Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour Ran The Sound Desk For An Iconic Jimi Hendrix Show

One for the history books...

On the surface, David Gilmour and Jimi Hendrix are poles apart as guitarists. The Pink Floyd legend is defined by patience and control, the other by a wild sense of flamboyance – yet on a few evenings in the late 60s, their worlds became intertwined.

The Isle of Wight Festival has gone down as an iconic moment in the British counter culture, and in 1970 the colossal crowds gathered to witness an all-too-rare headline set from Jimi Hendrix. Joined by Mitch Mitchell and Billy Cox, it took place in the wee small hours, and despite some troubling technical difficulties – at one point the security radio was played over the guitarist’s amplifiers – it’s a set that has gone down in the history books.

One of the last shows Jimi Hendrix played on UK soil before his tragic death a matter of weeks later, the sound desk was helmed by David Gilmour.

“I went down [to the festival] to go to it, and I was camping in a tent, just being a punter,” Gilmour told Prog Magazine. “I went backstage where our main roadie guy, Peter Watts, was trying to deal with all the mayhem, with Charlie Watkins of [amplifier company] WEM. They were very nervous; they were going to have to mix Hendrix’s sound. I did some mixing stuff in those days, and they said, ‘Help! Help!’ So I did.”

“I had met him previous to that, once,” he told Prog.

In a different interview with MOJO, David Gilmour expanded on this:  “I saw him playing live at this club called Blaises in South Kensington. He jammed with the Brian Auger Trinity with Julie Driscoll singing…”

“This little place was packed with Beatles and Stones type of people, so you think, ‘Something’s going on.’ And this kid came in and strapped a right-handed guitar on the wrong way round. He was an absolute phenomenon from the beginning.” 

He added: “Myself, and the whole place, were with their jaws hanging open.”

Curiously, when David Gilmour was living and working in Paris he was given the job of being an unofficial tour guide for Jimi Hendrix.  “Later, I was living in Paris and one of the jobs outside of just playing with my little pop group [Jokers Wild] there was that I was employed to take him round Paris for an evening, show him a good time,” he recalls. “And he seemed very nice. Likeable, shy.” 

Need more David Gilmour in your life? His new solo album ‘Luck And Strange’ is out on September 6th.

Related: So You’ve Decided To Get Into Pink Floyd

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