Did David Gilmour play half of Pink Floyd's basslines?

Roger Waters performs on stage on The Wall Tour at Gelredome in Arnhem, Netherlands, 9th April 2011.
(Image credit: Paul Bergen/Redferns)

When Pink Floyd recorded 1987’s A Momentary Lapse of Reason, it was following an acrimonious split with founding bass guitar player and songwriter Roger Waters. In Waters’ place, singer and guitarist David Gilmour drafted 20-something bassist Guy Pratt, who, at that time, was best known for playing with David Bowie and Robert Palmer.

In a new interview with Rolling Stone, Pratt, who went on to fill the bass slot on every subsequent Floyd album and tour, as well as for the majority of Gilmour’s solo work, details his audition for Floyd – which, amazingly, did not include him actually playing the bass.

As he recalls, “Singing Run Like Hell was my audition. I actually turned up after a really big night. I was in terrible shape and was like, ‘I’ve fuckin’ blown it.’ But it was actually because I was so battered that I sang it fantastically. If I was rested, I’d probably have been way too self-conscious.

“David asked me to go back for a second audition and he was like, ‘Okay, sing it again.’ I was like, ‘Why? I’ve done it once.’ Even though I was terrified, I was coming off as cocky. David was like, ‘Fuck this guy. I’ll risk him.'

He continued, "I never actually played bass at the auditions. All I did was sing Run Like Hell. I don’t know what that says about what David thinks about the complexity of Pink Floyd bass playing. He was just like, ‘I know you can play the bass.’”

Pratt went on to say that he never felt like he was replacing Waters, primarily because, according to him, Waters didn’t play much bass on Pink Floyd records.

“David played half the bass on those records and I never thought of Roger as a bass player,” Pratt said. “He was this sort of grand conceptualist.

“I used to think it was funny when people said it as a compliment, ‘You’re as good a bass player as Roger Waters.’ It was like, ‘Well, thanks. I think I’d rather write The Wall.'"

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Richard Bienstock

Rich is the co-author of the best-selling Nöthin' But a Good Time: The Uncensored History of the '80s Hard Rock Explosion. He is also a recording and performing musician, and a former editor of Guitar World magazine and executive editor of Guitar Aficionado magazine. He has authored several additional books, among them Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, the companion to the documentary of the same name.