David Jon Gilmour
6 March 1946
David Jon Gilmour // GHIL-mor; born 6 March 1946) is an English songwriter, guitarist, and singer who was a member of rock band Pink Floyd. He joined as guitarist and co-lead vocalist in 1967, shortly before the departure of founder member Syd Barrett. Pink Floyd achieved international success with the concept albums The Dark Side of the Moon (1973), Wish You Were Here (1975), Animals (1977), and The Wall (1979). By the early 1980s, they had become one of the highest-selling and most acclaimed acts in music history; by 2012, they had sold more than 250 million records worldwide, including 75 million in the United States. Following the departure of Roger Waters in 1985, Pink Floyd continued under Gilmour's leadership and released three more studio albums.(
Gilmour has produced a variety of artists, such as the Dream Academy, and has released four solo studio albums: David Gilmour, About Face, On an Island, and Rattle That Lock. He is also credited for bringing singer-songwriter Kate Bush to public attention. As a member of Pink Floyd, he was inducted into the US Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996, and the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2005. In 2003, Gilmour was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE). He was awarded with the Outstanding Contribution title at the 2008 Q Awards. In 2011, Rolling Stone ranked him number 14 in their list of the greatest guitarists of all time. He was also voted number 36 in the greatest voices in rock by Planet Rock listeners in 2009.
Gilmour has taken part in projects related to issues including animal rights, environmentalism, homelessness, poverty, and human rights. He has married twice and is the father of eight children.
David Jon Gilmour was born on 6 March 1946 in Cambridge, England. His father, Douglas Gilmour, was a senior lecturer in zoology at the University of Cambridge, and his mother, Sylvia (née Wilson), trained as a teacher and later worked as a film editor for the BBC. At the time of Gilmour's birth they lived in Trumpington, Cambridgeshire, but in 1956, after several relocations, the family moved to nearby Grantchester Meadows.[n 1]
Gilmour's parents encouraged him to pursue his interest in music, and in 1954 he bought his first single, Bill Haley's "Rock Around the Clock". His enthusiasm was stirred the following year by Elvis Presley's "Heartbreak Hotel", and later "Bye Bye Love" by the Everly Brothers piqued his interest in the guitar. He borrowed a guitar from a neighbour, but never gave it back. Soon afterward, Gilmour started teaching himself to play using a book and record set by Pete Seeger. At age 11, Gilmour began attending Perse School on Hills Road, Cambridge, which he did not enjoy. There he met future Pink Floyd guitarist Syd Barrett and bassist Roger Waters, who attended Cambridgeshire High School for Boys, also situated on Hills Road.
In 1962, Gilmour began studying A-Level modern languages at the Cambridgeshire College of Arts and Technology. Despite not finishing the course, he eventually learnt to speak fluent French. Barrett was also a student at the college, and he spent his lunchtimes practising guitar with Gilmour. In late 1962, Gilmour joined the blues rock band Jokers Wild. The band recorded a one-sided album and a single at Regent Sound Studio, in Denmark Street, west London, but only 50 copies of each were made.
In August 1965, Gilmour busked around Spain and France with Barrett and some other friends, performing songs by the Beatles. They were arrested on one occasion and destitute, which resulted in Gilmour requiring treatment in a hospital for malnutrition. He and Barrett later trekked to Paris, where they camped outside the city for a week and visited the Louvre. During that time Gilmour worked in various places, most notably as the driver and assistant for fashion designer Ossie Clark.
Gilmour travelled to France in mid-1967 with Rick Wills and Willie Wilson, formerly of Jokers Wild. The trio performed under the name Flowers, then Bullitt, but were not commercially successful. After hearing their covers of chart hits, club owners were reluctant to pay them, and soon after their arrival in Paris, thieves stole their equipment. While in France, Gilmour contributed lead vocals to two songs on the soundtrack of the film Two Weeks in September, starring Brigitte Bardot. In May, Gilmour briefly returned to London in search of new equipment. During his stay, he watched Pink Floyd record "See Emily Play" and was shocked to find that Barrett, who was beginning to suffer mental health problems, did not seem to recognise him. When Bullitt returned to England later that year, they were so impoverished that their tour bus was completely empty of petrol and they had to push it off the ferry onto the landing.
In December 1967, Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason invited Gilmour to join the band to cover for the increasingly erratic Barrett. Gilmour accepted; they initially intended to continue with Barrett as a non-performing songwriter. One of the band's business partners, Peter Jenner, said: "The idea was that Dave would ... cover for Barrett's eccentricities and when that got to be not workable, Syd was just going to write. Just to try to keep him involved." By March 1968, working with Barrett had become too difficult and he agreed to leave the band.
Gilmour took up lead vocal roles with keyboardist Richard Wright. After the successes of The Dark Side of the Moon (1973) and Wish You Were Here (1975), Roger Waters took greater control of the band, writing and singing lead on most of Animals (1977) and The Wall (1979). Wright was fired during the Wall sessions; the relationship between Gilmour and Waters deteriorated during the making of the Wall film and the album The Final Cut. The final Pink Floyd performance of The Wall took place on 17 June 1981, at Earl's Court, London, which became Pink Floyd's last appearance with Waters for almost 25 years.
The negative atmosphere surrounding the creation of The Wall album and film, compounded by The Final Cut's virtually being a 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. Gilmour toured Europe and the US along with support act the Television Personalities, who were dropped from the line-up after Dan Treacy revealed 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 US top ten hit with "Life in a Northern Town" in 1986.
In 1985, Waters declared that Pink Floyd were "a spent force creatively" and left the band. Gilmour and Mason responded with a press release stating that they intended to continue without him. Gilmour assumed control of the group and produced the Pink Floyd album A Momentary Lapse of Reason in 1987, with contributions from Mason and Richard Wright. He felt Pink Floyd albums had become too driven by lyrics under Waters' leadership, and attempted to "restore the balance" of music and lyrics on Momentary Lapse. It was followed by The Division Bell in 1994.
In 1986, Gilmour purchased the houseboat Astoria, moored it on the River Thames near Hampton Court and transformed it into a recording studio. The majority of the two Pink Floyd albums released about this time, as well as Gilmour's 2006 solo album On an Island, were recorded there.
On 2 July 2005, Waters temporarily reunited with Gilmour to perform at Live 8. The performance caused a sales increase of Pink Floyd's album Echoes: The Best of Pink Floyd. Gilmour donated his profits to charities that reflect the goals of Live 8, saying: "Though the main objective has been to raise consciousness and put pressure on the G8 leaders, I will not profit from the concert. This is money that should be used to save lives." He called upon all Live 8 artists to donate their extra revenue to Live 8 fundraising. After the concert, Pink Floyd turned down an offer to tour the US for £150 million.
In 2006, Gilmour said that Pink Floyd would likely never tour or write material again. He said: "I think enough is enough. I am 60 years old. I don't have the will to work as much any more. Pink Floyd was an important part in my life, I have had a wonderful time, but it's over. For me it's much less complicated to work alone." In December 2006, Gilmour released a tribute to 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 single featured versions of the song performed by Wright and guest artist David Bowie. The single peaked on the UK Top 20 singles chart at number nineteen.
Since their Live 8 appearance in 2005, Gilmour has repeatedly said that there will be no Pink Floyd reunion. With the death of Wright in September 2008, another reunion of the core group members became impossible. On 7 November 2014, Pink Floyd released The Endless River. Gilmour stated that it would be Pink Floyd's last album, saying: "I think we have successfully commandeered the best of what there is ... It's a shame, but this is the end." There was no supporting tour, as Gilmour felt it was "kind of impossible" without Wright. In August 2015, Gilmour reiterated that Pink Floyd were "done" and that to reunite without Wright "would just be wrong". Mason said in 2018 that Gilmour and Waters continued to be "at loggerheads" and argued over reissues: "I think the problem is Roger doesn't really respect David. He feels that writing is everything, and that guitar playing and the singing are something that, I won't say anyone can do, but that everything should be judged on the writing rather than the playing."
Gilmour has a long-standing association with Roy Harper, who was for a time managed by Pink Floyd's former managers Blackhill Enterprises, recorded for the same label, Harvest Records, and who appeared on the same bill as Pink Floyd at 1968's Midsummer High Weekend free concert in Hyde Park. Harper sang "Have a Cigar" on Pink Floyd's 1975 Wish You Were Here album, and sang the song with them at that year's Knebworth Festival. Gilmour played on Harper's albums HQ (1975), The Unknown Soldier (1980) and Once (1990). Five of the ten songs on the first of these were co-compositions, one of which, "Short and Sweet", was first recorded for Gilmour's first solo album. Another, "You", also features Kate Bush, as does the title track on Once. In April 1984, Harper made surprise guest appearance at Gilmour's Hammersmith Odeon gig to sing "Short and Sweet". This was included in Gilmour's Live 1984 concert film. Harper also provided backing vocals on Gilmour's About Face album.
While writing for About Face, Gilmour had a tune, and asked Pete Townshend of The Who to supply lyrics. This Townshend did, but Gilmour rejected them (Townshend would use both tune and lyrics, as "White City Fighting", on his 1985 White City: A Novel album, which features Gilmour on that track, and on Give Blood). Gilmour then asked Harper for lyrics, but rejected those also, deciding not to use the tune on the album after all. Eventually Harper used his version, "Hope", which has a markedly slower tempo, on his 1985 album with Jimmy Page, called Whatever Happened to Jugula?.
In the 1970s, Gilmour received a copy of songwriter Kate Bush's demo tape from Ricky Hopper, a mutual friend of both families. Impressed, Gilmour paid for Bush, then 16, to record three professional demo tracks to present to record companies. The tape was produced by Gilmour's friend Andrew Powell, who went on to produce Bush's first two albums, and sound engineer Geoff Emerick. Gilmour arranged for EMI executive Terry Slater to hear the tape, who signed her.
Gilmour is credited as executive producer on two tracks on Bush's debut album The Kick Inside, including her second single "The Man with the Child in His Eyes". He performed backing vocals on "Pull Out the Pin" on her fourth album The Dreaming, and played guitar on "Love and Anger" and "Rocket's Tail" on her sixth, The Sensual World.
In March 1987, Bush, known for rarely performing live, sang "Running Up That Hill" at The Secret Policeman's Third Ball with Gilmour on guitar. A three DVD set of The Secret Policeman's Balls benefit concerts, including their performance, was released in 2009. In 2002, she performed "Comfortably Numb", singing the part of the doctor, at Gilmour's concert at the Royal Festival Hall in London.
By the late 1970s, Gilmour had begun to think that his musical talents were being underused by Pink Floyd. In 1978 he channelled his ideas into his first solo album, David Gilmour, which showcased his guitar playing and songwriting. Music written during the finishing stages of the album, but too late to be used, was incorporated into a song by Waters, which became "Comfortably Numb", included on The Wall.
Gilmour has recorded four solo studio albums, all four of which have charted in the US Top 40: his first peaked at No. 29 in 1978, About Face peaked at No. 32 in 1984, On an Island peaked at No. 6 in 2006, and Rattle That Lock peaked at No. 5 in 2015. His live albums Live in Gdansk (2008) and Live at Pompeii (2017) peaked at number 26 and number 45, respectively.
Taking time off from Pink Floyd's schedule, Gilmour also took up various roles as a record producer, sideman and sound engineer for acts including former bandmate Syd Barrett, Unicorn, Paul McCartney, Arcadia, Berlin, John Martyn, Grace Jones, Tom Jones, Elton John, Eric Clapton, B.B. King, Seal, Sam Brown, Jools Holland, Kirsty MacColl, The Who, Pete Townshend, Supertramp, Levon Helm, Robbie Robertson, Alan Parsons, Peter Cetera and various charity groups among others.
In 1985, Gilmour played on Bryan Ferry's sixth album Boys and Girls, as well as the song "Is Your Love Strong Enough" for the US release of the Ridley Scott–Tom Cruise film Legend. A music video for the latter was created, incorporating Ferry and Gilmour into footage from the film (released as a bonus on the 2002 "Ultimate Edition" DVD release). Later that year, Gilmour played with Ferry at the Live Aid concert at Wembley Stadium in London; his first collaboration with Ferry's keyboardist Jon Carin, later to tour with Pink Floyd.
In 2001 and 2002, Gilmour performed a total of six acoustic solo concerts in London and Paris, along with a small band and choir, which was documented on the In Concert release. On 24 September 2004, he performed a three-song set at the Strat Pack concert at London's Wembley Arena, marking the 50th anniversary of the Fender Stratocaster guitar.
On 6 March 2006, Gilmour's 60th birthday, he released his third solo album, On an Island. It debuted at number 1 in the UK charts, and reached the top five in Germany and Sweden. The album earned Gilmour his first US top-ten as a solo artist, reaching number six in Billboard 200. Produced by Gilmour along with Phil Manzanera and Chris Thomas, the album features orchestrations by renowned Polish composer Zbigniew Preisner, and lyrics principally written by Gilmour's wife Polly Samson. The album featured David Crosby and Graham Nash performing backing vocals on the title-track, Robert Wyatt on cornet and percussion, and Richard Wright on Hammond organ and providing backing vocals. Other contributors included Jools Holland, Georgie Fame, Andy Newmark, B. J. Cole, Chris Stainton, Willie Wilson, Rado 'Bob' Klose on guitar and Leszek Możdżer on piano. The album also featured Gilmour's debut with the saxophone. Gilmour toured Europe, US and Canada from 10 March to 31 May 2006 to promote On an Island. There were ten shows in the US and Canadian leg of the tour. Pink Floyd alumnus Richard Wright, and frequent Floyd collaborators Dick Parry, Guy Pratt, and Jon Carin also accompanied him on the tour. More shows took place in Europe from July to August in 2006. In a press release to promote the tour, Gilmour stated: "I'm rather hoping that with this tour announcement, people will believe me when I say, honestly, this is the only band I plan to tour with!"
On 10 April 2006, On an Island was certified platinum in Canada, with sales of over 100,000 copies. A video recording of a show from Gilmour's solo tour, titled Remember That Night – Live at the Royal Albert Hall, was released on 17 September 2007. The double DVD, directed by David Mallet, contains over five hours of footage, including an on-the-road documentary and guest appearances by David Bowie and Robert Wyatt. The final show of Gilmour's On an Island tour took place at the Gdańsk Shipyard on 26 August 2006. The concert was held before a crowd of 100,000, and marked the twenty-sixth anniversary of the founding of the Solidarity trade union. The show was recorded, resulting in a live album and DVD release: Live in Gdańsk. For the occasion Gilmour performed with an orchestra, using the 38-piece string section of the Polish Baltic Philharmonic orchestra, conducted by Zbigniew Preisner.
On 25 May 2009, he participated in a concert at the Union Chapel in Islington, London. The concert was part of the 'Hidden Gigs' campaign against hidden homelessness, which is organised by Crisis, a UK-based national charity campaigning against homelessness. In the concert he collaborated with the Malian musicians Amadou & Mariam. On 4 July 2009, he joined his friend Jeff Beck onstage at the Royal Albert Hall. Gilmour and Beck traded solos on "Jerusalem" and closed the show with "Hi Ho Silver Lining". In August 2009, he released an online single, "Chicago – Change the World", on which he sang and played guitar, bass and keyboards, to promote awareness of the plight of Gary McKinnon. A re-titled cover of the Graham Nash song "Chicago", it featured Chrissie Hynde and Bob Geldof, plus McKinnon himself. It was produced by long-time Pink Floyd collaborator Chris Thomas. A video was also posted online.
On 11 July 2010, Gilmour performed for the charity Hoping Foundation with Roger Waters in Oxfordshire, England. The performance was presented by Jemima Goldsmith and Nigella Lawson, and according to onlookers, it seemed that Gilmour and Waters had ended their long-running feud, laughing and joking together along with their respective partners. Waters subsequently confirmed on his Facebook page that Gilmour would play "Comfortably Numb" with him during one of his shows on his upcoming The Wall Live tour – Gilmour performed the song with Waters on 12 May 2011 at The O2, London and, with Nick Mason, played with the rest of the band on "Outside the Wall" at the conclusion of the show.
Gilmour released an album with the Orb in 2010 entitled Metallic Spheres, on which he co-wrote every track and their subsequent parts, and produced, played guitar and sang. In 2011, Rolling Stone placed Gilmour at number 14 in a list of the hundred greatest guitarists of all time.
Graham Nash and Phil Taylor, Gilmour's guitar technician, both stated that Gilmour was working on a new studio album to be completed during 2014, featuring Nash along with his long-time collaborator David Crosby.
On 29 October 2014, Gilmour told Rolling Stone that his new album was "coming along very well", that "there's a few months work in it yet" and that he is "hoping to get it out this following year" (in 2015). In addition to the new album, Gilmour confirmed that there would also be a tour, but not a massive 200-date tour, more like an "old man's tour", adding: "There haven't been many discussions about the tour. But places like Radio City Music Hall sound like the right sort of vibe for me."
On 4 March 2015, Gilmour announced a tour of the UK and Europe planned from September to October 2015, his first live tour in nine years, coinciding with the release of his fourth solo studio album. On 16 July 2015, the first tour dates in 10 years were announced for North America for March to April 2016.
On 14 November 2015, Gilmour was the subject of the BBC Two documentary David Gilmour: Wider Horizons, which was billed as "an intimate portrait of one of the greatest guitarists and singers of all time, exploring his past and present."
On 31 May 2017, it was announced that Gilmour's new live album and film, Live at Pompeii, which documents the two shows he performed on 7 and 8 July 2016 at the Amphitheatre of Pompeii, would be shown at selected cinemas, for one night only, on 13 September. The album was released on 29 September 2017 and peaked at Number 3 on the UK Albums Chart. To celebrate the event, Mayor Ferdinando Uliano, made Gilmour an honorary citizen of the city. In the EPK for Live at Pompeii, Gilmour stated that he has several songs which are almost complete which did not make it onto Rattle That Lock. He also stated that he would tour again when the next album is released.
From April 2020, Gilmour appeared in a series of livestreams with his family, performing songs by Syd Barrett and Leonard Cohen. On 3 July he released "Yes, I Have Ghosts", his first single since 2015. Its lyrics were written by Samson and features his daughter Romany making her recording debut on backing vocals and harp.
Gilmour credits guitarists such as Pete Seeger, Lead Belly, Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Joni Mitchell, John Fahey, Roy Buchanan, and Hank Marvin of the Shadows as influences. Gilmour said: "I copied – don't be afraid to copy – and eventually something that I suppose that I would call my own appeared."
In 2006, Guitar World writer Jimmy Brown said his playing was "characterised by simple, huge-sounding riffs; gutsy, well-paced solos; and rich, ambient chordal textures". Rolling Stone critic Alan di Perna praised Gilmour's guitar work as an integral element of Pink Floyd's sound. Gilmour's lead guitar style is characterised by blues-influenced phrasing, expressive note bends, and sustain. In 2006, Gilmour said: "[My] fingers make a distinctive sound... [they] aren't very fast, but I think I am instantly recognisable." Pink Floyd technician Phil Taylor said: "It really is just his fingers, his vibrato, his choice of notes and how he sets his effects ... In reality, no matter how well you duplicate the equipment, you will never be able to duplicate the personality."
Gilmour also plays bass, keyboards, banjo, lap steel, mandolin, harmonica, drums, and saxophone. According to an interview with Rock Compact Disc, he played bass on many Pink Floyd records, such as the fretless bass on "Hey You". Gilmour said: "Half the time I would play bass on the records because I would tend to do it quicker [than Waters] ... Rog used to come in and say 'thank you very much' to me once in a while for winning him bass-playing polls."
According to MusicRadar, Gilmour is "a household name among the classic rock crowd, and for a lot of younger guitar fans he's the only 1970s guitarist that matters. For many he's the missing link between Jimi Hendrix and Eddie Van Halen." Writing for the website, Billy Saefong stated Gilmour "isn't as flashy as Jimi Hendrix or Jimmy Page on the stage, but his guitar work outshines most for emotion."
In 1996, Gilmour was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Pink Floyd. He has been ranked one of the greatest guitarists of all time by publications including Rolling Stone and The Daily Telegraph. In January 2007, Guitar World readers voted Gilmour's solos for "Comfortably Numb", "Time" and "Money" among the top 100 greatest guitar solos.
Gilmour is cited by Marillion guitarist Steve Rothery as one of his three main influences. John Mitchell, the guitarist of bands including It Bites and Arena, also cites Gilmour as an influence. In 2013, Gary Kemp, the guitarist and songwriter of Spandau Ballet (and also a member of Nick Mason's Saucerful of Secrets) argued that Gilmour's work on The Dark Side of the Moon "must make him the best guitar player in recent history".
Gilmour has supported charities including Oxfam, the European Union Mental Health and Illness Association, Greenpeace, Amnesty International, the Lung Foundation, Nordoff-Robbins music therapy, Teenage Cancer Trust, and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). In May 2003, Gilmour sold his house in Little Venice to the ninth Earl Spencer and donated the proceeds worth £3.6 million to Crisis to help fund a housing project for the homeless. He has been named a vice-president of the organisation. He donated £25,000 to the Save the Rhino foundation in exchange for Douglas Adams's name suggestion for the album that became The Division Bell.
On 20 June 2019, Gilmour auctioned 120 of his guitars for charity, at Christie's in New York, including his Black Strat, his #0001 and early 1954 Stratocasters, and his 1955 Les Paul. The Black Strat sold for $3,975,000, making it the most expensive guitar ever sold at auction. The auction raised $21,490,750, with the proceeds going to the environmentalist charity ClientEarth.
Gilmour's first marriage was to American-born model and artist Virginia "Ginger" Hasenbein, on 7 July 1975. The couple had four children: Alice (born 1976), Clare (born 1979), Sara (born 1983) and Matthew (born 1986). They originally attended a Waldorf School, but Gilmour called their education there "horrific". In 1994, he married writer Polly Samson. His best man was his teenage friend and Pink Floyd album artwork designer Storm Thorgerson.
Gilmour and Samson have four children: Gilmour's adopted son Charlie (born 1989 to Samson and Heathcote Williams), Joe (born 1995), Gabriel (born 1997) and Romany (born 2002). Charlie's voice can be heard on the telephone to Steve O'Rourke at the end of "High Hopes" from The Division Bell. Gabriel performed piano on the song "In Any Tongue" on the 2015 album Rattle That Lock, making his recording debut. In 2011, Charlie was jailed for 16 months for violent disorder during a London protest against tuition fees.
Gilmour is an experienced pilot and aviation enthusiast. Under the aegis of his company, Intrepid Aviation, he amassed a collection of historical aircraft. He later decided to sell the company, which he had started as a hobby, feeling that it was becoming too commercial for him to handle. In a BBC interview, he stated:
Intrepid Aviation was a way for me to make my hobby pay for itself a little bit, but gradually over a few years Intrepid Aviation became a business because you have to be businesslike about it. Suddenly I found instead of it being a hobby and me enjoying myself, it was a business and so I sold it. I don't have Intrepid Aviation any more. I just have a nice old biplane that I pop up, wander around the skies in sometimes...
Gilmour does not believe in an afterlife and is an atheist. He has stated that he is left-wing. He said that his parents were "Proper Manchester Guardian readers ... Some of their friends went on the Aldermaston Marches. Mine never did to my knowledge, but they were both committed to voting for the Labour Party." He described himself as a socialist, "even if I can't quite stick with party politics". In August 2014, Gilmour was one of 200 public figures who were signatories to a letter to The Guardian expressing their hope that Scotland would vote to remain part of the United Kingdom in the Scottish independence referendum. In May 2017, Gilmour endorsed Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn in the 2017 UK general election. He tweeted: "I'm voting Labour because I believe in social equality."
Gilmour was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2003 Birthday Honours, "for services to music". The award was presented to him at Buckingham Palace, on 7 November that year.
On 22 May 2008, he won the 2008 Ivor Novello Lifetime Contribution Award, recognising his excellence in music writing. Later that year, he was recognised for his outstanding contribution to music by the Q Awards. He dedicated his award to Pink Floyd keyboardist Richard Wright, who died in September 2008. On 11 November 2009, Gilmour received an honorary doctorate from Anglia Ruskin University.
For Gilmour's 21st birthday, in March 1967, Gilmour's parents gave him his first Fender guitar, a white Telecaster with a white pickguard and a rosewood fretboard. He used this guitar when he joined Pink Floyd in 1968, with one of Barrett's Telecasters as a spare.
Gilmour used the Black Strat, a Fender Stratocaster, in most Pink Floyd concerts and every Pink Floyd album from 1970 to 1983. Gilmour bought it at Manny's Music in New York in 1970, after the band's US tour was cancelled due to the theft of their equipment in New Orleans. The guitar, which originally had a rosewood fretboard and a white pickguard, underwent a number of modifications, settling on a black pickguard and maple neck. It was auctioned for charity in 2019 for $3.9 million, making it one of the most expensive guitars ever sold at auction.
In November 2006, Fender Custom Shop announced two reproductions of Gilmour's Black Strat for release on 22 September 2008. Phil Taylor, Gilmour's guitar technician, supervised this release and has written a book on the history of this guitar. The release date was chosen to coincide with the release of Gilmour's Live in Gdańsk album. Both guitars are based on extensive measurements of the original instrument, each featuring varying degrees of wear. The most expensive is the David Gilmour Relic Stratocaster which features the closest copy of wear on the original guitar. A pristine copy of the guitar is also made, the David Gilmour NOS Stratocaster.
The 0001 Strat is a Fender Stratocaster with a white body, maple neck, three-way pick up selector and an unusual gold colour scratch plate and hardware. Gilmour bought it from guitar technician Phil Taylor, who had purchased it from Seymour Duncan. Gilmour used the guitar in the 2004 Strat Pack show that commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Stratocaster at Wembley Arena along with one of his Candy Apple Red Stratocasters (famous for their appearances with Gilmour from 1987 to 2004). It has the serial number 0001; however, prototypes had been constructed before this one. The origin of the guitar is unknown, and it is unknown whether it is the real 0001 Strat because the neck (which has the 0001 serial number on it) could have been taken off the original. The model was used as a spare and for slide guitar in subsequent years. In 2019, the 0001 Strat was sold at auction for $1,815,000, setting a new world auction record for a Stratocaster.
Gilmour also owns an early 1954 Stratocaster, believed to predate Fender's commercial release of the model.
Along with the Fender models, Gilmour has also used a Gibson Les Paul goldtop model with P-90 pick-ups during recording sessions for The Wall and A Momentary Lapse of Reason. It was used for the guitar solo on "Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2".
Gilmour also plays a Gretsch Duo-Jet, a Gretsch White Falcon, and a "White Penguin". He played a Bill Lewis 24-fret guitar during the Meddle and Dark Side of the Moon recording sessions, and a Steinberger GL model which was his main guitar during A Momentary Lapse of Reason recording sessions.
Gilmour has used many acoustic guitars, including a Gibson Chet Atkins classical model, and a Gibson J-200 Celebrity, acquired from John Illsley of Dire Straits. Gilmour used several Ovation models including a Custom Legend 1619-4, and a Custom Legend 1613-4 nylon string guitar, both during The Wall recording sessions. Martin models used include a D-35, purchased in New York in 1971, and a D12-28 12-string.
Gilmour used a pair of Jedson steel guitars and a Fender 1000 pedal steel frequently in the early 1970s. Originally purchased from a pawn shop while Gilmour was in Seattle in 1970, the Jedson was used during recording of "One of These Days" from Meddle and "Breathe" and "The Great Gig in the Sky" from Dark Side of the Moon. Gilmour also owns a Fender Deluxe lap steel, which he used during The Division Bell tour in 1994. Gilmour also owns a Champ lap steel model. Along with the Fender steel models Gilmour has also used: a Gibson EH150, and two Jedson models: one red (1977-tuned D-G-D-G-B-E for "Shine On You Crazy Diamond, Parts 6–9", 1987–2006: Tuned E-B-E-G-B-E for "High Hopes") and one blonde. He also uses a ZB steel model. Gilmour played pedal steel guitar on the album Blue Pine Trees by Unicorn.
Gilmour has played the bass guitar both in the studio and onstage, and has played many bass models including: an Ovation Magnum, a Fender Bass VI, Fender Precision and Jazz bass models and a Charvel fretless (all used during The Wall recording sessions). During the 1991 Amnesty International concert Gilmour used a Music Man Fretless Stingray bass while conducting the house band and again during Spinal Tap's performance of "Big Bottom".
In 2004 EMG, Inc. released the DG20 Signature guitar pickup kit for the Fender Stratocaster. The set included three active pickups, an EXG Guitar Expander for increased treble and bass frequencies, and a SPC presence control to enhance earthiness and mid-range. The system came pre-wired on a custom 11-hole white pearl pickguard with white knobs.
The kit was based on the configuration mounted on Gilmour's red Stratocaster during the Momentary Lapse of Reason and Division Bell tours.