On this day 50 years ago, David Gilmour joined Pink Floyd, replacing a classmate who had checked himself into a psychiatric ward. With the addition of the innovative songwriter–vocalist–guitarist, whose sound is instantly recognizable, Pink Floyd achieved international success with the concept albums Dark Side of the MoonWish You Were HereAnimals, and The Wall. One of the most critically acclaimed acts in the history of popular music, the band, by 2012, had sold over 250 million records worldwide. Now 71, the British-born Gilmour is ranked #14 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the greatest guitarists of all time. WATCH the 2005 reunion performance of Comfortably Numb, with his renown guitar solo… (1968)

In 2003, the multi-instrumentalist (plays bass, drums, keyboards, and more) sold one of his houses and donated the proceeds worth £3.6 million to help fund a housing project for the homeless. He has also contributed to animal rights, poverty, environmental, wildlife, human rights, and music therapy charities.

Fun Facts: He discovered and nurtured to a recording contract the singer-songwriter Kate Bush. He is also an aviator–pilot whose hobby was flying, buying, and selling vintage bi-planes. Most importantly, his fifth solo album since the band broke up in 1995 (not counting a reunion tour in 2012-14) will likely be released this year along with the announcement of a new tour.

MORE Good News on this Date:

  • Hindus and Hare Krishnas commemorate the day Lord Krishna left his body (3102 BC)
  • The First Academy Award winners were announced (1929)
  • Gambia became the 37th sovereign state in Africa and last of Britain’s West African colonies to gain independence (1965)
  • California’s Supreme Court struck down the state’s death penalty (1972)
  • The Space Shuttle Enterprise test vehicle went on its maiden “flight” perched atop a Boeing 747 (1977)
  • Snow fell in the Sahara Desert for the only time in recorded history (1979)
  • American speed skater Shani Davis became the first black athlete to win a gold medal in Winter Olympic history for an individual event, winning the men’s 1,000-meter in Turin (2006)

Also, on this day in 1885, Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was first published in the US. 326px-Huckleberry_Finn_book

The sequel to The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is a scathing satire on entrenched attitudes, particularly racism, and was among the first novels in major American literature to be written fully in regional vernacular English, which made it controversial, especially in the 20th century, because of its course language and use of racial slurs.

And, Happy 87th Birthday to Toni Morrison, the first African-American woman to win the Nobel Prize for Literature.Toni Morrison -publishers photo 2014

Born Chloe Wofford in Lorain, Ohio in 1931, the novelist is known for her lyrically narrated novels of black American life, including, The Bluest Eye (her first), Song of Solomon, and Beloved, which became a film and also earned her a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1988. Her latest book, “God Help the Child”,  was also recorded as an audio book with Morrison reading it herself.

toni morrison in wheelchair - FB
Morrison in 2015

She worked for years as a book editor for Random House and has been serving as Professor Emeritus at Princeton University.