Monday, 17 April 2017

Allan Holdsworth

I said when I wrote about John Wetton that I wasn't one for marking every musician's passing, but now this...

In the late 70s Virgin Record stores published a magazine. In among advertorials for whatever they were selling that month was the occasional article that piqued my interest. One of these was on a new supergroup U.K. I was just starting on the path away from Top Of The Pops and the "previously with..." list read well. I didn't buy the record then, but a couple of years later saw Bill Bruford's band on 'Rock Goes To College', and discovered the world where Jazz met Rock. the guitarist stood out of the limelight, but something interesting was going on. At much the same time (or very close, memory may be faulty here) I bought my first guitar magazine, Beat Instrumental and read about Edward Van Halen's love of Allan Holdsworth.

So armed with 'One Of A Kind' and the first U.K. album I learnt more. The solos on 'In The Dead of Night', and  'Hells Bells' opened new views on what was possible with the electric guitar.

Sometime later BBC Radio 3 (yes 3) broadcast a session of Holdsworth's new solo band I.O.U. Recorded without the vocals of Paul Williams from the album it remains some of my favourite pieces of his playing and deserves an official release. I have followed him intermittently ever since.

'Road Games', 'Metal Fatigue', 'All Night Wrong', and 'Blues For Tony' are my favourites. If you are new to his music get the new compilation Eidolon, but be prepared to end up buying the new very suitably named 'The Man Who Changed Guitar Forever!' 12 cds of solo albums heralding new improved versions of his work.

In 1990 he joined Level 42 for a tour and part of the Guaranteed album. The only officially released live work is on a box set, the solo on Love Meeting Love is sublime.

Now too soon and suddenly he has gone. The crime that has artists of his quality leaving their family's needing Go Fund Me for funeral expenses is a subject I will come back to in a later post but for now I would suggest buying the new compilation, Bruford's One Of A Kind and reading Bill Bruford's autobiography which describes his time working with Allan Holdsworth, who comes across as someone unwilling to compromise his work, possibly a little difficult at times, but commited to his vision of the guitar and its possibilities.

Bill Bruford said on his Facebook page
With enormous sadness I write to express my condolences to Allan's family on the loss of a much-loved father and grandfather, my friend and colleague. For several years in the 1970s, through my own band and 'UK', I listened to him nightly, launching sheets of sound on an unsuspecting audience, changing perceptions about what guitars and guitarists should or could be doing, thrilling me half to death.I would have paid to be at my own gig.
Allan wasn't easy, but if it was easy it wouldn't have been Allan. Like all creative musicians he was restless and relentless in pursuit of 'the perfect sound', the one that he couldn't get out of his head, the one that would never leave him alone. Now he will be at peace. Still, my guitar gently weeps.

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