"When David Bowie walked into the room, it was like the messiah walked in." Drum legend Steve DiStanislao recalls the night that David Bowie performed a Syd Barrett classic with Pink Floyd's David Gilmour and Richard Wright

Steve DiStanislao, David Bowie and David Gilmour
(Image credit: Brian Rasic/Getty Images, Brian Rasic/Getty Images)

Veteran drummer Steve DiStanislao has recalled the night he performed a Syd Barrett classic alongside David Bowie and Pink Floyd members David Gilmour and Richard Wright.

In a new interview with Rolling Stone, DiStanislao, touring drummer for a number of rock greats, including David Crosby, shared his memory of being invited to play on David Gilmour's On An Island tour. 

Explaining how he got the gig, he recalls: "I was playing with Crosby/Nash at the Royal Festival Hall in London, and we had a really, really good show that night. 

"David Gilmour was there, and so was [Led Zeppelin bassist] John Paul Jones, but I didn’t know until we were backstage after the gig. I met David backstage, he was real nice, and then that was it."

The drummer continues: "Then I was on tour with Loggins and Messina and Crosby calls me up, he goes, 'David Gilmour is trying to get ahold of you.' I’m like, What? Come on. I got ahold of David and he asked me if I was interested in playing and doing his tour."

Accepting the proposition without even having to audition, DiStanislao hit the road for Gilmour's 2006 tour supporting his first solo album in 22 years, On An Island, which became his first UK number one outside of Pink Floyd.

To close the trek, Gilmour arranged a three-night stand at London's Royal Albert Hall, lining up a handful of special guests to join him onstage, among them David Crosby and Graham Nash, Robert Wyatt, his Pink Floyd brethren Nick Mason and long-time Floyd fan David Bowie.

On the opening night of the three-show stint on May 29, Bowie joined Gilmour and co. for the encore, performing Floyd's 1967 debut single Arnold Layne and 1979's The Wall classic Comfortably Numb.

Fondly looking back on the occasion, DiStanislao recalls: "It was one of the last times he [Bowie] played in public. Oh, my gosh. I just remember the air getting sucked out of the room when he walked in. 

"We have David and Graham, David Gilmour… Robert Wyatt was there that day, and all these heavies. And when David Bowie walked into the room, it was like the messiah walked in. It was surreal, and we were all giddy."

The drummer adds: "He was real sweet and he did a great job. When he opened his mouth and started singing, 'Hello, is there anybody in there…' it was like, Wow, there it is. Here’s that voice.”

When Rolling Stone writer Andy Greene recalls bassist Guy Pratt telling him that Richard Wright, who had been singing that intro all tour, was somewhat reluctant to hand over his part to Bowie, DiStanislao replies, "Oh, that’s right. He was like, 'Well, wait a minute. That’s mine.' It was kind of funny."

Watch the performance below:

Liz Scarlett

Liz works on keeping the Louder sites up to date with the latest news from the world of rock and metal. Prior to joining Louder as a full time staff writer, she completed a Diploma with the National Council for the Training of Journalists and received a First Class Honours Degree in Popular Music Journalism. She enjoys writing about anything from neo-glam rock to stoner, doom and progressive metal, and loves celebrating women in music.