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RIP Bert Weedon.


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Sorry if many younger VT'ers will never have heard of this man but he was probably the first 'lead guitarist'. Not exactly a jazzer or indeed rock 'n roller but certainly inspired many to take up guitar - including Eric Clapton ! From memory, always played a semi-acoustic, possibly a Gibson; listening to him today, he would possibly sound 'average' but 50 years ago he was the "dogs".

There were always rumours that he played solos for many big-name bands in the 60's when the lead couldn't quite nail it but one could never be sure; that topic deserves it's own thread! A seminal musician.

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RIP Bert, you were simply brilliant.

I have a bias, worked for him as a goffer very very briefly. This mostly involved making sure he never ever ran out of custard creams and was reminded what days he had to do his Butlins stint.

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For many years, THE 'teach yourself guitar' book:


Herbert Maurice William 'Bert' Weedon, OBE (10 May 1920 – 20 April 2012) was an English guitarist whose style of guitar playing was popular and influential during the 1950s and 1960s. He was the first British guitarist to have a hit record in the UK Singles Chart, in 1959, and his best-selling tutorial guides, Play in a Day, were a major influence on many leading British musicians, such as Eric Clapton, Brian May, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, John Lennon, Keith Richards, Pete Townshend, Tony Iommi and Jimmy Page. He was awarded an OBE in 2001 for his "services to music".

He was born in Burges Road, East Ham, London. Weedon began learning classical guitar at the age of twelve, and decided to become a professional musician. In his teens during the 1930s, he led groups such as the Blue Cumberland Rhythm Boys, and Bert Weedon and His Harlem Hotshots, before making his first solo appearance at East Ham town hall in 1939. He worked with leading performers including Stephane Grappelli and George Shearing, and performed with various big bands and orchestras, including those of Ted Heath and Mantovani.

He joined the BBC Show Band directed by Cyril Stapleton in the 1950s, when he began to be featured as a soloist. He also worked as a session musician on many early British rock and roll and other records for artists such as Adam Faith, Billy Fury and Tommy Steele and worked as an accompanist to visiting American singers such as Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland and Nat King Cole. It is estimated that he performed on over 5,000 BBC radio broadcasts. He was also seen regularly on British television in the 1950s, including some of the most popular children's television programmes. In 1959 he was asked by Top Rank Records to make a record as a solo guitarist. He became the first British guitarist in the UK Singles Chart, with "Guitar Boogie Shuffle" in 1959, and was cited as an influence by many stars, including Eric Clapton, Brian May, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, John Lennon, Pete Townshend, Keith Richards, Sting, Hank Marvin, Robert Smith, Mike Oldfield, Mark Knopfler and Jimmy Page. McCartney commented: "George and I went through the Bert Weedon books and learned D and A together." According to Clapton, “I wouldn’t have felt the urge to press on without the tips and encouragement Bert’s book gives you. I’ve never met a player of any consequence that doesn’t say the same thing.” Brian May stated: "There's not a guitarist in Britain from my generation who doesn't owe him a great debt of gratitude."

As well as his hits and TV appearances at a crucial time in modern music history, his best-known contribution to British guitar style is his tutorial guide Play in a Day, first published in 1957, which many stars claim was a major influence on their learning and playing. It sold over one million copies. He also wrote a follow-up, Play Every Day. His playing style focussed on both rhythm and melody, and was itself influenced by the jazz guitarists of the 1950s, notably Les Paul. Weedon placed a lot of emphasis on control of tone, and wanted to make the guitar the star of his music. The style became best known through the music of The Shadows, especially Hank Marvin. The Bonzo Dog Band mentioned Weedon in their song "We are Normal" on their album, The Doughnut in Granny's Greenhouse (1969). In November 1976, Weedon made number one, for one week, in the UK Albums Chart with 22 Guitar Golden Greats, a compilation album of guitar solos released on the Warwick label.

Neville Marten, editor of Guitar Techniques magazine, commented that Bert Weedon's contribution to the guitar world cannot be overstated: "With 'students' that number Eric Clapton, Brian May, Sting, Pete Townshend, John Lennon, Paul McCartney and countless others, Weedon could well be described as the most genuinely influential guitarist of all time."


We are normal and we dig Bert Weedon.

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