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Sunday, April 16, 2017

Allan Holdsworth 1946-2017

Allan Holdsworth was considered perhaps one of the most innovative, influential, overlooked, and virtuosic guitar players that was brought to life. He passed away on Easter Sunday at the age of 70. His death was announced on Facebook by his daughter, Louise. It’s a sad loss for a man who took the guitar and the SynthAxe to a whole new level. And with supporters including; Eddie Van Halen, Frank Zappa, Joe Satriani, Richie Kotzen, Alex Lifeson, and Robben Ford who considers him to be “The John Coltrane of the Guitar.”

Holdsworth started out back in the late ‘60s with the band, ‘Igginbottom when they released their debut album, ‘Igginbottom’s Wrench on the DERAM label in 1969 which included one of the co-producers Mott the Hoople’s Morgan Fisher. Then he would embark on other bands and artists including Soft Machine, Pierre Morelen’s Gong, Nucleus’ Ian Carr, The New Tony Williams Lifetime, Jean-Luc Ponty, Tempest, and Bill Bruford. It wasn’t until the late ‘70s when he joined up with the late great John Wetton, Bruford, and Eddie Jobson with the super group, U.K. in 1978 in which they released their sole self-titled debut album on the E.G. label as the band would release one more album, four live albums, two video releases, and the 14-CD/4 Blu-ray release of the Ultimate Collector's Edition.

Allan left the band due to creative difference after it was released while he embarked on a solo career. He released 11 studio albums from 1976 to 2001. I can remember when I was in College discovering Holdsworth’s music with his time with Tempest on their sole self-titled release back in 1973 on the Bronze label which featured Colosseum’s Jon Hiseman, Paul Williams on Vocals, and Bassist Mark Clarke.

It is perhaps one of my favorites. Not just because of the essence of Progressive and Hard Rock, but the musicianship on there is eruptive, powerful, and mesmerizing. It’s like this mid-cannon blast from the moment the song Gorgon kicks into high gear as Paul Williams delves into his soulful voice resembling Paul Rodgers of Free/Bad Company.

Holdsworth can bring the heavy roars through the complex guitars and it’s staggering along with the rising track, Up and On, the Cream-sque touch on Foyers of Fun, and riding down the highways shuffle blues rock on Strangeher.  Allan left the band due to differences which I believe he didn't want to have a second guitar player which was Patto's Ollie Halsall on the second album, Living in Fear in 1974. The band broke up after their second album was released as Jon Hiseman went to reform Colosseum (Part II). But I'm off-topic.

The loss of Holdsworth shows how much he was ahead of his time, pushing the boundaries, and always looking to see where the road will take him next. He was working on a next album which was announced two years ago entitled Tales from the Vault by launching a pledge campaign to crowdfund his album. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family in this difficult time. He was and will always be the Man Who Changed Guitar Forever.

If you want to delve or if you are new to the world of Allan’s music, here’s some recommendations I picked:

Tempest – Tempest (Bronze/Esoteric Recordings)
‘Igginbottom – ‘Igginbottom’s Wrench (Deram/Esoteric Recordings)
Allan Holdsworth – Eidolon: The Allan Holdsworth Collection (Manifesto)
Pierre Moerlen’s Gong – Gazuese! (Virgin Records)
Soft Machine – Bundles (Harvest/Esoteric Recordings)
U.K. – U.K. (E.G. Records)
The New Tony Williams Lifetime – Believe It (Columbia)

Or the 12-CD Box Set, The Man Who Changed Guitar Forever 

And if you want to show support for Allan's family for a family memorial service, please go to their GoFundMe and give your love and help which is up to $65,768.

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