David Bowie’s bohemian world was one that sported Pink Floyd as both a pioneering influence, an inspiration and a lifelong passion. The late Syd Barrett, in particular, who fronted Pink Floyd from their genesis until April 1968 when he was ousted, was a huge influence on Bowie.
“Syd was a major inspiration for me,” Bowie declared in the wake of his death back in 2006. “He was so charismatic and such a startlingly original songwriter.”
Later adding, “Also, along with Anthony Newley, he was the first guy I’d heard to sing pop or rock with a British accent. His impact on my thinking was enormous. A major regret is that I never got to know him. A diamond indeed.”
However, his departure from the band far from diminished Bowie’s love of the group and if you really want to find Bowie at his hero-worshipping best then the recordings of Remember that Night is where you need to head. The live concert film contains over five hours of footage from a 2006 show that documented David Gilmour’s incarnation of Pink Floyd playing at the Royal Albert Hall.
Bowie was due to perform a duet of ‘Comfortably Numb’ on the evening, but he took some time to joke around backstage to speak to the cameras, and he was evidently buzzed to be given the opportunity. His performance on the night was scintillating to such a degree that Gilmour remarked, “When we got on stage in the evening, he really let it all out didn’t he? He made it his own.”
However, prior to that, he was all for trying to embarrass Gilmour in a series of backstage shenanigans. “I’d say I’m a big Pink Floyd fan. The first time I saw them, my parents dragged me along when I was six or seven,” Bowie begins as Gilmour enters the room behind him. To which Gilmour protests, “six or seven? I think not!” In truth, Bowie was born in 1947, so even in the earliest Roger Waters and Nick Mason incarnation of Sigma 6 in 1963/4 he would’ve at least been 16.
Aside from obvious attempts to embarrass Gilmour on camera, there is more than a hint of sincerity when he declares, “So, really, I have to blame my parents for this great love I’ve got of the Floyd.” Whilst there is no knowing whether it was actually his parents who got him into Pink Floyd, the declaration of “a great love” is evidently kosher.
Still hung up on the age factor Gilmour somehow glosses over this compliment and once more adds, “I still think he’s exaggerating the age a little bit!” All in all, it is a charming exchange that sees two creators who have evidently inspired each other happily basking in pre-show excitement without even a flicker of trepidation.
You can catch the clip and performance, below.