RIP Glen Campbell 1936-2017

Glen Campbell’s music isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Obviously.  But his musicianship ought to be.  You might not be a fan of Wichita Lineman (why not for goodness sake?) but you have to admire him as a guitarist.  And if you don’t already, here’s some reasons to do so.

Campbell was well respected as one of the top guitar players in the world, both as an artist and as session musician:

“He was one of the premier guitar players in rock and country.  A lot of people don’t know the respect he had in the rock & roll world”  Alice Cooper, Rolling Stone 10/08/17

If you’re a C&W detractor, just put your scepticism to one side for a moment and watch him play  (cut to 1.25mins for the stunning solo).

In his early career, Campbell made more money as a session man than he did gigging as an artist in his own right.  He was part of that astonishing pool of session musicians in LA later known as the Wrecking Crew.  He played on hundred’s of recordings including for Nat King Cole, Elvis Presley, Phil Spector, and Simon and Garfunkel and the Beach Boys.  He’s been Here he is recalling his time as a session musician:

As you know, I’m not at all averse to some Country music, so I’ve been listening to his back catalogue a fair bit in the last few days.  My cousin pointed me in the direction of his final studio album Adios.  It’s a beautiful record, and if you want to dig your toe in, it’s as good a place as any to start.  You can listen to it below.  Work backwards from there, and go on, you know you want to sing along …

“I’ve been walking these streets so long, singing the same old song ….”  Rhinestone Cowboy (Larry Weiss)

Jazz in a Tiny Room

The last time I saw the Nik Svarc Trio they blew my ears off. In a good way. We are so lucky to have these guys in Leeds.

My love of jazz guitar is in no small part encouraged  by our own local jazz musicians. I think I’ve seen all these guys play in the tiniest (but best) jazz venue in Leeds: Cafe Lento.  The venue holds around 25 people sitting, plus the band,  but I’ve seen it with twice that, and more dancing on the pavement outside.  I joked last week with cafe owner about getting a heavy metal band to play, wondering if the walls could stand it.  But come to think of it, the last time I saw the Nik Svarc Trio there, it blew my ears off.  In a good way.  A very good way.  We are so lucky to have these guys in my home city of Leeds.

Nic Svark, Jiannis Pavlidis, Jamie Taylor, Sam Dunn

George Benson and Marcus Miller

What a duo!  I love this recording.  The guitar, the bass, the voice!

To children of the 70s George Benson is a soul singer, and that’s it.  But long before he took the microphone, he was an outstanding jazz guitarist.  And when I say “was”, clearly I mean “is”.  Recently a judge on Sky Arts’ Guitar Star, his playing has become better known.  He’s certainly one of my guitar heroes.

There’s few bass players to top Marcus Miller.  Jazz composer, producer, and multi-instrumentalist, he’s played with Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Luther Vandross and David Sanborn.  It would be easier to name big names he hasn’t been a session musician for than those he has.  But he also has an outstanding solo career, wining Best Contemporary Jazz Album for his solo instrumental album M2.  For those of you who need to know these things, his go-to is a Sadowsky-modified Fender Jazz Bass.


Elizabeth Cotten

Elizabeth Cotten was an outstanding folk musician and composer. She toured extensively right up to her death in her 90s.

Elizabeth Cotton isn’t a widely known guitarist, even in the Folk world.  And yet she was an outstanding musician and composer.  She toured extensively in North America right up to her death, and composed some of folk’s greatest tunes.  Smithsonian Folkways describes her as a “Master of American folk music”.    As you will see from the video she had a unique left handed guitar style.

For a time in her 30s she lived with the Seeger family.  Charles and Ruth were both musicians and encouraged her to play.  They discovered she had remarkable musical skill and son Mike (brother to Peggy and Pete) recorded her playing.  She continued to tour until her death in 1987 aged 92.

B.B.King with Jeff Beck

I make no bones about my love of Jeff Beck’s playing.  This is a dream combo for me – Beck and B.B.   Beck always brings brilliance to a song without ever upstaging the other musicians on the stage.  He’s been called the greatest guitarist, the greatest guitar innovator, the best in the world etc etc, and who’s to argue.   And B.B. of course had one of the most distinctive guitar sounds ever.   What a combo!