Posted by: Kirsty | January 9, 2009

The Black Strat – Phil Taylor (2007)

Here’s another post copied from my old blog, in a bid to retain a few of my favourite/the most popular posts from the last incarnation.

A guest post today on Other Stories. Boyfriend isn’t a big fan of fiction – something to do with an inability to suspend his disbelief and forget that “it’s all just made up” – but give him a book about guitars and he’s a happy chap. Today, then, I am posting his review of The Black Strat: A History of David Gilmour’s Black Fender Stratocaster by Phil Taylor.

The Fender Stratocaster is probably the most famous and popular electric guitar in the world and there have been many notable examples in the history of rock music; George Harrison’s psychedelically painted one from The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper/Magical Mystery Tour era, the white one that Jimi Hendrix played at Woodstock, Rory Gallagher’s one that had almost all the paint worn off and, perhaps most famous of all, Eric Clapton’s ‘Brownie’ and ‘Blackie’ which fetched around $500,000 and $1,000,000 respectively when they were sold at auction in recent years.

blackstratPerhaps less famous, but no less notable, is the black guitar that Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour has played on and off since 1970 and which is the subject of Phil Taylor’s book. Taylor has been Gilmour’s guitar tech since 1974 and has restrung, tuned and handed this guitar to Gilmour on countless occasions at concerts and in studio sessions since then. This guitar was played on Floyd albums ‘Meddle’ ‘Dark Side of the Moon’, ‘Wish You Were Here’, ‘Animals’, ‘The Wall’ and ‘The Final Cut’ and during that time it went through several changes of neck, pickups, scratchplate and vibrato bridge. The only original parts still remaining are the body and two of the pickups.

Gilmour retired the guitar in 1984, just after the tour to promote his second solo album, ‘About Face’ and just before he played as part of Bryan Ferry’s band at Live Aid in 1985. In 1986 the guitar was loaned to the Hard Rock Café in Dallas, Texas where it remained for the next eleven years until Taylor requested it back on Gilmour’s behalf. It was restored to playing condition and was eventually seen again in Gilmour’s hands, with yet another neck, in the Classic Albums TV show about the making of ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ in 2003, the album’s 30th anniversary.

The guitar was next seen at the momentous and emotional reunion of Pink Floyd’s classic lineup of Gilmour, Richard Wright, Nick Mason and their long estranged bass player and principal lyricist Roger Waters at 2005’s Live 8 concert and Gilmour continued to use it (with another neck!) for the recording of his 2006 On an Island album and the subsequent tour.

Taylor’s book is a dream for guitar geeks with loads of detailed pictures of the guitar (and some others from Gilmour’s collection) from every conceivable angle. It’s also oddly moving to read about a musician being so attached to one instrument for so long, even after lengthy periods of playing other guitars and, as a Pink Floyd fan, it was nice to see the best parts of their career nicely bookended (Live 8 almost certainly marked the end of the band) with Gilmour playing the same guitar. Well, almost the same!

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Responses

  1. I know nothing about guitars but enjoyed this post – thank you! I think we all should include more non-fiction; we’re a bit story obsessed.

  2. Glad you enjoyed it Catherine.


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