Thursday, 20 April 2017

RIP - Allan Holdsworth

It's been ages since I've posted on here.  Apologies.  Life seems to be just flying by so fast.

It is therefore with great sadness that I have to post first on here for ages about the passing of one of the finest guitarists of the last 40 years or so.  Allan Holdsworth passed away recently aged 70.

Now for many Allan will not be a name that is known but some years back if asked that question as a guitarist myself of "Who is the best guitarist?"  well... Allan would be one of the first names off my tongue in a very short list... with Jeff Beck in there too.

Allan was simply a genius.  I first heard of him through various guitar magazines and then in the briefly lived but incredible supergroup U.K. which was himself, Bill Bruford (Yes, King Crimson etc.) John Wetton (Uriah Heep, Wishbone Ash, Roxy Music and after U.K. of course massively successful in Asia) and Eddie Jobson (Yes, Curved Air, Roxy Music etc.).   They produced one incredible album with that line up and then Bruford and Holdsworth were off.  However that really got my interest.  In 1982ish I built a Strat with two humbuckers in it - inspired by what Holdsworth was using at the time.

Note some similaries...   When I built mine I had cream Dimarzio PAFs in it too... !

The first solo album of his I bought was Sand.  Here he was the focus the jazz genius his flowing lines and complex chords to the fore.  Simply you couldn't follow what the hell he did - to me he is the Miles Davis of the guitar frankly just going - Oh yeah and it'll do this too if you're good enough.

Other solo albums of note are Secrets and Heavy Metal Fatigue which if you want to find out about him I'd recommend.  But note to the jazzaphobes esp Secrets is very jazz.

Briefly he almost came to the publics greater attention.  At the end of Level 42's great success he joined the British Jazz/Pop/Funk group replacing the sadly too early departed Alan Murphy who'd succumed to complications from AIDS.  He recorded much of the album Guaranteed with the band before moving on, even before the cover photos were done and he was replaced by Jakko Jakszyk (laterly of King Crimson).

Whilst not as commercial as thier other albums Gary Husband and Allan joining gave the album some of, in my view, Level 42's best tracks.

So to remember Allan by here are three tracks.

First from Level42 - just listen to the solo - brilliant!

Secondly from Secrets possibly my favourite ever track by him - Joshua. Just the intro of the guitar takes my breath away.

Finally for a laugh - just watch this! the finger gymnastics on the chords!  And the solo - yes well let's not go there!

 RIP Allan - you'll be sadly missed.


  1. I saw him when U.K. toured in the U.S. He reminded me a little of Jeff Beck. Lots of bent notes that didn't sound quite right where he placed them but, of course, were perfect.

    1. I think at one point he was obsessed with the transtrem - it's what led him to use headless guitars via Steinberger I think at the time.

      Anyway I remember reading this long piece in a magazine before the days of useful youtube videos where he tried to explain setting it up to get exact steps of notes available and how to use that in a piece.