The Way David Gilmour Transformed Pink Floyd into the best Progressive Rock Band of All Time

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Pink Floyd needs no introduction, formed in 1964, this band is a gem of the 20th century. Moreover, the band hit commercial success right after dropping their debut album The Piper at the Gates of Dawn however, they still had a long way to go. Their big breakthrough came after they released their eighth studio album The Dark Side of the Moon in 1973. Following the immense success of their eighth studio album, they followed up with a bang Wish You Were Here, two years after their previous album. Moreover, they released several other albums in the 70s.

It’s insane that even after decades Pink Floyd’s influence has not been down. Moreover, their level of psychedelic music is absolutely crazy and unmatched by any band. And considering all the hard work and struggle they faced, they deserve each and everything they are getting now. So how did the journey of Pink Floyd actually start?

Pink Floyd’s formation

When in college were you in some band? Well, most boys form a band or two while in college or school. Similarly, Pink Floyd was also formed by some school lads. Along with Syd Barrett, Roger Waters, Nick Mason, and Richard Wright, they formed a band and started calling themselves the Tea Set. However, there was a slight problem with the name as there was another band with the same name.

After that, they started thinking of another name, and Barrett remembered two of America’s iconic musicians Pink Anderson and Floyd Council, inspired by these two blues guitarists Barrett suggested the name The Pink Floyd Sound. However, after some time they settled with Pink Floyd.

David Gilmour’s entry in Pink Floyd

After getting commercial success they were eagerly working hard to make their name more popular, however, Barrett got addicted to psychedelic drugs and started having a mental illness. He was out of control all the time and the band could not handle him. Troubled by Barrett the band decided they need a new member.

David was in Jokers Wild back then however, after Nick Mason invited him to cover Barrett he left the Jokers Wild and joined Pink Floyd. Furthermore, Gilmour was also an old friend of Barrett. However, Gilmour was not their first choice, it was reported that they wanted Jeff Beck to replace Barrett which even Gilmour has admitted in several interviews. When asked about the rumor Gilmour said, “Yes, that’s right. I’m not sure they contacted him. But they considered calling him, they always said they would have loved to recruit Jeff. He’s an amazing guitarist. But I don’t know if he would have been perfect for this job. We’ll never know. But the story would have been quite different.”

However, Gilmour was not a permanent member yet as they decided that Barrett will continue to write songs at home and Gilmour would sing however, Barrett was so unreliable that the band had no choice but outcast him. With Barrett gone, they needed someone to replace him, and who would have been a more suitable replacement for Barrett than Gilmour?

Gilmour and Waters’ songwriting partnership

David had already proved to be more than capable of being the frontman and the lead vocalist of the band. However, Gilmour felt some guilt over replacing his childhood friend, he said in an interview, “It was kind of tragic. I don’t suppose I saw any option, but to just do the best that I could. I’m sure we were all full of some sort of guilt, and remained that way for a long time.”

Since Barrett was unreliable, the keyboardist Richard Wright and bassist Roger Waters became the main writers of the band but sadly their partnership was not much successful. And yet, Gilmour’s vocal and guitar work was something fans loved so naturally, Gilmour became a really valuable member of the band.

Furthermore, without Barrett, the band was puzzled as to what niche they should continue on. They then released their first soundtrack album without Barrett. Gilmour then became the lead vocalist of the band however, they were yet to make a big hit.

Then in 1971, the world would witness the best songwriting partnership in the band between Gilmour and Waters. They released their new album Meddle in 1971 which was commercially successful in the United Kingdom and was also well received by the audiences. However, they could not sell much in the US because they could not promote properly in the country. Their partnership created masterpieces that are also the band’s most successful tracks including Wish You Were Here, One the Run, Young Lust, Dogs, Comfortably Numb, and more. And although Waters wrote most of the lyrics, Gilmour was behind the writing of their music which certainly was also really crucial.

Furthermore, with all these great tracks and albums, Gilmour’s rich and quality music gave a clear direction to the band’s niche. Moreover, Gilmour admits that when the band was puzzled with their niche, he used the opportunity to experiment, he said in an interview, “I don’t think the band really knew quite where they wanted to go after Syd’s departure. ‘A Saucerful of Secrets’ was a very important track; it gave us our direction forward. If you take ‘A Saucerful of Secrets,’ ‘Atom Heart Mother’ [from 1970’s Atom Heart Mother] and ‘Echoes’ [from 1971’s Meddle] – all lead logically to Dark Side of the Moon.”

How Pink Floyd became Gilmour’s group

After the huge success, Roger Waters wanted to dominate Gilmour in every way, and with their conflict and creative differences, they could not work together anymore. Then came their 1979 album The Wall where Waters took the lead. Following The Wall, Pink Floyd’s twelfth studio album The Final Cut was released in 1983 where Waters was the sole songwriter as well as the singer.

After The Final Cut, Rogers left the band for good however, he sued the band as he thought that the band should not continue without him and even publically said Pink Floyd was, “a spent force creatively.” But the band was not going to stay quiet about it either they fought back and won the case.

Gilmour saved Pink Floyd from breaking up as their 1987 album A Momentary Lapse of Reason was a complete work of Gilmour which became a massive success. It also reached number 3 in both UK and US music charts. Furthermore, it also topped their previous album The Final Cut in sales. Likewise, they followed Momentary Lapse with their new album The Division Bell in 1994 which also proved to be a massive hit as it topped charts in several countries including the UK, US, Australia, Germany, New Zealand, Italy, and more.

Moreover, they promoted this album with the US-Europe tour which also proved to be a huge success as they sold over five million tickets with around a hundred million gross collections. This album was also certified double platinum. Later in 2005 Waters joined Pink Floyd for Live 8 which was a benefit concert. CBS News reported that Gilmour talked about the band’s feud with Waters and said, “The moment was bigger than those bad feelings, any squabbles Roger and the band have had in the past are so petty in this context, and if reforming for this concert will help focus attention, then it’s going to be worthwhile.”

Furthermore, Gilmour also stated that all of them were on their best behavior, he said, “There were times when Roger was struggling to not get bossy, and I was struggling to keep being bossy, I saw how arguments could have happened, but we aren’t at each other’s throats anymore. Getting rid of that acrimony has got to be a good thing. Who wants to have that fester in your mind the rest of your life?”

Gilmour adopted Pink Floyd just like the rest of the members adopted him and together they became one very powerful force. It is now really hard for us to imagine Pink Floyd without Gilmour, likewise, we can say the same for Barrett, we don’t have a clue what Pink Floyd would have been like if Barrett never left the band. Although it seems that David Gilmour saved Pink Floyd, we can’t forget the main force behind the band Roger Waters, Nick Mason, and Richard Wright.

However, big applause goes to Gilmour as he did his best to shape Pink Floyd being the heart of the band. And although Waters had a big hand in Pink Floyd’s success, we can all agree that without Gilmour they could not have reached the heights they reached.

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