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Guitarist David Gilmour Returns to Pompeii to Conjure Ghosts

David Gilmour

The year is 1972, and guitarist David Gilmour and the rock band Pink Floyd have finally emerged fully from the Syd Barrett fiasco. Barrett, the one time lead singer and co-founder, dropped out of sight and mind, and the band soldiered on with Gilmour installed as the major creative force. The band would begin to take on the look and persona it is most known for. That would start in 1972. The first remnants of what would become The Dark Side of the Moon album began to see the light of day.  The band would  release a concert film of them performing to an empty coliseum at Pompeii.

Fast forward nearly 45 years later and David Gilmour planned a return to the coliseum at Pompeii. Only this time, he played before a live audience. Rolling Stone was on hand to view the happening and discuss it with Gilmour afterwards. About the site, Gilmour noted,

“It’s an extraordinary place to be because it was preserved exactly as it was. There are many other sites. If you visit any other antiquity-type sites throughout the world, they’re very damaged with what’s gone on over the centuries since they were abandoned. But this one was just, like, sealed, so you’re looking at rock surfaces and the carving of letters and names in the stones looks like it was done yesterday.” History, it seems, is fluid.”

Roger Waters and David Gilmour in 1972 at Pompeii.
Roger Waters and David Gilmour in 1972 at Pompeii, playing before an empty stadium. Image: Pink Floyd

Ghosts of 1972

This concert not only carried the ghosts of history’s past but Gilmour’s as well hitched a ride. The ghosts of 1972 looked on as Gilmour prepared for the show and he was well aware of it. From the same article, “Adrian Maben came to us with the idea. And we just thought,

“Well, why not?” I don’t think any of us thought it would be as well received and last in people’s minds for as long as it did. All credit to him. It’s his idea and it was great.”

But, then again, for David Gilmour’s entire life, the specter of  the past has hung over him watching to see if he would slip up. It probably will be kept waiting a long time.

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