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    Pink Floyd: The Gilmour Years

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    By November of 1967 The Pink Floyd had seen enough of the downward spiral of Syd Barrett. According to Rick Wright, the band tried desperately to get some help for Syd but Syd was not interested. In November of 1967 the band turned to long-time friend David Gilmour to step in and keep things rolling.

    When he was asked to join Pink Floyd in January of 1968, Gilmour was in desperate need of money. He is asked to mimic Syd’s guitar parts as much as possible while also singing Syd’s vocals. Syd would sometimes sing the wrong words off key, or he would play the same note on his guitar for an entire song. By March of 1968 the band decided that Syd could not perform anymore and asked him to remain home and just write songs. On April 6, 1968 the band officially announced that Syd had left the group and David Gilmour had taken over the guitar and vocals work.

    The first album David Gilmour appeared on was 1968 release A Saucerful of Secrets. Gilmour played on four of the songs from the record and split time on the song “Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun” with Syd Barrett. The album sounded like a band that has lost its songwriter, but it also introduced the notion of soundscapes that would be the Pink Floyd sound for many years to come.

    Immediately after the release of A Saucerful of Secrets, Pink Floyd was asked to work on a movie soundtrack that wound up being the Soundtrack for the Film More. Gilmour was given more writing credits and contributed most of the lead vocals on the record. Even though such Floyd staples as “Green is the Colour” and “Cymbaline” appeared on the record, it was a rushed effort that the band was unhappy with.

    By the end of 1969, the band was moving more into pieces of music rather than songs and beginning to develop a reputation for being an album band rather than a pop band that made singles. In October of 1969 they released Ummagumma. The album rocketed to number 5 on the British charts and was the first Floyd album to make an appearance on the Billboard Charts peaking at number 74.

    In 1970 Pink Floyd released Atom Heart Mother. Roger Waters described the title track as “the soundtrack to a movie that does not exist.” Many people point to Meddle as the point at which Pink Floyd started to turn a corner and head towards the sound that would make them world famous, but if you listen to Atom Heart Mother you can hear the beginnings of a band that is starting to become comfortable in their songwriting. The title track to the album is an interesting piece of music that helped to usher in the era of progressive rock. Songs such as “If” by Roger Waters and “Fat Old Sun” by David Gilmour show a promise that had not been seen in previous Floyd efforts with Gilmour.

    By the time Meddle was released in October of 1971, the band was desperate to write new material. The first song on the record was “One of These Days” and it was based on a bass guitar riff that David Gilmour had stumbled upon while playing with a tape delay. Other songs such as “Fearless” and “Pillow of Winds” were primarily written by Gilmour. When the band sat down to write more material for the album, Rick Wright hit a note on his piano that seemed to go on forever to Roger Waters. The band instantly began working on parts for what would eventually become their iconic classic “Echoes.”

    After releasing another film soundtrack in Obscured By Clouds in 1972, the band sat down to write what would eventually become Dark Side of the Moon. Nick Mason refers to the writing process as all of the band members working together towards a single end. The album became one of the best selling albums of all time, and it started Pink Floyd on a slide towards disaster.

    After Dark Side of the Moon, the band released another classic album with Wish You Were Here in 1975. By this point the band began to question their own motivation, and they turned to writing about the past by creating an album dedicated to Syd Barrett and what Roger Waters believed the music industry did to destroy Barrett. Rick Wright referred to the album as his personal favorite of all of the Floyd albums. The recording of the album was marked by a visit from Barrett, who the band had not seen in years. Syd wandered into the studio during the recording of “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” and announced that he was ready to re-join the group. They all attended David Gilmour’s wedding reception at the Abbey Road cafeteria that night, and the band never saw Syd again.

    By the time Animals was released in 1977, Roger Waters had assumed all of the songwriting duties for the band. He wrote the lyrics, he dictated the marketing for the albums and the only other person that had a writing credit on the album was David Gilmour for his contribution to the song “Dogs.” The band would argue to the point of physical fighting. Roger Waters wanted everything his way, and he was starting to wonder why he even needed some of the members of Pink Floyd in the first place.

    During the Animals tour, Roger Waters began to develop a disdain for stadium shows and the fans in general. In Montreal he had spit on a fan, and nearly incited a riot by admonishing fans for bringing fireworks to shows and talking while the band was playing. David Gilmour was so disgusted by Roger’s behavior that he refused to play the encore in Montreal and left it to Snowy White to play guitar.

    The experience in Montreal caused Roger to imagine a large wall being put between the band and the fans. He brought his concept to the band, and it became the 1979 release The Wall. The album went on to become one of the best selling double albums of all time, and the subsequent tour was one of the greatest rock and roll live spectacles ever created. But the band lost money because of Roger’s vision. When it came time to do a movie about The Wall, Roger dismissed the ideas of his bandmates and pushed ahead with his vision. The success the band had achieved had gone to Roger’s head. During the recording of the album he fired founding member Rick Wright, but allowed Wright to stay on as a hired musician for the tour.

    The Final Cut was released in 1983, and it lists only Roger Waters as a writer and producer. Waters was beginning to use more studio musicians and drummer Nick Mason was being left out of more and more sessions. Waters determined that there was no point to touring with the album even though Mason and Gilmour were prepared to hit the road. In 1984 Roger Waters announced that he was leaving the band, and Pink Floyd would cease to exist. David Gilmour had other plans.

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