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06/30/2006 Entry: "David Gilmour: Music That Changed My Life"

From Harp Magazine:

My influences are A composite, really; it’s a whole range of things that moved me. I was very into Pete Seeger and folk music, and at the same time I was into the Shadows, Cliff Richards’ backing band. The Shadows’ guitar player, Hank Marvin, played sort of melodic guitar stuff and had a great tone that was unmistakably him. I was also into Leadbelly, the 12-string blues-folk music of his variety. So it was a composite of all these strangely different influences that put together what I became.

The first two things that really turned me on with the magic of rock ’n’ roll were “Rock Around the Clock” by Bill Haley and “Heartbreak Hotel” by Elvis Presley. These were two things that came out when I was 10, in 1956, and were just momentous musical moments. By the time I’d gotten to playing guitar three years later, I wanted to learn that sort of stuff. But I’d also gotten into this first-guitar record, a tutor record by Pete Seeger, which moved me into a slightly different direction at the same time.

The Shadows, they just appealed to me as a young boy. I learned the basic rhythm and lead parts on every record through my scratchy little radio. (I’d listen to Radio Luxembourg into the night.) Hank Marvin was not really what you could call a bluesy type guitar player. He just sort of played melodies on the guitar. And that has always influenced what I’ve done.

And Elvis Presley, really—”Heartbreak Hotel.” It’s not just the guitar. It’s the whole thing of a record like that where everything is exquisite. There’s a double-bass, and there’s a piano and very light-touch drums and the guitar. These very few, fantastically, beautifully organized elements just come together to make something that works; it’s so spare, but so good. That—and Elvis’ voice—just did make me want to do something like that. But finding the way to do it, finding how I wanted to do it, took me years—and all these other influences.

The guitar started off with this Hank Marvin thing, but it also started off with all the folk music influences, the 12-string influences. Then people like Eric Clapton’s early stuff started having an influence on me. And Pete Townsend’s sort of wild, savage, chopping electric rhythm guitars. And Hendrix came along. Every time something new came along, I was learning it. I did learn to play absolutely everything that I liked. And each of those things, subconsciously, are building blocks.

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