's Orpheum Theater where he blew the roof off the place for one memorable night. There was a solo drought until 2006 when the critically-praised "On An Island" album appeared followed by 2015's "Rattle That Lock."
David Gilmour is also a noted philanthropist in England and once donated his home to charity when he moved on. The ongoing success of Pink Floyd music with succeeding generation after generation, however, ensures that this iconic guitarist will always have a substantial roof over his head. Here, then, is a David Gilmour Top Ten, a trail of six-string pearls, shining brightly through the years on the way to this, his 72nd birthday!
#10 "One of These Days" - a roaring beast of driving rhythm and screaming slide guitar, punctuated once by Nick Mason's only lead vocal in Pink Floyd and a cosmic bass-guitar space-out by Roger Waters. This track opened the 1971 "Meddle" album, easily Floyd's best up to that point and a glimpse of things to come.
#9 "High Hopes" - although it isn't technically the title track to Pink Floyd's 1994 studio album "The Division Bell," this is the song whose lyrics suggested the title. It reaches the Top Ten mainly because of Gilmore's singing. Although we think of his playing most of the time, the guitarist also possessed the best voice in Floyd.
#8 "Free Four" - this song is from Pink Floyd's 1972 soundtrack album "Obscured by Clouds." The Moog in the rhythm might add a futuristic growl, but this song is really a loping blues-based shuffle with two solos from Gilmour. The song-closing second one is extended and a face melter! As it fades, you wish they could have kept the faders up for just another few seconds.
#7 "Time" - This "Dark Side of the Moon" song is the most well-known track so far. After you recover from the alarm clocks at the beginning, there's cosmic lyrics about the passage of, uh, time, (and birthdays), then Gilmour rips out a blistering solo that anchors down this cosmic piece down!
#6 "All Lovers Are Deranged" - from the second solo album "About Face." Pete Townshend was messing around with his solo 'Deep End Band' around this time and Gilmour participated in that group purely for fun. Townshend returned the favor by writing a pair of songs for this album and "Deranged" is one of them. Aggressive and driving, David Gilmour sings the hell out of this one.
#5 "Run Like Hell" - Gilmour brought the studio version to the table for "The Wall" project, but we're going with the one featured on the 2-CD "Live at Knebworth" release. Recorded in 1990 at the massive U.K. festival on Pink Floyd's "Momentary Lapse of Reason Tour," the echoing blasts of rippling notes that introduce this concert version sends chills down your spine before locking into that unmistakably dense guitar rhythm that drives the song.
#4 "Sheep" - from the often-overlooked 1977 release "Animals." At 10 minutes, this is the most up-tempo the concept album gets with Gilmour tossing out echoed blasts throughout until the triumphant climax of descending guitar notes at the end. No one can resist turning it up until the speakers bleed!
#3 "There's No Way out of Here" - David Gilmour released his first eponymously-titled album in 1978 and this is one of the standout tracks, a spooky mid-tempo track with acoustic guitars and biting lead breaks that became the album's only single. Also, check out the opening instrumental "Mihalis."
#2 "Wish You Were Here" - Roger Waters and David Gilmour collaborated on this title track to the 1975 Pink Floyd album and Gilmour turns in one of his best vocal performances on record. In concert, it was an opportunity for the band to relax from the heavier concept pieces and come to earth, at least for one song. Still, a track that Gilmour can barely avoid playing in any of his live solo shows.
#1 "Comfortably Numb" - David Gilmour's signature song. Originally written for a solo album, this piece came to "The Wall" project as a piece entitled "The Doctor," but evolved greatly in the band format. During concerts for "The Wall," Gilmour would be raised up on a platform above the towering wall that had been built across the stage, into a phalanx of light beams where he would solo the song to a powerful climax. There are many versions of "Comfortably Numb" out there, but we're going with the live version from "Is There Anybody Out There," the original Pink Floyd in concert 1980/81.