Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Pat Metheny

Guitarist Pat Metheny has managed to successfully walk the line between innovation and broad-based appeal more than three decades. His accessible jazz albums have earned him and his Pat Metheny Group some 16 Grammy awards (out of 29 nominations), more than any other jazz musician. Not easily classifiable, his music reflects a mellow-sounding experimental journey into the worlds of jazz fusion, folk, rock, new age, and pop. First attaining popularity in the 1980s, he is credited with helping to popularize jazz among baby boomers raised on pop and rock music.

Metheny was born Patrick Bruce Metheny on August 12, 1954, in Lee's Summit, Missouri. Faced with the slow-paced, small-town life and scarce access to television, Metheny and his family found entertainment in music. Following in the steps of his older brother, a trumpet player, Metheny by age eight was learning to play the trumpet, and as a result learning to read and write music. His interest in pop groups like the Beatles and the Beach Boys, was soon overshadowed by early and immediate interest in jazz music. He quickly delved into the world of jazz, quickly learning pieces by greats like Miles Davis and Ornette Coleman, all without a formal music teacher. He received his first guitar at age ten, and by the age of twelve he would abandon the trumpet for what would become his trademark instrument. Metheny soon found his calling playing with Kansas City jazz musicians. Such was his local fame that, when Herbie Hancock came to town, he reportedly sought out the 16-year-old Metheny to jam with him.

Upon graduating from Kansas City High School in 1972, Metheny went on to attend the University of Miami. Just as student and social obligations had taken a backseat to music in high school, Metheny's dedication to music led him to drop out of university's student body to form part of its faculty. At the age of 18, he was teaching electric guitar at the school. In 1974, he was invited to teach music at Boston's Berklee College of Music (which would award him an honorary doctorate degree in music in 1996). While brief, Metheny's stay at the University of Miami allowed him to meet jazzman Jaco Pastorius, who would go on to be a fundamental force in his early years as a musician. It was with Pastorius, along with jazz pianist Paul Bley, who joined Metheny to recording a 1974 album that would be Metheny's first.

1974 was the year of Metheny's big break into the world jazz scene. From 1974 to 1977, he lent his playing style to the band of vibraphone artist Gary Burton. According to Metheny's website biography, this style entails blending "the loose and flexible articulation customarily reserved for horn players with an advanced rhythmic and harmonic sensibility—a way of playing and improvising that was modern in conception but grounded deeply in the jazz tradition of melody, swing, and the blues." Following the recording of Ring, recorded with Burton and Eberhard Weber, Metheny released his first solo album. With the release of Bright Size Life in 1975, Metheny is credited with reinventing jazz guitar for a new generation. That album marked the beginning of a ten-year relationship with the ECM record label, for which Metheny played to sold-out crowds as the company's top act.

In 1978, Metheny founded the Pat Metheny Group, drawing on the talent of drummer Dan Gottlieb, bassist Mark Egan, and Lyle Mays (the keyboardist he met during his days with Burton). Time referred to the group as a "long-lived fusion quartet whose richly textured, Brazilian flavored albums, with their smooth synthesized surfaces, appeal to listeners for whom jazz is normally a four-letter word."

"If you look at the group's history, right from the beginning we've always been after ways of trying to look at form from different angles," Metheny told the Washington Post. "The whole mission of the band was to explore what a jazz group can be in the modern era that it hasn't been before. And there are some real obvious things that we do that set us apart, starting with the amount of electricity involved to the actual sound of the band and the kinds of things that we've addressed, but underneath the hood of all of it from the beginning has been this thing of really messing with form and trying to write things that were not just tunes."

While the group would evolve over the years, the collaborative relationship with Mays would mark Metheny's career for more than two decades. Metheny's collaborations with a wide array of jazz and non-jazz artists would also mark his career. Ornette Coleman, Steve Reich, Herbie Hancock, Sonny Rollins, and David Bowie were just a few of the artists to play with Metheny. Despite major success with ECM, Metheny left the label for Geffen in 1985 and set up Pat Metheny Productions, which leases its musical creations.

"I never wanted the headache of actually administering a label," Metheny told Daily Variety. "But I wanted the freedom to do things my way. As long as you can keep an audience intrigued and maintain a level of curiosity about the records, you're keeping up your end of the bargain. We've never compromised—and we've gotten away with it."

For nearly three decades, Metheny went beyond the role of "jazz guitarist" to compose a wide variety of compositions, ranging from rock to jazz to classical and ballet pieces. These included pieces for everything from solo guitar and small ensembles to large orchestras, using both acoustic and electric instruments. "Jazz is the all-inclusive form," he told Time in 2000. "There's room for everybody, for anything of true musical substance. Jazz guys like Duke Ellington or Miles Davis have always transformed the elements of the pop culture that surrounds us into something more sophisticated and hipper. It's their job."

The artist was an early proponent of electronic music, claiming to be among the first jazz artists to take the synthesizer seriously and to use the Synclavier for composing songs. Moving from his original Gibson ES-140T guitar, Metheny's sound evolved with his input into the creation of the 42-string Pikass guitar, the Ibanez PM-100 jazz guitar and the soprano acoustic guitar, as well as many other instruments (such as the sitar guitar). Always one to push his own style in new directions, Metheny broke with his reputation for having a developed sense of melody with the 1994 release of Zero Tolerance for Silence, which some denounced as noisy feedback but which Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth, reportedly called "the most radical recording of this decade … a new milestone in electric guitar."

Thirty years after he began touring in 1974, Metheny continued to tour, performing between 120-240 shows annually. He also managed to keep a loyal fan base, consistently winning new musical awards. At the 2004 Grammy Awards, Metheny was awarded Best New Age Album for One Quiet Night, making him the artist with the most Grammy awards in different categories. The Pat Metheny Group's 2005 release The Way Up, led the Chicago Tribune to predict a potential "career turning point for its creators. The single 68-minute opus was composed of "four interlocking movements" joined together by "recurring melodic motifs" in an approach that used technology to "manipulate the studio as if it were an instrument."

Selected discography
Bright Size Life, ECM, 1975.
Watercolors, ECM, 1977.
Pat Methany Group, ECM, 1978.
American Garage, ECM 1980.
80/81, ECM, 1980.
As Falls Wichita, So Falls Wichita Falls, ECM, 1980.
Song X, Geffen, 1985.
Works I, ECM, 1991.
Works II, ECM, 1991.
The Sign of 4, Knitting Factory, 1992.
Zero Tolerance for Silence, ECM, 1994.
Imaginary Day, Warner Brothers, 1997.
Trio Live, Warner Brothers, 2000.
One Quiet Night, Warner Brothers, 2003.
The Way Up, Nonesuch, 2005.


The first European musical virtuoso to influence American jazz was Django Reinhardt, a French-speaking Belgian gypsy who had only two working fingers on his left hand. He is regarded as the jazz guitar’s most dazzling soloist, most exciting improvisor, and most important innovator. Despite the fire injury at age 18 that crippled his fretting hand and challenged his very will to live, this extravagant, romantic, and illiterate genius went on to hasten the acceptance of the guitar as a popular solo instrument and to inspire musicians as varied as Yehudi Menuhin, Julian Bream, Les Paul, Barney Kessel, Chet Atkins, Joe Pass, and Carlos Santana.

Not only did Reinhardt become France’s most famous jazz performer, but during World War II he also assumed the status of national hero by refusing large sums of money to perform for the Nazi occupiers. After the war, expecting to reap some of his reputation’s benefits, he eagerly went to the United States to tour with the Duke Ellington Orchestra. Disappointed by his reception in America, he returned to France and spent

the remaining seven years of his life playing and recording with a variety of combos, fishing, playing billiards, and painting. He died unexpectedly of a stroke at the age of 43.

Born Jean Baptiste Reinhardt on January 23, 1910, this musical prodigy began his uncommon life in a gypsy roulotte (or caravan, a horse-drawn wagon) in the Belgian town of Liverchies, near the French border. A gypsy of the Manouche band, he is said to have possessed the gypsy’s wandering impulse throughout his life, joining passing caravans while on tour, going off with various questionable "cousins" for meals or drinks instead of making gigs, and never really feeling comfortable unless he lived and traveled in a wagon. According to Rich Kienzle in Great Guitarists, Reinhardt most likely inherited his musical talent from his "probable father, Jean Ve’es," who was a comic and violinist. At the age of ten, Django (a gypsy dialect name meaning John, alternatively spelled "Jiango," or "Djengo," as on his gravestone) was given a banjo-guitar, which he practiced obsessively, becoming good enough by age 13 to perform as a sideman in low-level Parisian dance halls. Thereafter he was also playing violin and banjo, and within a few years he had recorded with a singer named Chabel.

Sustained Serious Injuries in Caravan Fire
Reinhardt reportedly first heard American-style jazz in 1925 or 1926, and soon he had garnered such local attention that he was playing with the accordionist-bandleader Maurice Alexander in the Belleville section of Paris. In his 1961 biography Django Reinhardt, author Charles Delaunay indicated that by 1928 Reinhardt had been signed by English bandleader Jack Hylton to appear in London with his orchestra. Before he could meet that obligation, however, a disastrous fire struck the caravan in which he and his wife were living, leaving him seriously injured and threatening an end to his musical career.

Most of the accounts of this terrible accident follow Delaunay’s description, but some sources differ in their description of Reinhardt’s resulting physical impairments: Was it his left or right leg that a doctor wanted to amputate? Or was it his left arm below the elbow? Were his "two middle fingers seared together," as George Hoefer related in Down Beat, or is Art Wrightman’s account, as told to Down Beat interviewer Dennis Hensley, more accurate? "His leg mended well enough for him to walk without a limp," Wrightman was quoted as saying, "but his left hand was extremely mutilated. His ring finger and pinky were permanently hooked, his skin was scarred, and his hand muscles were distorted." In any case, Reinhardt spent the next two years in relentless and courageous self-conducted therapy, and he taught himself a compensatory technique that allowed him once again to play the guitar. As Wrightman related: "Eventually, he was able to play certain ninth chords by hooking his little finger against the solo E string, but even that was rare. He was strictly a two-fingered player."

Returned to European Jazz Circuit with Famed Quintet
With his brother Joseph, Reinhardt was playing again by 1930 in front of the cafes and in the courtyards of Paris, passing the hat for money. The pair then toured the south of France, encountering artist Emile Savitry, who introduced Reinhardt to recordings by Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Joe Venuti, and American guitar player Eddie Lang. Back in Paris in late 1931, he met Stephane Grappelli, then a pianist with alto saxophonist Andre Ekyan’s band. In the same year, the University Jazz Club was established in Paris, sponsored by Hugues Panassie, one of Europe’s first jazz critics. Within a year this became the Hot Club of France. Between 1934 and 1939 the club would become world famous for presenting the Quintet of the Hot Club of France, the unique jazz group formed around Grappelli, playing the violin with elegance, and rough-hewn guitarist Reinhardt.

The mid-1930s saw the phenomenal growth of the quintet’s quality and renown—and also of Reinhardt’s individual artistry as both player and songwriter. During these pre-World War II years, the unlikely string quintet recorded swinging renditions of American pop and jazz standards like "Dinah," "Tiger Rag," "Lady Be Good," "Stardust," "St. Louis Blues," and dozens of others well known to traditional jazz and swing aficionados. But Reinhardt also showed creative genius and sensitivity to his mixed European roots in original compositions, some in collaboration with Grappelli, such as "Djangology," "Minor Swing," "Bricktop," "Swing 39," and the international hit "Nuages." In the latter years of the quintet’s existence, he continued to compose in earnest while also recording often with several other European bands and visiting with American artists such as Benny Carter, Coleman Hawkins, Rex Stewart, Barney Bigard, and Billy Taylor. As in the United States, the years just before World War II in Europe produced a great flowering of happily popular jazz in the four-beat, swinging mode. For his efforts with this sizzling Quintet of the Hot Club of France, Django Reinhardt quickly became famous as the world’s greatest jazz guitarist.

With Grappelli electing to live in England during the war, Reinhardt kept the quintet going in Vichy, France, by adapting it to available musicians. In addition to recording with a modified quintet, Reinhardt put together a number of big bands with French musicians, and in November of 1945, he recorded four sides with Django Reinhardt and His American Swing Band, made up of so-called American GIs newly arrived in liberated Paris. At about the same time, rampant and unsubstantiated rumors of Reinhardt’s death gained such currency abroad that Down Beat actually printed an erroneous announcement that he had died. Delaunay and other writers have furnished anecdotal information about Reinhardt’s adventures in occupied France during the early 1940s, including a bungled escape attempt to Switzerland that briefly put him into German custody and another attempt to flee during which he was turned back by the Swiss immigration officials because he was neither a Negro nor a Jew.

Reinhardt first enjoyed his postwar freedom and international fame in 1946 when Duke Ellington invited him to tour the United States with his orchestra. The tour was only mildly successful, the guitarist was less than thrilled, and the American jazz critics were scarcely impressed. Within two weeks of the tour’s end, Reinhardt returned home disappointed with America, despite learning some bebop, trying out the electrically amplified guitar, and listening to Frank Sinatra.

From 1947 until 1953, Reinhardt led a somewhat reclusive life, performing irregularly, touring his cherished south of France only seldom, but recording plentifully with a revived Hot Club quintet. With three different clarinetists, and occasionally with Grappelli, these recordings were devoted predominantly to his original French-flavored songs (like "Babik," "Crepuscule," "Feerie, Artillerie Lourde"), as well as his symphony from the war years, Manoir de mes Reves. In the first two months of 1949, he and Grappelli recorded 68 numbers in Rome—a session which, because of the modern Italian rhythm section and the soloists’ brilliance, "made this far more than a trip down Memory Lane preserving prewar swing," according to Kienzle.

He continued experimenting in the bop style and with the amplified guitar (much to the discouragement of his older devotees), jammed with Dizzie Gillespie in February of 1953, and made his last commercial recording on April 8, 1953, with a progressive group consisting of vibes ("Fats" Lallemand), piano (Martial Solal), bass (Pierre Michelot), and drums (Pierre Lemarchand). After returning from a strenuous Swiss tour in mid-May, he complained of headaches and numbness in his arms. Refusing to see a doctor, he collapsed from a severe stroke and died in a Fontainebleau hospital the next day.

Achieved Legendary Status as Jazz Guitar Innovator
Reinhardt’s innovations in guitar virtuosity included devices (some now common) like double-string picking, octave melodic voicing, flamenco-like "rumbling," and fiercely percussive chordal attacks. His trademark, however, is still not so common: bursts of extended melodic runs, astoundingly executed with just two fretting fingers. American guitarist Charlie Byrd, who played with Reinhardt in Paris while serving with the U.S. Army in 1945, described this facility for "scintillating passages of single notes," concluding in Down Beat that "it would take years of concentrated study" to imitate. In the same article, Barney Kessel, who was equally influenced by Reinhardt, cites the "intensity and emotion, the real fire" of his playing. "He was one of the real originals," Kessel proclaimed, adding, "If Django had wanted to stay in the United States and learn the language, I’m convinced he would have altered the course of the music itself."

What seems to astonish jazz fans and critics about Reinhardt’s playing is its inventive range—a lyrical blend of European romanticism, classical regularity, gypsy nonchalance, and the forcefulness of jazz. Reinhardt’s ear was infallible, according to virtually every musician who played with him. He is said to have been able to detect mistakes or intonation problems in individual instruments performing a symphony. His intuitive feeling for the guitar was unconstrained, and his technique was unsurpassed. Nobody playing the acoustic jazz guitar in the 1930s and 1940s could match his "biting attack and unremitting drive" and "the utterly fearless manner in which he positively leaps into his up-tempo solos," noted Stan Britt in The Jazz Guitarists. Reinhardt is credited as the only modern jazz guitarist—in any mode, at any tempo—to have produced improvisational figures of such constantly breathtaking inventiveness.

The variety and contradictions in Reinhardt’s playing style complement the fluctuations in his personal life and behavior. He was notoriously unreliable, missing gigs or showing up hours late just because he happened to meet some old friends. At the same time, he is said to have been extremely sensitive, capable of being reduced to tears by the beauty of a piece of music or someone’s playing. Perhaps it is true that he gradually tired of the impositions placed on him by his celebrity, as claimed by his longtime friend, critic Andre Hodeir. In his book Toward Jazz, Hodeir related that Reinhardt, "only a few weeks before his death, muttered: ‘The guitar bores me.’"

Despite his premature death, Reinhardt succeeded in joining the ranks of the few indisputable giants of jazz: Armstrong, Ellington, Charlie Parker, and Art Tatum. Like them, he was a natural musician who overcame substantial obstacles to become a household name in the realm of musical artistry.

Selected discography
Django ’35-’39, GNP Crescendo Records, 1973.
Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli (recorded in 1953), Vogue, 1990.
The Quintet of the Hot Club of France (recorded 1947-49), GNP Crescendo Records, 1991.
Nuages (recorded 1947-49), Vogue, 1991.
Django Reinhardt & Le Quintet du Hot Club de France (recorded 1934-37), EPM, 1991.
Djangology, RCA.
Django Reinhardt (three volumes), Everest Records, Archive of Jazz and Folk.
First Recordings, GNP Crescendo Records.
Paris 1945, Columbia.
Parisian Swing, GNP Crescendo Records.
Django and His American Friends (French), EMI Odeon CLP.
Django: The Later Years, La Roulette.

Wes Montgomery

"Listening to [Wes Montgomery’s] solos is like teetering at the edge of a brink," composer-conductor Gunther Schuller asserted, as quoted by Jazz & Pop critic Will Smith. "His playing at its peak becomes unbearably exciting, to the point where one feels unable to muster sufficient physical endurance to outlast it." Legendary guitarist Joe Pass simply says this about Montgomery’s place in musical history: "To me, there have been only three real innovators on the guitar—Wes Montgomery, Charlie Christian, and Django Reinhardt," as cited in James Sallis’s The Guitar Players.This high praise is a testament to the ability of a man of contradictions: Montgomery was a musician who never learned to read music, and he enjoyed commercial success rarely afforded to jazz musicians during the 1960s, while suffering critical—and personal—disapproval.

Born John Leslie Montgomery on March 6, 1923, in Indianapolis, Indiana, Montgomery showed no early musical aptitude or desire. At the age of nineteen, shortly after he was married, Montgomery heard a recording of "Solo Flight" by the Benny Goodman Orchestra with Charlie Christian on guitar. The impression was such that Montgomery immediately purchased an electric guitar, an amplifier, and as many Christian recordings as he could find, listening carefully to the guitar solos and learning to play them note for note. Montgomery’s neighbors complained about the noise, however, so he abandoned the guitar pick in favor of plucking the strings with his thumb. He found the resulting sound mellow and pleasing. Later, while experimenting with different styles and approaches, he discovered the technique that would become his signature. Gary Giddins, in Riding on a Blue Note, explains: "Almost as an extension of that dulcet, singing tone, he began to work in octaves—voicing the melody line in two registers."

Within a year, Montgomery played in local clubs, imitating Christian solos. Exposed to other musicians and musical ideas, he developed his own concepts, and in 1948 was asked to join Lionel Hampton’s big band. As a sideman, Montgomery toured and recorded with this group until 1950 when, having missed his wife and children, he returned home to work as a welder for a radio parts manufacturer. However, as Rich Kienzle pointed out in Great Guitarists, "His desire to play music…was strong. His shift was from 7 A.M. to 3 P.M.; he’d rest for a while, then play at the Turf Bar from 9 P.M. to 2 A.M., moving to a second gig at another club, the Missile Room, from 2:30 A.M. to 5 A.M." Montgomery continued this pace for six years, joining the group Mastersounds, composed of his brothers Monk (on bass) and Buddy (on piano and vibraphone), in 1957. A few recordings were made by the group on the West

Coast, but they failed to attract much attention, and Montgomery returned home to play in clubs.

In 1959, Montgomery received his big break. While performing at the Missile Room, he impressed saxophonist Cannonball Adderley, who subsequently contacted Orrin Keepnews of Riverside Records. Montgomery was immediately signed and traveled to New York to record his first album, The Wes Montgomery Trio. "From the beginning of his belated ‘discovery,’ the critical reception ranged from euphoria to hyperbole," Giddins explained. "No one had ever heard a guitar sound like Wes Montgomery’s." This critical euphoria reached a fevered pitch with the release of Montgomery’s follow-up album, The Incredible Jazz Guitar of Wes Montgomery (1960). It was not just the sound that Montgomery produced, but, asSallissays, "the intensity of his music one responded to, the power and personality of it. When Wes hit a string you felt it, and it wasn’t just a note, a C sharp or a B flat, it was part of a story he was telling you." This recording won Montgomery the down beat critics’ New Star Award for 1960, and he topped the guitar category in both down beat readers’ and critics’ polls in 1961 and 1962.

For the next couple of years, Montgomery performed and toured with various groups, including his brothers, John Coltrane, Wynton Kelly’s trio, and his own trio. Kienzle remarked that "by this time Wes had gained the eminence due him in the jazz world, producing a steady, high-quality level of music regardless of the context. His flow of ideas, soulful articulation, and effortless technique confronted other influences."

But in 1964, Riverside Records went bankrupt (following the death of president Bill Grauer), and Montgomery signed with Verve Records, headed by Creed Taylor. This move precipitated Montgomery’s fall from grace with the jazz world and concurrent rise in the popular music world. Giddins explains: "Creed Taylor realized something about Montgomery’s talent: it was octave technique and lyric sound, not his audaciously legato eighth-note improvisations with their dramatic architectural designs, that appealed to middle-of-the-road ears. So he set Montgomery on a course of decreasing improvisation and increasingly busy over-dubbed arrangements, while the octaves, once used so judiciously, became the focus of his new ‘style.’" Montgomery’s 1965 release, Goin’ Out of My Head, was a huge popular success, went gold, and earned him a Grammy award as the best instrumental jazz performance of the year.

Commercial success continued to escalate with subsequent albums on the Verve label, and in 1967, after having moved with Taylor to A&M Records, Montgomery recorded A Day in the Life.The title track not only became a popular hit, but the album became the best-selling jazz album of 1967 and one of the best-selling jazz albums of all time.

Remaking pop hits with a jazz feel increased his audience, but decreased his acclaim in jazz circles. Adrian Ingram, in an article for Jazz Journal International, noted that "hard core jazz fans began to desert him, complaining bitterly of over-orchestrated arrangements, sub-standard material (pop tunes) and constricted solo space." Sallis offered an explanation for his decline: "He was a victim of his own popularity, or of the trivialization of his talent, depending on how you perceive it, and as a result that talent went largely unheard for the last years of his life."

Montgomery was aware of the growing dissatisfaction in the jazz community with his supposed commercialization, and he tried to make a distinction between his earlier work and his more popular work. "There is a jazz concept to what I’m doing, but I’m playing popular music and it should be regarded as such," Montgomery said, as quoted by Giddins. His approach to music had always been one of feeling rather than one of technique. His inability to read music led to his development of a fine ear; he heard music rather than saw it on a page. And this was most important in his relation with his audience. "Wes believed that the music should be communicated, that the audience was part of the band, and the feeling of the music was more important to him than playing every note correctly," Jimmy Stewart wrote in Guitar Player.Regardless of the style of, or the audience for, the music, Montgomery played with feeling and conviction. Of Road Song, his last recording for A&M before his death, down beat’s Pete Welding said, "He couldn’t play uninterestingly if he wanted to. Time and time again throughout this collection his supple sense of rhythm, his choice and placement of notes, his touch and tone raise what might have been in lesser hands merely mundane to the plane of something special, distinctive, masterful."

Even with his quoted defense of playing popular music, Montgomery, as Ingram noted, "began to feel trapped by both the music business in general and non-jazz audiences who would tolerate only note perfect renditions of the most popular tunes from his Verve albums."

Montgomery longed to return to the playing of his earlier style. This was no more evident than when he performed live. A month before Montgomery’s death, Giddins saw him perform and described what he heard: "Surrounded by four rhythm players, his regular group, he immediately shot off a single chorus of ‘Goin’,’ and followed it with the most fiery, exquisite set of guitar music I’ve ever heard….Clearly, he had compromised only on disc and would eventually be recorded more seriously." Unfortunately, this did not occur. At the peak of his career, Montgomery suffered a fatal heart attack in his hometown on June 15, 1968.

"While Montgomery’s place in jazz history was earned through his early recordings—his jazz recordings— his talent was encompassing enough to enable him to take on the requirements of ‘commercial’ music and execute it with utter elan, unerring taste, musicianship, and true distinction," Welding wrote. In a review for down beat of a posthumous release, Don DeMicheal offered this statement on Montgomery’s lasting ability: "Montgomery could do no wrong when his muse was hot upon him, and it often led him to try and accomplish things that few others could even conceive." But it is perhaps this quote from Ingram that succinctly defines the achievements and losses of Montgomery: "Even when he was immersed in blatantly commercial surroundings, Montgomery never lost his ability to create sophisticated, tasteful jazz. He could turn tap water into vintage wine, though it is sad he was forced to do so, so often."

Selected discography
Finger Pickin’, Pacific Jazz, 1957.
Montgomery land, Pacific Jazz, 1958–59.
The Montgomery Trio, Riverside, 1959.
The Incredible Jazz Guitar of Wes Montgomery, Riverside, 1960.
Movin’ Along, Riverside, 1960.
So Much Guitar!, Riverside, 1961.
Full House, Riverside, 1962.
Fusion, Riverside, 1963.
Boss Guitar, Riverside, 1963.
Movin’ Wes, Verve, 1964.
Bumpin’, Verve, 1964.
Goin’ Out of My Head, Verve, 1965.
Smokin’ at the Half Note, Verve, 1965.
Tequila, Verve, 1966.
California Dreaming, Verve, 1966.
A Day in the Life, A&M, 1967.
Down Here on the Ground, A&M, 1967.
Road Song, A&M, 1968.
Willow, Weep for Me, Verve, 1969.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Jennifer Batten

The buzz on Jennifer Batten rose from the guitar underground, and the guitar magazines promptly began chronicling her savvy musicianship and highly original approach to the electric guitar in print.

At one point Batten was in 6 different bands, playing everything from straight ahead rock, to metal,fusion, and funk. A major turning point came when she was selected from over one hundred guitarists to play in Michael Jackson's highly skilled band which toured the world for one and a half years playing for over four and a half million people. Jennifer wasted no time after the” Bad” Tour's grand finale, diving into work on her own album with renown producer (and Stevie Wonder guitarist) Michael Sembello. The stunning results can be heard on “Above, Below, and Beyond”, the title appropriately describing the interesting diversity within. With this debut release, the world at large learned what all the excitement was about.

Shortly after the record's release in the spring of '92, she was asked again to join Michael Jackson for his upcoming "Dangerous Tour". In January '93, she joined Jackson to partake in Superbowl XXVII's half time entertainment which aired to one and half billion people in 80 nations. It was the largest audience in television history.

She completed her second solo record "Jennifer Batten's Tribal Rage~Momentum," just before she was again asked to join Michael Jackson for his 2 year world tour supporting his double album "HIStory" in 1997.

Jennifer's Tribal Rage project took a much different direction than her first record and is heavily influenced by world music. It is a hybrid of rock and very exotic sounds, including African percussion, Australian didgeridoo, Caribbean steel drums and Scottish bag pipes.

In the spring of 98 Jeff Beck asked Jennifer to join his band. They joined forces for 3 years on the CD’s "Who Else", and “You Had It Coming” which were both supported by world tours.

Other guest appearances include CD's with Carmine Appice, Michael Sembello, Carl Anderson, Carina Alfie and several rock tributes.

Jennifer has authored two music books and has just released her third solo CD/DVD entitled “Whatever”. With this 3rd effort, she’s ventured into electronica, vocal samples, and film. She’s supporting this release with a multimedia one woman show, playing guitar in synch with films projected onto a giant screen. The companion DVD includes over 90 min of art films, previously unreleased music videos, interviews, commentary, and an innovative guitar lesson.

Brendt Allman

Personal life

Brendt currently lives in Doylestown, PA with his wife Tonya. He enjoys graphic arts, photography, guns, scotch, video games, and a variety of music.[1]


Early Years

Brendt began playing the guitar in 1982, at the age of 12. By 1986, he was teaching guitar, as well as playing in local cover bands in Dallas. He also learned to play the piano so he could apply his musical knowledge to composing for piano and keyboards.

Shadow Gallery

At age 20, he joined the band Sorcerer with Carl Cadden-James, Mike Baker, Ron Evans, and Chris Ingles. Covering many songs that most bands wouldn't attempt, they proved their musicianship, flawlessly playing tribute to a variety of Yngwie Malmsteen songs, some of the more difficult Rush tunes, and a collection of many favorite classic rock songs. Brendt and band member Carl Cadden-James decided they wanted to create more original tunes, so they set out to work on a piece called "The Queen of the City of Ice" which showcased a long, involved more progressive direction.

The band changed their name to Shadow Gallery and put together an 8-track demo of material, recorded in Cadden-James' basement. The demo was well received by Magna Carta, an independent progressive rock label, who officially signed the band August 23, 1991.[2]

Brendt is noted as a founding member, guitarist, and songwriter for Shadow Gallery. Shadow Gallery has released seven albums worldwide through Magna Carta Records (until 2003) and Inside Out. The band has been noted as one of the most important and innovative progressive metal bands to come out in the last decade.[3]

“Shadow Gallery is a band with an extremely loyal fanbase, an irrefutable integrity, and a unique sound that will doubtlessly guarantee its continued existence for years to come.” [4]

Other projects

At age 26, Brendt played with Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater) and Billy Sheehan (David Lee Roth band / Mr. Big) and various other artists on the Rush Tribute album: Working Man. He was also a composer on the James LaBrie solo album, MullMuzzler: ‘’Keep It To Yourself’’, contributing three tracks.[1]

Always a fan of jazz music, Brendt is currently writing an album of Jazz Fusion for eventual release, while continuously remaining a principle songwriter for Shadow Gallery.[1]


Brendt's early influences include Stevie Ray Vaughn, Albert King and Angus Young, but Yngwie Malmsteen's “Rising Force” changed his life. Other guitarist influences are Randy Rhodes, Vinnie Moore, Al Di Meola and Jason Becker. Heavy metal also dominated his early years with Metallica and Iron Maiden being a big influence. He also dabbled with progressive rock, listening to Kansas, Yes, Genesis, etc. and was raised in a household where Gershwin and Mozart were loved.[1]


With Shadow Gallery

“Shadow Gallery” (1992)
Carved in Stone (1995)
Tyranny (1998)
Legacy (2001)
Room V (2005)
Prime Cuts (2007)
Digital Ghosts (2009)
As a Composer

James Labrie’s MullMuzzler - Keep It to Yourself (1999)
As a guest musician

Working Man - Rush Tribute (1996)
The Moon Revisited -Pink Floyd Tribute (1995)
Tales From Yesterday – Yes Tribute(1995)
Supper's Ready - Genesis Tribute 1995)
Helena and Maria – “Serene” (2006)

Kiko Loureiro

In March 2007 Kiko Loureiro was voted “Best Guitarist” by respected Japanese music publication BURRN. Quite an achievement for a guitarist from Brasil whose meteoric career has spawned numerous studio and live albums with ANGRA, as well as solo albums “No Gravity” and “Universo Inverso”.

Beginning his musical studies at age eleven, Kiko has never stopped evolving both as a musician and as a composer. Today, at age 34, he is in the enviable position of being respected, well-known and influential worldwide.

Kiko was just 19 years old when he was invited to join the newly-formed ANGRA. Before then he studied with Mozart Mello and played with various local groups in his hometown of Sao Paulo, Brazil. Kiko's solo career has developped parallel to that of Angra.

In March 1993 Kiko filmed his first instructional video. Shortly thereafter he travelled to Germany to record Angra's debut album “Angels Cry”. The album's overwhelming success opened many new markets to the band, such as Europe and Japan.

Two years later the band recorded “Holy Land”, again in Germany, with production handled by Charlie Bauerfeind and Sascha Paeth. This record strenghthened the band's position as a leading melodic heavy metal act on the world music scene.

Prior to the 1998 release of Angra's third studio opus “Fireworks”, they issued two Eps “Freedom Call” and “Holy Live” the latter recorded in Paris, France. “Fireworks” was recorded at major UK studios Abbey Road and Power House, and produced by Chris Tsangarides. Its concept was different from their previous work, it was more focused on their heavy metal roots.

In October 2001 Angra presented their new line-up and new album “Rebirth” to the world. Again recorded in Germany, but this time produced by Dennis Ward, the album's title was self-explanatory! Both the record and the new line-up's live work received unanimous worldwide acclaim. Following the success of “Rebirth” both Angra, the band, and Kiko, the guitarist, garnered many rewards from numerous Brazilian and Japanese publications. In the same year Kiko released another instructional video, this one his first of many on DVD for Japanese publication Young Guitar.

In May 2002 a “Rebirth” songbook was published, the first hard rock publication of its genre in Brasil! It has since been distributed around the world.

The mini-album “Hunters and Prey”, once again produced by Dennis Ward, was issued around the same time. It included eight songs and a multimedia track. During the supporting tour Angra performed a major tour in Asia.

2003 saw the worldwide release of “Rebirth World Tour – Live in Sao Paulo” DVD and double CD.

At the same time Kiko released two more instructional DVDs “Técnica e Versatilidade” and “Os Melhores Riffs e Solos do Angra”. Both videos show the guitarist at his best, in a clear and easy-to-learn way, with many tips and advice to enrich the musical repertoire of any guitarist.

September 2004 saw the release of Angra's highly-anticipated concept work “Temple of Shadows”. The musicians are at their technical and creative best. Once again produced by Dennis Ward, the album features Brazilian musician/composer Milton Nascimento on the track “Late Redemption”.

During his live work with ANGRA Kiko always found time to highlight his musicianship by giving guitar clinics or workshops around the world. His debut solo album “No Gravity” was recorded in Germany, once again produced by Dennis Ward. Kiko plays all instruments on the thirteen instrumental tracks except drums, handled by Mike Terrana. “No Gravity” had a worldwide release in 2005. Both a “No Gravity” songbook and a playback CD were also issued and are highly sought-after by musicians and fans alike.

Kiko's talent is increasingly recognized around the world and companies such as Tagima guitars, ESP guitars, Laney amps, Sparflex cables, D'Addario strings, Zoom effects, Morley wah and Seymour Duncan pickups have associated their name to his and also released signature models under Kiko’s specifications.

Kiko has also featured on the cover of music publications from South America to Japan to Europe, too numerous to mention!

2006 saw the almost simultaneous release of Angra's latest opus “Aurora Consurgens”, yet another concept album, and Kiko's solo work “Universo Inverso”. This second solo album took an entirely different direction from the first one. Kiko is joined by three respected Brasilian and Cuban musicians for an innovative ten tracks of Latin Jazz instrumental music. Whereas this new direction may have surprised some of Angra's and Kiko's diehard metal fans, it has received positive critical acclaim worldwide and only serves to consolidate his musical ability and creative versatility!
In 2009 Kiko released his acclaimed third solo album. Released all around the world, “Fullblast” features Mike Terrana on drums and Felipe Andreoli on bass. At the same period Angra and Sepultura did a Brazilian Metal celebration tour in many different Brazilian Cities.

In 2010 Rock House, the leader in music instruction, announced the release of a new 2-set instructional DVD Creative Fusion, Beyond Pentatonics & Power Chord featuring Brazilian guitar virtuoso.

Kiko Loureiro is currently at Norcal Studios in Sao Paulo, to record the new Angra's album.

Thomas Youngblood

Thomas Youngblood is the guitarist, founding member and one of the main creative forces behind the progressive/symphonic power metal band Kamelot from Tampa, Florida. He began playing guitar at the age of 17 and in 1991 founded Kamelot with Richard Warner. Since Warner's departure, Youngblood has shared songwriting duties mostly with vocalist Roy Khan.

Thomas' wife, Mari Youngblood, is a soprano vocalist who has made some guest appearances on more recent Kamelot albums. Together they have a daughter named Annelise, whose voice appears on the track "Soul Society" from The Black Halo.

Curtis Mayfield

Personal Information

Born Curtis Lee Mayfield on June 3, 1942, in Chicago, IL; died on December 26, 1999, in Atlanta, GA of natural causes; married three times; children: eleven.


The Impressions, lead singer and songwriter, 1958-70; Curtom Record and Publishing Co., owner, 1970-99; solo performer, 1970-99.

Life's Work

Curtis Mayfield was an early comer to the world of music. When he was barely ten years old he was already writing music, and by the time he was fifteen he was invited to join the group the Impressions, a group that would come to be known world-wide for its rhythm and blues sound found in such songs as "Gypsy Woman," the song for which the group was eventually honored with a place in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Mayfield went on to an incredibly successful solo career during which he became famous for such popular songs as "Superfly" and "Freddie's Dead." He was a political man, many of whose songs, such as "We're a Winner," "I'm So Proud," and "People Get Ready," were unofficially associated with the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. In 1990 Mayfield was injured during a concert rehearsal and paralyzed. He didn't let that stop him, however, and before his death in 1999 Mayfield wrote more music and was admitted as a solo artist into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

Joined the Impressions

Born on June 3, 1942, Curtis Lee Mayfield grew up in a poor family that moved from neighborhood to neighborhood in Chicago. By the time he was in high school, his family had settled in the Cabrini-Green projects on Chicago's North Side. Mayfield's strongest early musical influence came from his membership in a local gospel group called the Northern Jubilee Gospel Singers, which included three cousins and Jerry Butler. But young Mayfield was also interested in his own music. As Mayfield told the Detroit News in 1974, "I was writing music when I was 10 or 11 years old." Mayfield's grandmother was a preacher in the Traveling Souls Spiritualist Church, and traces of church and gospel music are evident in many of his compositions. Mayfield attended Wells High School on Chicago's North Side along with another popular singer, Major Lance, but he left when he was in the tenth grade to begin performing with the Impressions.

The Impressions began playing around 1956 as the Roosters in Chattanooga, Tennessee, with Fred Cash, Sam Gooden, Emanuel Thomas, and the brothers Richard and Arthur Brooks. Seeking to advance their musical careers, Gooden and the Brooks brothers went north to Chicago in 1957 and moved to the North Side in the Cabrini-Green projects. Jerry Butler was a senior in high school at the time, and he acted as a replacement for the vocalists who had stayed in Tennessee. Butler encouraged Mayfield to join the group, saying they needed someone "who could play an instrument and who could help us get our harmony together," as quoted by Robert Pruter in Chicago Soul. By this time, Mayfield was writing gospel-influenced songs and had learned how to play the guitar.

The group made some early recordings for the Bandera label and were then discovered by Eddie Thomas of Vee Jay records, who became their manager and changed their name to the Impressions. Vee Jay and Chess records were two of Chicago's major rhythm and blues labels of the time, and the Impressions made their first record for Vee Jay about six months after Mayfield joined the group. Released on the company's subsidiary label, Falcon, "For Your Precious Love" featured Jerry Butler's lead vocals. Its first issue sold over nine hundred thousand copies. Vee Jay's A&R man Calvin Carter signed them immediately after hearing the song, which he reportedly liked for its spiritual feel, a genuine departure from the doo-wop harmonies of the day.

Vee Jay promoted the group as "Jerry Butler and the Impressions" and developed Butler as a solo artist. After three singles, Butler left the group to go out on his own. As Mayfield told Pruter, "When Jerry left ... it allowed me to generate and pull out my own talents as a writer and a vocalist." Mayfield's soprano singing contrasted with Butler's baritone leads. The group released a few singles with Mayfield as leader and then was dropped by Vee Jay. From 1959 to 1961, the Impressions temporarily split up, and Mayfield began writing songs and playing guitar for Butler in 1960.

Gospel Influence Proved Popular

By 1961 Mayfield had saved enough money--about a thousand dollars--to regroup the Impressions and take them to New York to arrange a recording session. In July they recorded "Gypsy Woman" for ABC-Paramount. Mayfield was only 18 when the group signed with ABC-Paramount, and it was the beginning of a seven-year string of popular and rhythm and blues hits that were all composed by Mayfield. Mayfield, Sam Gooden, Fred Cash, and Arthur and Richard Brooks sang on "Gypsy Woman." The Brooks brothers left the Impressions in 1962, and the remaining members continued as a trio throughout the 1960s.

In 1963 the group recorded "It's All Right," which Pruter termed "the first single to define the classic style of the 1960s Impressions." Producer Jerry Pate "lifted the energy level considerably, adding blaring horns and a more forceful, percussive bottom," wrote Pruter. "It's All Right" was a crossover hit that went to Number Four on the pop charts and Number One on the rhythm and blues charts in the fall of 1963. The song featured "the lead switching off from among the three and the two others singing in harmony with the lead," Pruter commented in Chicago Soul . It was a fresh new sound in rhythm and blues, but critics have noted that it came directly from Mayfield's gospel singing experience.

In 1964 the Impressions became a major act with a series of strong singles that included "I'm So Proud," "Keep On Pushing," and "Amen." Mayfield was apparently inspired by the emergence of the civil rights movement. The Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., and Jesse Jackson adopted "Keep On Pushing" as an unofficial theme song for the movement. Dan Kening, writing in the Chicago Tribune, proclaimed that Mayfield's "inspirational lyrics reflected a strong black consciousness while preaching the tenets of hard work, persistence, and faith as the key to achieving equality."

The group peaked with their best material in 1965 when they released "People Get Ready," a song with heavy gospel imagery and feeling. The album of the same name included such songs as "Woman's Got Soul" and the churchy "Meeting Over Yonder." Following this peak, the group was less successful and had fewer hits. In 1967 "We're a Winner" managed to reach Number 14 on Billboard's pop charts, in spite of the fact that many white radio stations, including Chicago's WLS, would not play it. That song, and its follow-up "We're Rolling On," also caused black radio stations problems in the late 1960s. As Pruter wrote, "Surprisingly at that time, black radio had not kept pace with its black constituency and there was a lot of resistance by programmers over playing such 'overtly' political songs. The popularity of those songs ["We're a Winner" and "We're Rolling On"] had the effect of pushing black radio in the direction its listeners were going."

In addition to composing, singing, and playing the guitar, Mayfield was also interested in setting up his own record label. In 1960, at the age of 21, he made the unprecedented move of establishing his own music publishing company, Curtom, while recording at Vee Jay. Mayfield began setting up two labels in 1966, Mayfield and Windy C., but it was in 1968 that he established his most successful label, also named Curtom. He took the Impressions away from ABC and also recorded and produced such artists as Major Lance, Baby Huey and the Babysitters, and the Five Stairsteps. Mayfield's songwriting and producing abilities were a key factor in the label's success, which enjoyed distribution by Buddah from 1968 to 1975 and by Warner Brothers from 1975 until Mayfield folded the label in 1980.

Found Success With Solo Career

Mayfield announced his departure from the Impressions in August of 1970. He began his solo career in 1971, offering "a biting commentary of the American scene and impressions of oppressed people," according to a review in Billboard. A New York Times music critic said of his first solo album, Curtis: "Mayfield himself continues to be a kind of contemporary preacher-through-music. He sings in a breathlessly high, pure voice, breaking his phrases into speech-like patterns, his rhythms pushed by the urgency of his thought.... He is not a lyrical singer, and his message seems as important to him as his melody." Including songs of up to ten minutes in length, Curtis established Mayfield as an album rather than a singles artist.

Mayfield began a successful career writing soundtracks for films with the 1972 movie, Superfly. Somewhat controversial, the film glorified the life of a drug pusher and was part of the then-popular genre of "blaxploitation" films. According to a New York Times review, "Mayfield's music is more specifically anti-drugs than the philosophical content of the movie, and it is also considerably more stylish in design and execution." Two top-ten hit singles resulted from the soundtrack: "Freddie's Dead" and "Superfly."

Throughout the 1970s, Mayfield continued to write soundtracks for several films and solidified his reputation as a solo artist. Mayfield's solo career featured harder sounding songs than he wrote for the Impressions, with didactic lyrics and social commentary. In spite of adverse criticism, Pruter assessed Mayfield's 1970s output positively, writing, "Some of the very best black popular music of the 1970s came from Mayfield, who despite the many misses during the decade was one of the creative leaders in establishing a new contemporary style of rhythm and blues, one with a militant, harder edge."

The Impressions regrouped in 1983 for a reunion tour. Original members Butler, Mayfield, Gooden, and Cash performed the 1960s hits of the Impressions along with the solo hits of Butler and Mayfield. As reviewed by Robert Palmer in the New York Times, the performances "amounted to a capsule history of recent black popular music, from the slick doo-wop and grittier gospel-based vocal group styles of the 1950s to Mr. Butler's urbane pop-soul, Curtis Mayfield's soul message songs and later funk, and the styles the Impressions have tackled as a group." Palmer continued: "The Impressions were one of the two top rhythm-and-blues vocal groups of the 1960s; the other was the Temptations. Both were rooted in the rich traditions of black gospel music."

Mayfield's influence on a new generation of listeners was evident in many ways. His 1960s compositions for the Impressions have enjoyed numerous cover versions from a wide range of popular singers. And some critics have suggested that his anti-drug messages, most emphatically expressed in the songs for Superfly, fit well with the new films created by young black filmmakers. Popular rap singer and actor Ice-T, who sang on "Superfly 1990" with Mayfield, said in tribute to the artist, "There's only been a couple of people I've met [in the music business] that to me are really heavy. Curtis is one of them."

Continued Career After Paralyzing Accident

A native Chicagoan who moved to Atlanta in 1980, Curtis Mayfield was enjoying the best comeback year of his career in 1990. His soul vocal group the Impressions, was nominated for a place in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and a successful cover version of their 1961 hit "Gypsy Woman," was recorded by Santana. Take It to the Streets, Mayfield's first album in more than five years, was released in early 1990, and he toured the United States, Europe, and Japan to promote it. Capitol Records was set to release the soundtrack to The Return of Superfly, a rap sampler featuring four original songs written and performed by Mayfield.

Then tragedy struck. On a windy summer night in August of 1990, Mayfield was getting set to start a concert at Wingate Field in Brooklyn. As he was plugging in his guitar, a gust of wind toppled a light tower near the stage, striking him in the head. The accident resulted in three broken vertebrae and paralysis for Mayfield from the neck down. After spending a week in a Brooklyn hospital, he was transferred to the Shepherd Spinal Center in Atlanta. Keeping his spirits up, Mayfield began physical therapy in September of 1990 and made his first public appearance in February of 1991, when he donated $100,000 to set up the Curtis Mayfield Research Fund at the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis in Florida. His family was reportedly hopeful that his physical therapy will enable him to make at least a partial recovery.

Mayfield might have been injured, but he wasn't forgotten. Various artists got together in 1994 to put out a tribute album in honor of the great Curtis Mayfield, including Eric Clapton, Phil Collins, Stevie Wonder, Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin, B.B. King, Lenny Kravitz, the Isley Brothers, and Bruce Springsteen. Mayfield himself got back into the recording studio to do "All Men Are Brothers" for the album. He told Guitar Player magazine that the album meant a lot to him. "I was just overwhelmed. It brought tears to my eyes. As they would record them, they would send me copies of each. I'd play them over and over, and there wasn't a song I didn't like. It just goes to show you that no matter how bad things might get, there's always room for something good to happen."

And Mayfield's music stayed alive. Rhino Records came out with a three-CD boxed set of Mayfield's music in 1996. It included music from his days with the Impressions through to his later solo career. In 1997 Mayfield released the new album New World Order. When asked how his music writing had changed since his accident, Mayfield told People Weekly, "It's difficult simply because when an idea hits me, I can't just up and grab a guitar or recorder or a pencil and write it down.... But I'm happy to know I can still lock in lyrics, and I have enough voice and strength in my lungs to sing a song." As an even greater tribute to the man and his music, Mayfield was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1998 for his solo recordings.

On December 26, 1999, Mayfield died in Atlanta, Georgia of natural causes. Even though he had passed on, his music and career continue to be influential. In 2000 a two-hour musical celebration was held to commemorate Mayfield's life and career at the First AME Church in Los Angeles. Performers such as Stevie Wonder, Lauryn Hill, the Impressions, Mayfield's old band, and Danny Glover led the event. Also in 2000, Mayfield was posthumously inducted into the Songwriters' Hall of Fame. It is a great tribute to a man who led many in their paths to musical art. As Eric Clapton told Guitar Player magazine, "Curtis changed the course of modern music, bringing refinement, cool, and social comment to R&B and leading the way for songwriters, players, and singers in all fields of music. He [was] a great talent and inspiration to us all.


Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, inductee with the Impressions, 1990; Nat. Acad. of Recording Arts & Sciences Lifetime Achievement Award, 1994; Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, inductee as a solo artist, 1998; Songwriters' Hall of Fame, inductee, 2000.


Selected discography

(With The Impressions) The Impressions, ABC-Paramount, 1963.
(With The Impressions) The Never Ending Impressions, ABC-Paramount, 1964.
(With The Impressions) Keep On Pushing, ABC-Paramount, 1964.
(With The Impressions) People Get Ready, ABC-Paramount, 1965.
(With The Impressions) Ridin' High, ABC-Paramount, 1966.
(With The Impressions) The Fabulous Impressions, ABC-Paramount, 1967.
(With The Impressions) This Is My Country, Curtom, 1968.
(With The Impressions) Young Mods' Forgotten Story, Curtom, 1969.
(With The Impressions) Check Out Your Mind, Curtom, 1970.
(With The Impressions) The Vintage Years: Featuring Jerry Butler and Curtis Mayfield, Sire, 1976.
Curtis, Curtom, 1970.
Curtis Live, Curtom, 1971.
Roots, Curtom, 1971.
Superfly (soundtrack), Curtom, 1972.
Back to the World, Curtom, 1973.
Sweet Exorcist, Curtom, 1974.
Got to Find a Way, Curtom, 1974.
There's No Place Like America, Curtom, 1975.
Give Get Take and Have, Curtom, 1976.
Never Say You Can't Survive, Curtom, 1977.
Short Eyes (soundtrack), Curtom, 1977.
Do It All Night, Curtom, 1978.
Heartbeat, RSO/Curtom, 1978.
Something to Believe In, RSO/Curtom, 1979.
The Right Combination, RSO/Curtom, 1980.
Honesty, Boardwalk, 1982.
Take It to the Streets, Curtom, 1990.
The Return of Superfly (soundtrack), Capitol, 1990.
New World Order, 1996.
Further Reading


Albert, George, and Frank Hoffman, editors, The Cashbox Black Contemporary Singles Charts, 1960-1984, Scarecrow, 1986.
Pruter, Robert, Chicago Soul, University of Illinois Press, 1991.
St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture, 5 Volumes, St. James Press, 2000.
Whitburn, Joel, Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955-1990, Record Research, 1991.
---, Joel Whitburn's Top R&B Singles 1942-1988, Record Research, 1988.

Bo Diddley

Personal Information

Born Elias Bates on December 30, 1928, in McComb, MS; son of Eugene Bates and Ethel Wilson; legally adopted by mother's cousin, Gussie McDaniel, 1934; married Louise Woolingham (divorced); married Ethel Smith, 1946 (divorced); married Kay Reynolds, 1960.


Formed Langley Avenue Jive Cats with Earl Hooker, early 1940s; recorded for Chess Records, 1955-74; toured the United Kingdom and performed with the Rolling Stones, 1963; toured with the Clash, 1979; performed at Live Aid Concert in Philadelphia, 1985; played at George Bush's presidential inaugural, 1989; performed at Bill Clinton's presidential inaugural, 1993.

Life's Work

Bo Diddley surprised the music world in the mid-1950s when he unleashed a new guitar sound, one dominated by heavy rhythmic drive and distortion, and one that was quickly absorbed by other players. "Unarguably one of the most-influential musicians in rock 'n' roll," noted Doug Pullen in Music Hound Rock, "Diddley's distinctive 'chunka, chunka' rhythm guitar riff is the stuff of which rock's bedrock was made." The sound formed the core of several hits, including "Who Do You Love," "Bo Diddley," and "You Can't Judge a Book by Its Cover." Dave Marsh wrote in the New Rolling Stone Record Guide, "Bo Diddley was one of the great fathers of rock & roll, ranking with such transitional blues artists as Fats Domino and Chuck Berry in both importance and influence."

Diddley was born Elias Bates in McComb, Mississippi, on December 30, 1928. At eight he was adopted by his mother's cousin, who taught Sunday school in Chicago, and changed his last name to McDaniel. He took classical violin lessons from Professor O.W. Frederick at Ebenezer Baptist Church, but later switched to guitar after hearing John Lee Hooker on the radio. In his teens he started boxing and became known by his nickname, Bo Diddley. He attended Foster Vocational High School, where he learned to build violins and guitars, but eventually quit school in order to work at manual labor jobs. He also played guitar on street corners during his spare time to make money, but his adoptive mother, his uncles, and the church's preachers and deacons protested against the "devil's music." Due to these conflicts, he later left home.

In the early 1950s Diddley and Billy Boy Arnold formed a band that included a washboard and maracas player. By 1954 the group was performing at the Sawdust Trail and Castle Rock in Chicago, and they recorded a demo to circulate at record labels like United and Vee-Jay. The disc finally came to the attention of Leonard Chess of Chess Records. He liked it, he told Diddley, but the song would have to be re-recorded and the obscene lyrics changed to make it marketable. Named after the singer, the single "Bo Diddley" rose to number two on Billboard's rhythm and blues chart. Mark Guarino wrote in the Arlington Heights, Illinois, Daily Herald, "Starting with his first hit, Diddley infused a raw, distorted guitar power that hadn't been heard before."

Diddley's guitar sound, filled with propulsive rhythm, helped to lay the foundation for rock-n-roll. In Marshall Cavendish's Illustrated Guide to Popular Music, writer Val Wilmer declared, "An entire rock generation cut its teeth on the 'Diddley beat,' which Bo first heard played on tambourines in church." Music scholars have traced the roots of the beat to an even earlier time. "Musicologists have pointed to that beat's roots in West Africa before slavery," wrote Dave Scheiber in the Chicago Sun Times, and "then to Deep South slaves patting out what became known as the 'Hambone' rhythm on their bodies."

As "Bo Diddley" rose on the chart, the singer was invited to appear on the Ed Sullivan Show, but there was a hitch. The producers had originally wanted Tennessee Ernie Ford to appear, because his hit "Sixteen Tons" was the fastest-rising single on the charts. They asked Diddley to perform "Sixteen Tons," believing it was the song, as opposed to the performer, that really mattered. When he complained that he didn't know the song, the producers rehearsed it with him and wrote the words to the song in large letters on cue cards. When the time came for the live broadcast, Dr. Jive introduced the guitarist, who took the stage and promptly began to sing "Bo Diddley." As he exited, he was reported to have said: "Man, maybe that was 'Sixteen Tons' on those cards, but all I saw was 'Bo Diddley!'"

1950s' rock-n-rollers like Diddley fell on hard times during the 1960s. Even though Jimi Hendrix and others built their guitar techniques on the work of early innovators like Diddley, the earlier style was considered passé. This attitude made it difficult for old-school players to find steady, good paying work. During this time Diddley acquired a number of debts attempting to finance his children's education. In order to meet expenses, he sold the rights to a number of his songs. Despite these difficulties, he continued to score a number of minor hits in the United States and England. "You Can't Judge a Book By It's Cover" rose to number 48 in the United States in 1962 and "Ooh Baby" entered the Hot Hundred; in the United Kingdom "Pretty Thing" reached the top forty in 1964 and "Hey Good Lookin'" followed in 1965.

Despite general public recognition of his contributions to rock-n-roll, and acknowledgements from high-profile players like the Rolling Stones and Bruce Springsteen, Diddley's innovative sound and string of hits have generated few financial rewards for the musician. "Like many early rock 'n' roll artists--especially African-American acts," noted Scheiber, "record producers, music publishers and booking agents pocketed most of the cash." Because he has received inadequate compensation for his work, Diddley has had to maintain an active touring schedule in order to support himself, despite health problems. "You gotta work," he told Anthony DellaFlora in the Albuquerque Journal. "If I ever got paid, maybe I wouldn't have to work. But I got ripped off very bad with the record companies and the publishing mess." Since 1980 Diddley has fought an ongoing legal battle seeking compensation for his music.

Diddley's legal and financial difficulties, however, have done little to slow the rock-n-roll innovator down. At the end of 2002, he had begun work on a rap song about Saddam Hussein ("Saddam Hussein, pick up your phone, if you do we might leave you alone"), and was planning to record his first album in four years at his home studio. He is one of the rare musicians to have performed at both Republican and Democratic presidential inaugurations. Diddley earned a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Rhythm and Blues Foundation. "We may never know exactly who is the father of rock 'n' roll," wrote DellaFlora, "but if a paternity test is ever performed, Bo Diddley's musical DNA will surely have to be sampled."


Lifetime Achievement Award, Rhythm and Blues Foundation; Star, Hollywood Walk of Fame; inducted into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, 1987.


Selected discography

Bo Diddley, Checker, 1957.
Go Bo Diddley, Checker, 1959.
Have Guitar, Will Travel, Checker, 1959.
Bo Diddley's Beach Party, Checker, 1963.
Golden Decade, Chess, 1973.
The Chess Box, Chess, 1990.
His Best (Chess 50th Anniversary Collection), Chess, 1997.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Hank Marvin

As a staff writer for the Swedish guitar magazine FUZZ I have had the distinct pleasure of interviewing a number of my early guitar heroes - Jeff Beck, Steve Cropper, Buddy Guy and Albert Lee among others - but never the first guitarist that I ever tried to emulate, namely Hank Marvin. The very first tune I ever learned all the way through (well, more or less) was ”Apache”... So when Hank came to Sweden on his ”Final Tour” earlier this year it suddenly became a matter of urgency to try to arrange an interview. FUZZ had tried to get an interview on previous visits, but the perpetual mantra from the record company was always the same: ”Hank doesn’t give interviews”, full stop. But I couldn’t let this last chance slip by me, so this time I decided to go direct to the source, and play my trump card.

I’ll let you in on a secret - over 40 years ago, I was a member of the Cliff Richard and The Shadows Fan Club, one of 90 boys among some 18,000 girls. The club was run by a girl called Jan Vane, who felt sorry for the boys - they never seemed to win any prizes in the monthly fan club contests. She announced a ”boys only”contest - ”Pick a name for a pop group”. The judges were Hank and Bruce Welch, as I recall. My offering was ”The Spectacles”... I guess all the other entries must have been rubbish, because I won. The prize was the red ”sharkskin” suit Cliff wore in the concert scene with the Shadows at the end of the film ”The Young Ones”, signed by Cliff in the lining (with a nice white shirt and under-collar bow tie). It hangs in my wardrobe to this day. Not that I can even get into the jacket now - I had grown out of the trousers by the time I was 18. But it’s cool. It’s very cool.

So I wrote a personal letter to Hank, related this story, and asked very politely if he would grant me an interview. I had this delivered by motorcycle messenger to his dressing room at the Concert House in Gothenburg the evening before he was to perform in Stockholm, where I live. To my delight and surprise Hank’s tour manager rang about an hour and a half later - I was welcome to meet Hank over lunch at his hotel in Stockholm the next day! So here is an exclusive interview with a living legend, the man who inspired a whole generation of guitar players, and even many of their children, Hank Marvin, lead guitarist of The Shadows.

Hank Marvin and Bruce Welch met in their hometown of Newcastle, and formed a band called The Railroaders in 1957. They soon moved to London, and changed their name to The Chesternuts when singer Peter Chester joined them for their first single release. Cliff Richard’s manager discovered Hank at the legendary ”2 i’s” coffee bar, and invited him to audition for Cliff’s group The Drifters. Hank accepted, on the condition that his friend Bruce was included in the deal. Also in the group at the time were bass guitarist Paul Samwell and drummer Terry Smart. Jet Harris took over the bass in October 1958, and Tony Meehan replaced Smart the year after, completing the classic lineup.

Cliff Richard had already hit in a big way in mid-1958 with his first single release ”Move It”, followed up by a row of Top 5 and Number One hits. The Drifters released a couple of singles, but neither made any great inroads on the charts. In October 1959 the group changed its name to The Shadows, when the American vocal group The Drifters gained an injunction forbidding them to use the name in the USA. (Cliff and The Shadows made one visit in 1960, but never really broke in the States.) ”Apache”, released in July 1960, was a huge hit, staying on the Top 40 for over 20 weeks. (Dutch guitarist Jorgen Ingmann scored the hit with the Jerry Lordan tune in the States.) The Shadows had more than 25 English Top 40 hits before they split up in 1968. If you count in the 33 hit singles they recorded with Cliff Richard the group had more English Top 40 hits than The Beatles.

Hank Marvin’s influence in rock guitar circles is indisputable, and cannot be overstated. Gary Moore, Ritchie Blackmore, Brian May, Tony Iommi, Peter Green, Mark Knopfler, Peter Frampton, Andy Summers - when all these guys (and all the rest of us) took their first stumbling steps on the road to guitar proficiency, ”Apache”, ”Man Of Mystery”, ”F.B.I.” or maybe Cliff’s ”Livin’ Doll” were among the first tunes they tried to learn. Any budding guitarist more or less had to learn them, to have any chance of passing an audition to play in a band at all. (If you were really good, you could even play ”Foot Tapper”.) The singer in Jeff Beck’s first band, The Deltones, has related that the band were infinitely impressed by Beck’s ability to play Shadows tunes ”just like Hank” when he auditioned for them. Beck has spoken dismissively of this, but I still think I can hear echoes of Hank in his playing even today, particularly in his use of the vibrato bar and on some of the slow ballads. Marvin’s influence on the other side of the Atlantic has become more widely appreciated in later years, in spite of the fact that neither Cliff Richard nor The Shadows ever really broke in the States in any big way. Artists as diverse as Steve Stevens, Neil Young, Randy Bachman and Bela Fleck have all named Hank Marvin among their influences.

It’s hard to tell that the slim, smiling figure approaching me in the lobby is 60 years old. Hank Marvin doesn’t look it, even att close range. But he doesn’t want us to take any photos - a Norwegian paper had recently printed a picture he didn’t like at all. Hank is just as relaxed as he looks in pictures - and on the concert stage, for that matter. He seems to be an open, friendly and kind-hearted man, and is surprisingly interested in discussing techicalities about his guitars and equipment, despite more than 40 years in the business. He also has a typically British sense of humour, understated and self-deprecating, and a ready laugh.

So - the big question on everybody’s minds is, on the posters it says - ”The Final Tour” - that’s the final word, is it?

- The final solution! (laughs) - well, I suppose everyone at some point must make a decision whether to continue touring. I’m very careful about this, because I don’t want to shut any doors. I have no intention of doing any more of these long, intensive tours. But that’s not to say I might not do something in the form of live work at some point, maybe of a very short duration, or something that interests me, whatever, in the future - I simply don’t know at this stage. But just to recap, I certainly don’t want to do any more of these long tours. So yes, this is The Final Tour.

But your’e not giving up playing?

- Not entirely, no. I’m going to have a long rest, though. I shall go into intensive care after the tour! (Laughs) Because we have 64 concerts on this one- when I finish the dates in Scandinavia we have another 50 in the UK. Everyone at the end of a tour like that - the band, the crew, everyone - really feels like we’re ready for a break. It’s pretty gruelling.

Yeah, I’ve been there - not on that level, but I’ve played 6 nights a week for 9 months on the trot, so I know, it’s hard work.

- It is. It’s not so much the performances, funnily enough - I think we all enjoy the performances - it’s the travelling, you’re constantly having late nights, sometimes early mornings because of having to catch flights - and then perhaps interviews on local radio, or local TV. It makes the days often very long, and very demanding. And when that goes on for that amount of time, it can - harrumph! - for a man of my age - (laughs) it can be - knackering!

You’re going to be 60 this year, is that right?

- I am 60, I was 60 last October. But I appreciate the thought!

LAST October? Congratulations!
You’ve been living in Australia for the past - what? - 15 years?

- 15 years plus now, almost 15 -1/2. Yes.

What was the big attraction with Australia?

- Several things, really. We live in Perth, Western Australia - the weather is a Mediterranean climate there, I prefer warmth to cold - and less people, less traffic...

Cleaner air, maybe?

- Well, yes - you get a feeling that the city is generally cleaner than say, British cities anyway. You’ve got great beaches, lovely countryside, great food over there - eating out is pretty cheap over there. It seems to be the quality of life generally is better. And because I - and my family, my wife - we prefer a place where there is less traffic and less people, it suits us. It seems as though there’s therefore less pressure. You just feel more relaxed in that kind of environment, I think.

And then of course there’s the Aussies, they’re kind of special too.

- Yeah, they’re very relaxed people, generally, in their approach to things. But then having said that, they get a lot of things done. They’re quite a creative people, really - a lot of inventions, I was surprised, come out of Australia - and they do very well at sports, and some very good music has come out of Australia. So whilst they’ve got this ”She’ll be right, mate” attitude, they still seem to get quite a lot of stuff done, and creative ideas, and things.

You know’ it’s funny, but all these years - I never found out until last night that Hank Marvin wasn’t your real name.

- Well it is my real name, but I wasn’t born with that name. I changed it when I was 18. So it is my real name, the other one doesn’t exist! Funnily enough, there was a period - maybe if I was coming into the music scene now as a youngster, I perhaps wouldn’t change my name. But in those days it seemed to be the thing to do, everybody had a stage name.

Right - you couldn’t call yourself Harry Webb (Sir Cliff Richard’s given name) back then, could you? It was all Adam Faith, and Billy Fury, and Rory Storm!

- That’s right. It just seemed the way to go, I’d been known as Hank for many. many years, so that just stuck. The ”Marvin” I got from {country singer} Marvin Rainwater - I thought ”I love the sound of that name Marvin, it sounds good.”

You got the ultimate accolade really, didn’t you - your name became London rhyming slang! {”I’m Hank (Marvin)!” = I’m starving (hungry)}

- So it was a good move, you see! The other one could have been rhymed with something else - very unfortunate! (Laughs)

(Interviewer collapses in helpless laughter...) {Hank Marvin was christened ”Brian Robson Rankin”...} (Wiping tears from eyes) Well, you’re still using the Custom Shop Strats, obviously, but you’ve been doing a lot of acoustic work recently.

- On stage I use three of the Custom Shop Strats. the signature models - simply because they’re all strung with different gauge strings. I use heavy strings for the old Shads stuff, and I use 11 to 50’s for most of the stuff, that’s my kind of compromise string gauge. Then we do a rock medley where I attempt a little bit of country style playing on one number, where I use 10 to 46’s. I sort of prefer the sound of the heavier strings really. But getting back to the acoustics, ever since I’ve been doing the solo tours we’ve had a little acoustic set, and it’s always gone very well, and with this new album - the ”Guitar Player” album - we’re doing a little more acoustic on this tour, we’re doing six tracks from the album. And I enjoy playing acoustic, I kind of got into it over the last - ten years, I suppose.

Well of course it’s become a lot easier now, with the modern pickup systems, hasn’t it?

- Oh yes!

I remember seeing you at the Concert House about 15 years ago with the Shadows, you were doing an acoustic set back then too.

- Were we singing with the acoustics?

That’s right, yes.

- I’ve done a bit of that with my band, but this is all instrumental, it’s all tracks from the album.

Do you still do the Chinese number?

- The Chinese one with the tuning up?

Too-nin, yeah! (The Shadows’ traditional ”And now we’re going to do a little Chinese number called Too-Nin...”)

- (Laughs) I forgot that one. I should stick it in again! Thanks for the memories! (Laughs) On stage, we do a couple of numbers which have acoustic solos in the middle of them, where I have the guitar on a Gracie stand, and I switch from electric to acoustic. But the guitar I’m mainly using is a guitar I had made for me - it’s in the style of the old Selmers that Django Reinhardt used, it’s a Dave Hodson guitar. On the album I used a French Flavino, which is the same sort of guitar. But it wasn’t amplified, and I thought, well - and it’s also got the marker dot at the tenth fret, instead of the ninth fret, which at first totally threw me until I got used to it. I couldn’t work out why I kept playing in the wrong key every time I went up the fingerboard! But once I realised what it was - I’ve got used to it now, but I thought on stage it could be a bit of a problem. I’ve already got enough to worry about, I’ve got three different lots of string gauges on the Strats, and obviously everything feels different - using two different acoustic guitars, and this one has a long scale, as you probably know, 26-1/2 inch scale on the Selmers, and the Selmer-style guitars - and I thought, if I’ve also got the marker dot in the wrong place, on live work, this could become very confusing. So I got Dave Hodson in England, who has quite a reputation for making these guitars - he was able to make me one in four weeks, which is something of a world record, I think. And it’s still wearing in a little bit, it sounds good though. It’s giving me that sort of sound - I hope it is anyway! - that’s on most of this album, that very midrange Selmer sound. We’ve got a Fishman Blender setup in that one. But unfortunately, the problem you have with acoustics when you’re using monitors in front of you because you’ve got electric bass and drums, they’re prone to feedback, so on the monitoring system they have to cancel out the frequencies that tend to start feeding back, which means you lose a lot of the tone, and you end up with an unpleasant tone most of the time. And it’s not nice to play. But there’s no way round it, using the monitors as we do. The only other way round it is to have the monitors alongside, but we can’t have that for the rest of the show, so it’s a bit of a problem.

You had the very first Fender Strat in England, didn’t you?

- Yes, Cliff (Richard) bought it for me in the States, you couldn’t buy them in England back then. That first Strat - when we were able to get Strats through Jennings, who became the distributors for Fender once the import ban was lifted - I gave Cliff that guitar back, because we got matching red ones, and that new red was slightly different. And Cliff kind of put it in a cupboard, then he now and again got it out and played a number on stage himself. Then he had it sprayed white, and according to Bruce, Cliff gave him that guitar. But according to Cliff, he lent him it... So I don’t know quite where the truth lies, but Cliff reckons it’s on permanent loan, but Bruce reckons he gave him it. He’s hanging on to it!

That’s worth a few bob now!

- Yeah! I have a ’58 red Strat, though, which I did use on stage through the 80’s - until I got the signature models - and that’s a nice guitar. The good thing about the Custom Shop models, the ones I’ve got now, we were very concerned about trying to get them to stay in tune better. So we’ve got a Teflon nut, no string trees, and locking machne heads. And originally we had the new kind of tremolo block on it, the American Standard, but then Chris Kinman in Australia, whose pickups I use, recommended to me that I went back to the other ones, the vintage ones - he said they do sound better. And if it’s set up properly, it won’t go out of tune. And he sent me this Japanese copy of a Fender that he just tries his pickups out on, and he said, just try this tremolo - and it was great, didn’t go out of tune at all. So anyway, it’s all done now, and they’re the bridges I have, and they work very well, and they do stay in tune very well.

Oh yes, especially with the locking machine heads and the Teflon nut, that does the trick. I’m impressed with those Kinman pickups, too - I put a set on a Strat for one of your fans last week.

- They’re good, aren’t they? Was that the vintage set?

No, that was the ”modern” Hank Marvin set.

- Yeah. Slightly warmer.

Well of course back in the late 50’s, early 60’s, when you couldn’t get these thin strings, you were getting the fatter sound because of the fatter strings.

- That’s right. What we had was - I checked this out with Fender about 15 years ago. One of the guys who was around in the late 50’s was still around then, and he reckoned that the 3rd was a wound 26, that’s how they left the factory. Something like a 14 down to a 56. And I know they were heavy, but - great sound. But also I think what we have to keep in mind is, I know the pickups on the original Strat that Bruce and I had, and on my ’58 Strat, actually did have quite a warm sound compared to other Strats I’ve heard, not so brittle-sounding. So you had the thick strings, and the early Vox amplifiers which we had did not have top boost, that was a later invention of Dick Denney, who was deaf anyway! (Mutual laughter) There was a bizarre thing, an amplifier manufacturer and designer who’s deaf!

It goes with the territory, I guess! I spoke to Dick once a few years ago when I was researching an article, he was quite a character.

- Yes he was. He reminded me when I met him about two years ago - he died, you know, about a year ago?

Yes, I was sorry to hear that.

- He was reminding me about when we were using the Vox AC15’s - and apparently I said to him, can’t you put two of them together to make a louder amp, cause we couldn’t hear ourselves on stage for all the screaming - and he said the first AC30 he came up with had a smaller cabinet than the final production model. Because in my mind we were using - when we first went to ths States, 1960 - I was convinced we took AC30’s with us, and every one of them blew up on the first day. And therefore when we made Apache, I thought we were using AC30’s. And he said, ”No you weren’t, you were using AC15’s, I’ve seen a photograph of the session.” But I think what it was, I think it was the early AC30, before it went out with a slightly smaller cabinet, so it didn’t look quite the same. Maybe.

I remember reading a book about The Shadows back at the beginning of the 60’s, but I can’t remember the title?

- There was a book written in about 1961, I think - ”The Shadows By Themselves”, it was called. By Royston Ellis. He was a young ”Beat Poet”. He wrote very off-beat poetry, but he like to recite it to music, and we did a couple of gigs for fun with him - Jet Harris, Tony Meehan and myself. And we just played absolutely - drivel. It was totally free-form rubbish, we’d just get a beat going, it was absolutely shocking stuff. And he would sit there and be going ”Ah-be-dum-be-dum”... He was an early hippie, he had the hair and the beard, which in 1961 was very far out. He was only a young guy, in his late 20’s I think - a very bohemian character. But it was fun. And then we did a book in the 80’s which Mike Reid. a radio personality in England, he did it. It was all right. The trouble is with these sort of books, if you keep it fairly innocuous, it can become a bit bland. And I don’t like digging up the dirt - it’s easy to dig up dirt about other people, isn’t it, that you’ve worked with, or had a relationship with, or something. And I think that’s unfair, like when people name ex-girlfriends, or ex-boyfriends - it was 20 or 30 years ago, and we did this, we did that - what’s the point now? It puts them in an embarassing situation, perhaps - etcetera etcetera. I don’t go for that sort of journalese personally. So from that point of view it can end up being a little bit bland. I think that today, my personal view is that a lot of people seem to enjoy the sort of spicy biography.

It’s like all the nonsense people used to talk about Cliff - he never created enough scandal, so he never used to get left alone, did he.

- Well it’s an interesting thing that back in the late 50’s, early 60’s, because of the attitude of society generally, what was acceptable - we had a publicist called Les Perrin, who was very good, back at the time. Les was one of the best guys, a very nice man. And there were times when things happened, and Les, because of his contacts, would keep things quiet. Whereas - push on three years, if we had been a new band coming up then, we would have probably wanted them to get in the press, because it would have made us look really greasy!

When you think about when the Rolling Stones started up, and everybody was so shocked by what hey looked like - and if you look at a picture of them from that time today, you think, so what? My father thought they were the worst bunch of yobbos going, but he never objected to The Shadows!

- Well funnily enough, when the Stones first appeared, I remember seeing them - we were doing a summer season in Blackpool, and we saw them on one of those pop shows, I can’t remember which one it was - Thank Your Lucky Stars, or one of those - Keith Fordyce introduced it - and they were very smart actually, they had black and white dogstooth jackets with velvet collars, and ties on, and they all had very short hair. In fact Mick Jagger said something to Keith - ”You bet us we wouldn’t not have a haircut until next time we came on the show, and we haven’t!” And quite honestly, it wasn’t that long at all! It was a bit over the ears, but not at all what it was maybe a year or so later. So really that initial image they had was not the rebellious one that probably happened within about a year, and that was a manufactured thing. Andrew Loog Oldham created that - he knew the time was right for the rebellious image, there wasn’t a band around, or an artist - there was in the 50’s, but that had gone, and everything was sweet, and boy next door, and it was very clever. He manufactured things which got them fantastic - at the time, it was thought bad publicity, but I’ll tell you what - it worked, and a lot of the kids could relate to it.

On another note - what are you using for amplifiers nowadays?

- On the last tour two years ago, the guys who developed my echo system - I use a thing called Echoes From The Past - and Charlie Paul who got the system together had the brainwave of sampling every Shadows record, and every one of mine, to work out the echo things. So he worked them all out, and he’s even put a bit of wow and flutter on some of the old ones. And it’s great for stage, because obviously it’s noise-free - it sounds very authentic, and because it’s a digital device, I could actually change programs myself with a pedal, but to save me the hassle, my guitar tech changes it for each number. And if we do a medley, for example, I can get the correct echo for each number. And it’s ideal, because before everything had to be a compromise really - all-purpose echo for the next three numbers, really. And these guys had the bright idea of designing an amp - so Charlie and his off-sider Pete, and Ken, who’s an amp repair man and designer, he makes just one-offs for people - they got together and made this amp. And they brought it to me two years ago before a tour. I said, well, I’ll give it a whirl, we didn’t have time to really do a proper test, because we were running out of time with rehearsals. So I said we’ll take it with us, we’ll try it on tour. So we did an A/B test against the Matchless, and I thought it sounded a lot better, which I was really surprised at. They originally brought two cabinets in, two slightly different designs - the use of the wood, one was pine, the other was maybe ply, I don’t know. One cabinet sounded better to me - it had a much tighter low end - plenty of low end, but really defined, not one of those floppy bottom ends. And they were using Jensen speakers, because the Celestions aren’t always that tight on the low end. The ones Matchless use, they artificially age them, I think, they do something to them to get a better sound - and it is a better sound. But anyway, I thought, this sounds terrific - so we took them on tour, did some A/B’s on a few sound checks, and I just loved the mid-range on it, and the high end - it’s very clean, but to me it’s got more guts than the Matchless. And the sound guy said, that amp really does sound very good, it’s a lovely high end. I don’t know what the correct technical term would be, but some amplifiers to me sound a bit tinkly when you get up high, like Fenders. And I think that the Matchless is inclined that way. Voxes didn’t. This to me sounds a bit more - the guts of a Vox, but some of the refinement of a Matchless, if you know what I mean.. They’re called KCP - Ken, Charlie and Pete. But I think they’re terrific amps, I really do. Like I said that mid-range is very clean, and the high end has got real strength in it - but it’s still got that sound that I’m associated with, perhaps more so than the Matchless, which I thought were very good. They’re now producing them, they’re hand made - but they’re a lot cheaper than a Matchless. I suppose they’re more expensive than a Vox, but then a Vox is not hand made. They’re using quality components in these amps - I mean, we toured Voxes for years, and with us they had a terrible record of reliabilty. I’ve spoken to a lot of people who use them, and it’s always the same story. Some of the problems were associated with the proximity of some of the components, so they got too hot. Another problem we found was with the jack sockets, we had a few of those go. It was just a very poor quality jack socket.

Those old English Re-An plastic jack sockets!

- Exactly, yeah! John Jorgensen - the guitarist with the Hellecasters - told me - cause he used to use Voxes years ago - the guy who used to repair them all lived in Cleveland, and he flew some of his amps up to get them fixed, cause they were always breaking down - and this guy used to modify them so they didin’t break down. So he said to him, well, why don’t you build some amps, like you’re basically rebuilding the Vox, build some amps and sell them? And he finally persuaded him, and he came up with the first Matchless, and that’s how it started. If you ever get to meet John, you can ask him if it’s a true story!

We haven’t heard the last of Hank Marvin. Live long and prosper, Hank!

Shawn Lane

Shawn Lane was a phenomenally talented guitar player who never quite broke out beyond guitar enthusiasts and critics, but will remain influential to players for many years to come. Originally hailed as a child prodigy, Lane joined Black Oak Arkansas as a teenager, and could have been part of the guitar shredder movement of the late '80s and '90s, but his restless musical inclinations led him down a different path.

Lane began his musical education on piano and cello at age four, but had switched to guitar by age eight. At ten, he was holding band rehearsals at the house he shared with his grandmother, and since the other bandmembers left their instruments at his house, Lane was free to try them out, and added bass and drums to his keyboard and guitar abilities. By 15, Lane was becoming known in Memphis circles as a guitarist, which led to an audition with Black Oak Arkansas in 1978, who he toured with for the next four years. Black Oak Arkansas was still popular enough to play at Bill Clinton's inaugural as Governor of Arkansas, but the band's heyday was well behind them. After disbanding briefly, BOA was re-formed with a couple of Shawn's high school friends joining the band, and bringing a heavy fusion edge to this southern boogie band. Then, burnt out from touring, Lane basically dropped out of sight in 1982 for a couple years, practiced piano, studied music theory and composition, and did a lot of reading and watching movies (he claims he barely played guitar at all during this period).

The mid-'80s saw Shawn returning to guitar: first playing in some bands around the south, then appearing on an album produced by Mike Varney on the Shrapnel label, with a tune called "Stratosphere II" on the U.S. Metal compilation (his first available recording). Shortly afterwards, he formed a band called the Willys, who were the house band at the Peabody Hotel in Memphis. Many touring musicians caught Lane's playing while staying there, and word of mouth led to session work, and eventually to his playing on the Highwayman 2 album with Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson. That high profile work ,and a demo cassette passed to Jim Ed Norman at Warner Brothers led to Lane being signed to Warner Brothers in 1990.

Lane spent the next two years at home, creating the Powers of Ten album, on which he played every instrument. Following its release in 1992, Guitar Player Magazine named him "Best New Talent" and he placed second in Keyboard Magazine's "Best Keyboard Player" category. A touring band was assembled to promote the album, and a live recording was made, though it wasn't released until 2001(Powers of Ten Live!). His next project was DDT, a band that also featured Cody and Luther Dickenson, later of the North Mississippi Allstars. The DDT material was supposed to be for Lane's second album for Warner Bros., but the recording never materialized. Also at this time, Lane did production work for other artists, did a couple instructional videos, and developed curricula and taught at several European Conservatories.

1994 would be an important year for Lane, as it marked his first collaboration with Swedish bassist Jonas Hellborg, a relationship that would continue for nearly a decade and produce many releases (mostly on the Bardo label). Lane and Hellborg were perfect collaborators, sharing many of the same musical influences and many other interests as well, and it was playing with Hellborg that Lane really discovered his voice on guitar. They toured with drummer Jeff Sipe over the next several years, developing such a rapport that they were able to play completely improvised sets every night (documented on albums like Temporal Analogues of Paradise and Time Is the Enemy). Concurrently, in 1995, Hellborg and Lane played with Chinese pop singer Wei-Wei, and the Hellborg/Lane/Sipe trio appeared as an opening act at all of Mainland China's largest musical venues.

Lane and Hellborg parted ways with Sipe in 1997, allowing Lane to work on the tracks that would become Tri-Tone Fascination, his second solo album in 1999. Also at this time, he and Hellborg began incorporating more Near Eastern and Eastern influences into their playing and improvising (Zenhouse, ). In 1999, Lane and Hellborg began working with V. Selvaganesh, son of percussionist Vikku Vinayakram of Shakti fame, and began pushing the music into more of a South Indian fusion, as evidenced by Good People in Times of Evil.

Lane started having health problems in 2001, temporarily breaking off his work with Hellborg. After recovering, Lane started playing with a Memphis bar band called the Time Bandits, but was back with Hellborg and Sipe for a brief tour in 2002. There was also more work with the Vinayakrams, resulting in Icon, a dazzling work of East-West fusion that, unfortunately proved to be among Lane's final recorded works. There was a brief tour of India in February of 2003, but Lane's health problems returned, and on Sept. 26, 2003, Shawn Lane passed away following lung surgery. ~ Sean Westergaard, All Music Guide