When we think of rock legends, names like Pete Townshend of The Who and David Gilmour of Pink Floyd immediately come to mind. Their timeless music has left an indelible mark on the world of rock and roll, and their influence can be felt in generations of musicians that followed. But did you know that these two titans of rock once collaborated, with Townshend swooping in to save Gilmour from a dire situation in the early 1980s?
Gilmour and Townshend had been friends for many years, and their mutual respect and admiration for one another’s talent formed the basis of their relationship. This bond would prove to be a saving grace for Gilmour when he found himself struggling to complete two songs, ‘Love on the Air’ and ‘All Lovers are Deranged,’ for his 1984 solo album, ‘About Face.’
This collaborative spirit between Gilmour and Townshend extended beyond the recording studio. In the mid-1980s, Townshend formed a 16-piece band called ‘Deep End,’ and with Pink Floyd between projects at the time, Gilmour found himself available to serve as the lead guitarist. This short-lived but memorable experience had already solidified their bond as musicians and friends, showcasing their ability to create magic on stage together, so David reaching out to Pete when he was in dire need of help was a natural outcome.
With time running out and inspiration at an all-time low, Gilmour turned to his trusted friend Townshend for help in finishing these tracks, and their fascinating tale of friendship and artistic camaraderie was unearthed from a January 1985 interview with David Gilmour, titled ‘Out of the PINK and into the BLUES,’ which was later included in the collector’s yearbook ‘Guitar Classics VI’ in 1993.
As Gilmour recounted in the interview, he sent Townshend a cassette with just the backing tracks, leaving him free to add his own creative touch. It was a leap of faith that Gilmour took, entrusting his friend with the artistic direction of these songs, and it paid off. When the cassette returned to him, Gilmour was thrilled with the outcome; he only made minor adjustments.
In the interview, David Gilmour shared the details of this desperate situation:
“I had lyrics for those songs, but I really didn’t like them. I asked him for help because I was running short on time and even shorter on the inspiration for improving the lyrics. I was very pleasantly surprised when I got the cassette back for ‘Love on the Air.’ I like where he put the line and how he did the vocal. I had heard the vocal line in a completely different place and deliberately sent Pete a tape with no melody on it.
It was just a completed backing track with no lines on it at all and no ideas as to what I thought the lyrics should be. He didn’t have any restrictions. Of course, in some places in which I intended to be instrumental, he put words on. ‘Lovers’ was the same situation, only I changed the placement of his melody and lyrics a bit.”
The collaboration between Gilmour and Townshend showcases the powerful synergy that can arise when two extraordinary talents come together. Despite the time constraints and creative challenges they faced, their joint effort resulted in the completion of two remarkable songs that still resonate with listeners today.
Gilmour’s trust in Townshend’s abilities and Townshend’s willingness to lend a helping hand in a time of need are a testament to the strength of their friendship and the magic that can happen when artists support one another.
As we look back on this incredible story, we are reminded of the power of collaboration and its impact on the creative process. Gilmour’s decision to reach out to Townshend ultimately led to the successful completion of two outstanding tracks and solidified their bond as artists and friends.