Back in the summer of 2002, David Gilmour made an under the radar appearance when he was invited to perform at a Beatles tribute concert in Sussex. The event was raising money in aid of the Tibet House Trust and a host of other charities to boot. The former Pink Floyd man and fabled guitarist, who held the fundraising effort close to his heart and mind, took to the stage to cover two of his favourite tracks by The Fab Four—and with devastating effect.
The event took place on June 21st, 2002, at the Cowdray House in West Sussex, where the illustrious guitarist David Gilmour appeared in a star-studded line-up alongside other legends of the game. The list of mega-watt musicians included a Beatles in the form of Ringo Starr, Genesis guitarist Mike Rutherford, Queen drummer Roger Taylor, the unforgettable Bob Geldof, ’60s icons Donovan and Lulu, plus Paul Carrack, Faces drummer Kenny Jones, and was hosted by British legend Chris Tarrant. It really was quite some event.
Gilmour’s decision to take part should come as no surprise as he is frequently noted as an active philanthropist when it is for a cause he believes in, and this certainly was one. Also, the Pink Floyd guitarist has been open about his love of The Beatles and how they kickstarted his musical journey. The former Floyd member told MOJO in 2015: “I really wish I had been in The Beatles,” Gilmour shares, “[They] taught me how to play the guitar, I learnt everything. The bass parts, the lead, the rhythm, everything. They were fantastic.”
The pioneer is still that same young Beatles fan that first picked up an instrument all those years ago at heart and, notably, gave this vintage quote in Record Collector some years ago: “I’m a kid, really. You get into Studio Two at Abbey Road, you’re sitting there with Paul McCartney and your guitar is plugged in,” he said while talking about his and Macca’s work together in later years, perfectly embodying the spirit of a true music fan who has snuck their way into the main room.
“You think that’s an ordinary day’s work, but of course, it isn’t—it’s magical!” Gilmour has worked with McCartney on a few occasions including one special night in Liverpool, “Managing to persuade him to sing ‘I Saw Her Standing There’ at The Cavern, with me doing the John Lennon parts, was absolutely fantastic. I’ve been in The Who, I’ve been in The Beatles and I’ve been in Pink Floyd! Top that, mother****er!”
Gilmour is referring to when in 1999 he took on guitar duties when McCartney recorded Run Devil Run, an album of mostly 1950s covers with a few originals thrown in for good measure. To promote the release, McCartney, Gilmour and most of the Run Devil Run band appeared at Liverpool’s famous Cavern Club—the place where John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr had made their name.
This was a pinch yourself moment for Gilmour even though he has been in one of the most important bands of all time himself and had an astounding influence on music in his own right. It proves that underneath it all, we’re all just silly fans too.
Gilmour’s covers of ‘Across The Universe’ and ‘Revolution’ from The Beatles tribute concert were not professionally filmed as it was never aired on television however, thankfully someone in the audience was wise enough to realise they needed to document the history they were witnessing before their own eyes and it is available for us to enjoy in all of it’s magnificence.
Watch his glorious set, below.