He was born in Cambridge, England and grew up in Grantchester Meadows. Gilmour was educated in a Waldorf School, and for many years was a poster figure for those schools. However, he has described his education there as "horrific".
During Pink Floyd's quiet spells, he has amused himself as a session musican, producer and even concert sound engineer, for a wide variety of acts including some pseudonymous novelty releases and Roy Harper, Kate Bush, The Dream Academy, Grace Jones, Bryan Ferry, Robert Wyatt, Hawkwind, Paul McCartney, Sam Brown, Jools Holland, Propaganda, Pete Townshend, The Who, various charity "supergroups" and many more.
He is also an experienced pilot.