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Born: March 6, 1946
Biography: David Gilmour gained international fame for his incisive, atmospheric guitar work and vocals with Pink Floyd, and eventually became the leader of the group during their late period, as he pursued a successful solo career and worked with some of the most respected names in British rock. Gilmour was born in Cambridge, England on March 6, 1946; his parents were both involved in education -- his father was a lecturer in Zoology at Cambridge University and his mother was a teacher -- and as a schoolboy, Gilmour struck up a friendship with a boy who attended the same grade school, Roger Barrett, who later gained the nickname Syd.
Gilmour became re-acquainted with Barrett while they were studying at the Cambridgeshire College of Arts and Technology; both were interested in music and began learning to play guitar in their spare time, as did Barrett's friend Roger Waters. In 1963, Gilmour joined a rock group, Jokers Wild, which specialized in R&B covers; in 1965, he and Barrett took the summer off and spent several months busking and traveling through France, though the adventure didn't pay off financially. After returning to England, Gilmour played with a group called Flowers for a while, as well as a revamped version of Jokers Wild called Bullitt; meanwhile, Barrett and Waters teamed up with Rick Wright and Nick Mason to form a group called the Tea Set, which was later renamed Pink Floyd.
In 1967, Pink Floyd was the toast of London's burgeoning psychedelic scene on the strength of the singles "Arnold Layne" and "See Emily Play," and the album Piper at the Gates of Dawn. However, Barrett had become increasingly unstable, sometimes becoming catatonic on-stage or playing different songs than his bandmates, and as his ability to perform was compromised, Gilmour was invited to join the group to help with guitar and vocals when Barrett was having trouble. However, after a few shows it became evident that Gilmour's presence wasn't enough to rescue Barrett, and the group's leader was let go as Gilmour became the band's new lead guitarist by default, and he would produce and play on Barrett's two solo albums before Barrett retired from music.
Gilmour made his recording debut with Pink Floyd on 1968's A Saucerful of Secrets, and over the next several years, the group's sound evolved from pop-friendly psychedelic to ambitious progressive and experimental rock. Gilmour's guitar became a key part of Pink Floyd's aural signature, and he played a larger role in the group's songwriting; their evolving approach culminated with 1973's The Dark Side of the Moon, which became a massive international hit and firmly established them as one of the biggest British acts of the day.
Pink Floyd's success continued with 1975's Wish You Were Here, but as Waters began to dominate the group's songwriting and conceptualizing, Gilmour began looking for other opportunities to express himself. He'd already made guest appearances on albums by Roy Harper and Hawkwind, and during the recording of 1977's Animals, Gilmour began work on his first solo album, released in 1978 simply as David Gilmour. In 1978, he also co-produced Kate Bush's debut album, The Kick Inside, and he contributed guitar work to Wings' 1979 release Back to the Egg. 1979's The Wall became another massive success for Pink Floyd, and Gilmour co-wrote the stand-out track "Comfortably Numb," but tensions within the group grew during the recording of the album -- Rick Wright was fired during the sessions -- and after the long sessions which produced 1983's The Final Cut, Pink Floyd briefly fell apart. [Read more via AllMusic here]