• Top 5 David Gilmour guest appearances

    David Gilmour guest appearances

    David Gilmour has done some memorable guest appearances over the years. His instantly recognisable tone and soulful playing is often what makes those songs so special. At least to me. In this feature I’ll share my top 5 guest appearances by David.

    Remember back in the mid 80s when MTV was playing music? Real music? I was about 10, I guess, when I first saw Paul McCartney upon the rooftop singing No More Lonely Nights. Obviously, I knew who Paul was but what caught my attention, every time, was this guitar solo.

    At the time, my life was basically all about hard rock. I knew nothing about Pink Floyd nor David Gilmour, but I knew I liked this guitar solo that I heard. For all I cared, it could be McCartney himself playing guitar. Years later, having become a Floyd fan, I heard the song again and then it hit me who it was. No wonder I liked it!

    David did a lot of guest appearances in the late 80s and early 90s. This was a time when few outside the business and the hardcore fan base knew his name. People knew Pink Floyd but ask a guy on the street who David Gilmour was and he would probably shake his head. David was not chosen as a guest player because of his name but his playing and tone.

    As a guest musician, David often repeats himself. You’ve often heard the lick or tone before but that’s kind of the nature of the gig too. A guest musician is often asked to “do that thing that you do”. Artists choose you because they want that tone on their song or album. Still, it’s remarkable how well David’s playing always fits in and how it almost always takes centre stage.

    Here are my top 5 guest appearances by David.

    Paul McCartney – No More Lonely Nights (1984)

    Despite the otherwise boring album, McCartney deliver a timeless ballad, beautifully arranged and of course, with David’s guitar as the definitive highpoint. It’s one of the few songs I know that doesn’t get an early fade out when played on the radio.

    One of my favourite moments is that first lick after the first line in the chorus. There’s nothing subtle about it and the guitar just rips through the whole mix and grabs the listener. It’s a perfect hook.

    The song has a warm feel and the lyrics makes you just want to curl up in your sofa but as a contrast, the guitar is cold and aggressive giving the impression of anger and resentment.

    To me, this is a perfect pop song. I love everything about it and it’s always been one of my favourite Gilmour moments. Perhaps, partly because it hit me just when I started to discover music but it’s been a huge inspiration for me and my own music and I often have that rainy atmosphere and David’s tone in the back of my head when I’m writing.

    For the session David used his 1983 fiesta red ’63 reissue Fender Stratocaster into a (possibly two) Fender Concert amp. At that point, the guitar had been modified with a Roland synthesiser pickup driving a Roland GR700 processor.

    It’s hard to tell whether he used the Roland setup. It does’t sound like it and the effects rack used on the About Face tour can be spotted in the studio. If I were to guess, I would say that he used a Boss CS2 compressor into either a ram’s head Big Muff or Boss HM-2 (the latter possibly in combo with a Mesa Boogie MkI head), with a Boss CE2 chorus and MXR digital delay.
    



    Bryan Ferry – Is Your Love Strong Enough

    I’ve always been a huge Roxy Music and Bryan Ferry fan and David has done a lot of work with Ferry over the years. Is Your Love Strong Enough (featured on the Legend soundtrack), was recorded in 1985, shortly after the McCartney collaboration and you can hear the resemblance in the way David approaches his tone and playing.

    While No More Lonely Nights has this intimate and down to earth feel, this song is bombastic and huge sounding. David delivers a flashy guitar solo that fits the song perfectly, with some amazing bends and whammy bar moves.

    But let’s face it. David doesn’t really fit the rock star image and the way he is portrayed in the video, coming out of that wall covered in light and smoke, is so out of character. Still, we get a glimpse of the #0001 Stratocaster, which at least at the time, had rarely been seen.

    It’s hard to tell what he used for the session. Although the tone is familiar, it is less typical than No More Lonely Nights and other work sounding a bit mid rangy and dark. Ferry often like to produce the guitars himself, so there might have been the case of David using whatever gear, or at least effects, he was handed although there’s a lot of processing you can do to a recorded guitar in the mixing.

    Jeff Beck – Jerusalem (Live at RAH 2009)

    This one pretty much speaks for it self. Two of the greatest guitarists on the same stage, clearly showing huge admiration for each other. Jeff Beck’s version Jerusalem is in itself a masterpiece and it was such a surprise to see them do this together.

    This is by no means a perfect performance from David. It’s kind of typical of him concentrating on everything sounding perfect, rather than what he’s actually playing. Still, once he gets everything sorted out, he delivers beautifully with an amazing feel.

    It’s also interesting to hear how much more technical Beck is and apart the fact that he’s played this song numerous times, he’s seemingly more on top of his game. But listen to David and the way he’s improvising, clearly revealing his deep blues roots. To me, this performance shows just how emotional David’s playing is and it says a lot about why he’s so much more than just the epic Floyd solos.

    Setupwise, you can spot three Alessandro tube heads on top of two WEM speaker cabinets and of course, the Black Strat. He’s using the Pete Cornish MkII All Tubes pedal board, with a Tube Driver and delay (and possibly some compression).

    Paul McCartney – No Other Baby

    Back in 1999 I was starved for anything Gilmour related. It had already been five years since the last Floyd album and tour and apart from the occasional guest appearance, there was just a deafening silence. Then, this album appeared with David being the main guitarist on all the songs.

    I’m not sure what I had expected. I knew it was Paul returning to his roots, with a few covers and some new original material but I guess I had expected David to sound like, well, David. He didn’t.

    Still, I listened to the album a lot and when the Cavern gig turned up on DVD I thought it was so cool to see David up on that small stage doing something completely different. And it sounded great!

    Again, this is a great example of how you can hear a song and as soon as the guitar enters, you go “Ah! I know who’s playing!” The solo is simple but there’s no doubt who’s doing those bends and the little fills in between. 



    On this live clip from Live at the Cavern Club, David’s using his ’55 Fender Esquire into a Fender Bassman, with the Pete Cornish All Tubes MkI pedal board. The main effect setup for the show, including No Other Baby, was a Tube Driver with a hint of delay and probably some compression when needed.

    Paul Rogers – Standing Around Crying

    Standing Around Crying was originally written and recorded by blues legend Muddy Waters in the mid 50s. Paul Rogers (Free/Bad Company) and David Gilmour recorded this version for the 1993 tribute album Muddy Waters Blues, which featured an impressive list of guitar greats.

    David’s performance and tone is typical of how he sounded in the early 90s and the many guest appearances he did during that period. You can hear the same approach on songs like Heaven Can Wait (Paul Young), I Put a Spell on You (Mica Paris) and Understanding Women (Elton John).

    What I love about this version, apart from David’s amazing tone, is that you can hear where his blues influences are coming from. There’s lots of BB King, Albert King and Peter Green in there and you can almost pin point each lick to each legend. Still, it sounds like David and he’s added something new and unique to the classic style.

    I also love that you can hear that this is clearly a single run through (or at least very little editing). It’s not perfect and there are all these little mistakes and fret noises but that’s also the beauty of the performance.

    There are no records from the sessions, as far as I know, but it is likely that he used the candy apple red 1983 Fender ’57 reissue Stratocaster, with the EMG pickups into a Fender Bassman or Deluxe. It could have been a Hiwatt SA212 combo but to my ears, the tone sound less mid rangy, which hints towards a Fender.

    Effectswise I would assume he used a Chandler Tube Driver, possibly with a Boss CS-2 in front, with a Boss CE-2 chorus and the MXR Digital Delay rack.

    So, there you have it! My top 5 David Gilmour guest appearances. I’m sure you have a different list and maybe I forgot one or two gems? Please share!

35 Responsesso far.

  1. Lucas says:

    David sounded totally thin and harsh compared to jef beck and i even dont like the other guy, i dont know where he is going, but seems like the age is killing his abillity to hear properly the highs and the amount of gain.
    Bjorn, i know david used a g12m and the cresendo on Pulse, but those speakers are dificult to find, and pair Togheter, would you recommend me a single speaker that sound like those Togheter?

  2. _don says:

    Gilmour was a guest on Kate Bush’s album Sensual World in the late 80s. He was on Love and Anger with some power chords before hitting the solo for the outro. He was also on Rocket’s Tail doing some cool sound effect solo. Classics Dave and Kate’s album is one of her best (in my opinion).

  3. Veg says:

    Nice list Bjorn!
    Well done and I’m thrilled as I didn’t even know some of these clips of DG were around :-)
    peace
    Veg

  4. larryrivers says:

    Hi Bjorn! Great selection, the 80´s were not easy if you were a 70´s dinasour! David managed to pull off some tricky collaborations by delivering great solos again and as you explain, he tested different guitars and effects and amps to achieve new tones. My personal favourites were the ones with Steinberger guitars, used a lot in teh 80´s, great tone. specially the GL3T. Nice pickups, I had one for a while. Anyways, my top 3 are:

    Rock aid Armenia. Smoke on the water. David in a solo duel with Brian May, fun stuff. When it came out i probalby listened to it 1 million times.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1tsw3nKDlBE

    Kate Bush – Running up that hill. I think it was in the Amnesty International concerts back in the 80s. Great perfomance.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W5wc1R0AQ_M

    Tom Jones – Purple Rain Live. I´d love to see the full show with Tom Jones and David, but this only is worth everyminute. David nails it with the final solo. Is he using the big muff right?
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b-yduZT5I8Q

    Cheers

  5. Tony Sower says:

    Hi Bjørn,

    Some great choices there. My favourite is No More Lonely Nights. DG’s guitar work on that song reminds me of Comfortably Numb in that the first solo is highly melodic and the second is more blues/rock-based.

    Another guest appearance that I like is on the Kate Bush number Rocket’s Tail.

    Keep up the great work with Gilmourish.com :)

    Best wishes,

    Tony

  6. Tom Robinson says:

    Love his playing on No More Lonely Nights, but I think my favourite guest appearance is on Pete Townshend’s Give Blood. It’s lots of delay like Run Like Hell, apparently Pete asked him to do “that rick-ticky thing”.

    The whole of the deep end live album is good, but Give Blood studio track is a real highlight. Unfortunately Pete’s solo work doesn’t get much of an outing live these days so will probably never be played again.

  7. Daniel says:

    I think the best is Berlin’s “Pink and Velvet”… have you heard it?… this solo is the high point of the Album… it is just amazing… Terri Nunn the singer said she wanted to marry Gilmour after watching him recording the solo for this song. It is a so emotive solo.. heaven

  8. Paco says:

    I would add to this list the song In A Broken Dream with Rod Stewart and J.P.Jones… A Beautiful cover and a great performance by The Master…!!!

  9. james says:

    bjorn… check out the dvd of david’s appearance in bill wyman’s scotty moore tribute from several years ago. david plays the old and little remembered gem of elvis’ called “don’t”. he uses a tele and shows the world EXACTLY how a tele should sound.what taste that man plays with! pity he didn’t use them more often. he sings also. but don’t just watch it for dave ; there are many great musicians and they play far better than usual on these ensemble-band get togethers. seriously…..it’s a treat all the way through and very re-watchable.

  10. Zapruder says:

    I’ve always loved David on All About Eve’s “Wishing The Hours Away” (1991) … https://youtu.be/Lg7OTXIDgLk

  11. Beautiful. I’m a big All About Eve fan, and Gilmour plays a big part on their “Touched By Jesus” album. Give “Wishing the Hours Away” and “Are You Lonely” a listen; such beautiful, atmospheric songs featuring his signature, stunning sound.

  12. ruodi says:

    Give blood, yes, it cannot be denied:

  13. Mike Day says:

    Search you tube for the trial of Ralph Mctell Bjorn. Takes a bit of finding but very funny. According to Phil Taylor, Mark Knopfler used Davids Guitar and pedal board for the sketch and still maintained his signature sound

  14. Brad Roller says:

    I like when he played the solo to purple rain live! And hey joe with Seal. Great article Bjorn! I love these types of articles!

  15. Pat says:

    I like Cryin’ won’t let you help you babe
    On BB King Deuces

  16. Zapruder says:

    We mustn’t forget future Pink Floyd backing vocalist Sam Brown’s 1988 debut album, “Stop”, which features a classic Gilmour performance on “I’ll Be In Love”. One of my very favourites. https://youtu.be/Q85rVFZ9zaI

  17. Jorswar says:

    Wow…the man sure can play the blues!! thank you Bjorn for introducing me to the Rodgers album. .

  18. Maarten says:

    a lot of unknown little gems here.

    i personally like the slide guitar in Alan Parsons – Return to Tunguska
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4M5JCmgZgZs

    btw, see you soon in Zoetermeer :-)

  19. Will says:

    Hi Bjorn, excellent article, I’m looking forward to checking out the bits I wasn’t familiar with! On an unrelated note, I was thinking it’d be fantastic if you were to write up an article on vibrato, techniques and different styles of it with of course David’s sound in mind. Keep up the good work!

  20. You can also add these:
    Broken Dream: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-S9kuSLtupM – With Rod Stewart and John Paul Jones
    Ben Watt with David Gilmour / ‘The Levels’ (Live): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WG2Xh523Dt0
    The Orb featuring David Gilmour Metallic Spheres https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=den8ofw1qFg
    David Courtney – ‘When Your Life Is Your Own’ (from the album ‘Anthology’): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tT_XtTdAlNY
    David Gilmour w/ Seal – Hey Joe: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IPAjf2B3oR0

  21. MauriFromChile says:

    Bjorn ! check out the collaboration with Snowy White, “Love, Pain and Sorrow” :D

  22. Lorenzo says:

    Great article Bjorn. “No more lonely nights” is my favourite although I think he used his Electric Mistress rather than the CE-2, it sounds soooo the wallish to my ears.
    Cheers

  23. Marcello C says:

    Love that one with Paul Rodgers, fantastic…..but what makes you say that it was the red strat? I would have guessed a Les Paul with P90…..
    Great Post, thanxs

    • Bjorn says:

      He did use the red Strat a lot at that point, also on several guest appearances. I can’t remember seeing him using a Les Paul at that point.

      • Marcello C says:

        Roger that. However, that record is from 1993 and he could have indeed used a LP 1955 with P90 sometimes during that year, according to your post the Endless River 1993&2014 :-). I trust your experience, but it`s such a beefy tone….

        • Bjorn says:

          There are no sources confirming either so it’s hard to tell. Yes, he did use the LP on the ’93 sessions. It’s at least seen in the guitar stand but he used the red more often and also for guest appearances. I also hear that slightly processed EMG tone, although he’s clearly using chorus as well. Anyway, it would be great to see some pictures from that session. Awesome tone!

  24. Jae says:

    That’s the first time I’ve seen the Jeff Beck collaboration. I saw Jeff and SRV tour together in 1990 or so and walked out with my hands in my pockets. I was so overwhelmed I couldn’t look at my Strat for almost a week. What I’m getting at is that tp walk out on stage with someone like Jeff Beck ( or Dave Gilmour) you must be very confident in your own skills as a guitarist.

    But thanks for the videos, I remember going to see “Give my Regards to Broad Street” just for the Lonely Nights part. And you reminded me that I don’t have the Cavern Club gig in my DVD collection. I’ll have to look for that.

    What was that song he did with the singer(?) from Supertramp back in the mid-80’s? Great trip down memory lane Bjorn!

  25. Fred says:

    Paul McCartney & Friends – DVD from 2001 – The Peta Concert for Party Animals. Watch / Listen to ‘No Other Baby’……. this is the one……

  26. KEITH says:

    Hey Bjorn, and my friendd on Gilmourish. It’s no secret that I’ve had a number of health issues that caused me to permanently retire from my Plumbing, and HVAC business, going deeply in debt, and having pawned ALL of my guitar’s, my Reeves, my recording equipment, all of it, for pennies on the dollar. Please keep your fingers crossed for me, as I may have had a loan aporoved that will get EVERYTHING back, and oay of a great deal of my debt. I am also one step closer to getting my disability claim processed, which the first check should be 7-8000 dollars, and would pay off 90℅ of all my debt, and the then monthly check would keep me from goung into debt, so I don’t have to kerp the cycle of pawning my beloved gear! I worked day and night for 6 or 7 years to accrue the over $35,000 worth of gear on top of the few thousand dollars of stuff I already had. While this may not be a big deal to most of you, it represents everything I have, and love, and will enable me to start recording bands ti supplement my disability payments. So, please keep your fingers crossed for me, I am 7 days away from losing it all, and if this goes as it serms to be pretty much a done deal, I will not lose a single pedal! Thanks for your friendship, and support Bjorn, Brad, Stephen, and all my friends in the Gilmourish community. I love you all, and this site

    Peace, and love to all, KEITH

    • Bjorn says:

      Wow, that’s some heavy stuff you’re going through there and you’ve shared a lot with me privately as well. Keeping my figers crossed but whatever happen, never lose hope. Take care and keep us posted.

Hey! How about a comment on this post?