Sabtu, 26 Maret 2011

Allan Holdsworth

Allan Holdsworth (born 6 August 1946) is an English guitarist and composer. He has released twelve studio albums as a solo artist and played many different styles of music over a period of four decades, but is best known for his work in jazz fusion. A player noted for his advanced knowledge of the fretboard and innovative playing, he is cited by many rock and instrumental guitarists as an influence; such renowned names including Eddie Van Halen, Joe Satriani, Greg Howe,  Shawn Lane, Richie Kotzen, John Petrucci and many others. Frank Zappa once called Holdsworth "one of the most interesting guys on guitar on the planet".

Recording career
 Early bands ('Igginbottom, Sunship, Tempest)

Holdsworth first recorded with the band 'Igginbottom on their lone release, Igginbottom's Wrench (later reissued under the group name of "Allan Holdsworth & Friends"), in 1969. In 1971, Holdsworth joined Sunship, an improvising band also featuring Alan Gowen, Laurie Baker and future King Crimson percussionist Jamie Muir. The band played live but never recorded any records. In the early 1970s Holdsworth joined the British progressive rock band Tempest, and performed on their self-titled debut studio album in 1973. His playing can also be heard on a live BBC Radio concert from the same year, which was released in 2005 as part of a Tempest compilation album entitled Anthology: Under the Blossom.

Journeyman years (1974-1977)

Following his short tenure with Tempest, Holdsworth worked with various popular jazz fusion groups and artists. In 1974 he played on the Soft Machine studio album Bundles and with The New Tony Williams Lifetime on the Believe It album, an experience he was to prize. In 1976 he played with Gong (contributing to their Gazeuse and Expresso II albums) and with Jean-Luc Ponty on Enigmatic Ocean. In 1976, CTI Records released a recording of a rehearsal session, passing it off as an official recording, under the title of Velvet Darkness. This angered Holdsworth, who says he still loathes the album intensely.

Bruford, UK, and other (1977-1979)

In 1977, Holdsworth was recruited by Bill Bruford to play most of the guitar on Bruford's first (and jazz-fusion-orientated) solo album Feels Good To Me. Shortly afterwards, Bruford was recruited into a new, second-wave British progressive rock band - UK, which was fronted by Bruford's former King Crimson bandmate John Wetton. When Wetton recruited the virtuosic and classically-influenced Eddie Jobson (ex-Roxy Music/Frank Zappa) into UK on keyboards and violin, Bruford in turn recruited Holdsworth as a jazzier "counterweight". Both the Bruford and UK debut albums were released in early 1978, with the latter rapidly eclipsing the former in terms of profile and marketing. Holdsworth's second spell as a potential progressive rock star was as short as the first. Chafing at the more composed and predictable elements to UK's music, he objected to being expected to play the same solos every night. Despite his musical fluidity and virtuosity, this approach did not suit John Wetton, who fired him from the band. Bruford quit in sympathy or was also fired (depending on accounts). Holdsworth would later stress that although he'd not enjoyed his time in the band he'd liked and respected everyone involved and that the problems were "purely musical". While UK continued with a different lineup, Bruford formed his own long-term fusion project - also called Bruford and retained Holdsworth as its guitarist. The first album by the Bruford band (One Of A Kind, recorded and released in early 1979) featured extensive contributions by Holdsworth, but the guitarist was by now tired of being a sideman and wished to follow his own course. Following the band's first British tour, Holdsworth quit, although not without reluctance.


Holdsworth's next significant collaborator was jazz pianist Gordon Beck, with whom he first played on Beck's Sunbird album in 1979. Their first proper collaboration, The Things You See, followed in 1980, which was a largely similar effort without percussion or bass. Both musicians would later work together again in the decades to come. Soon afterwards, Holdsworth joined up with drummer Gary Husband and bassist Paul Carmichael as a trio, in what became known as False Alarm. This was to be Holdsworth's first outing as a bandleader and, after the acquisition of former Tempest singer Paul Williams, the band was renamed I.O.U. Their self-titled debut album, I.O.U., was released independently in 1982, followed by a mainstream reissue through Enigma Records in 1985.

Immediately after I.O.U.'s release, Van Halen guitarist Eddie Van Halen brought Holdsworth to the attention of Warner Bros. Records executive Mo Ostin. Van Halen had previously enthused about Holdsworth in a 1980 issue of Guitar Player magazine, saying "That guy is bad! He's fantastic; I love him", and that Holdsworth was "[t]he best, in my book". This resulted in the Warner Bros. release of Road Games in 1983. It was produced by longtime Van Halen executive producer Ted Templeman, and received a Grammy Award nomination in 1984. Holdsworth, however, has always disliked the EP because of various creative issues which arose with Templeman. At the time, the latest incarnation of the I.O.U. band consisted of drummer Chad Wackerman (who would become a regular Holdsworth bandmember for the next three decades) and bassist Jeff Berlin. Former Cream singer Jack Bruce provided vocal duties, as well as a returning Paul Williams.

Having relocated permanently to Southern California and acrimoniously parted ways with Warner Bros.  Holdsworth signed to Enigma for the 1985 release of Metal Fatigue (along with the aforementioned I.O.U. reissue). It was at this time that Flim & the BB's bassist Jimmy Johnson joined the band and, like Wackerman, has remained a consistent bandmember to this day. Making his last appearance on vocals was Paul Williams, with whom Holdsworth claims to have fallen out due to the selling of live bootlegs by the former. The Atavachron album in 1986 was a landmark, in that it was the first to feature Holdsworth's work with a brand new instrument named the SynthAxe. This unusually designed MIDI controller (albeit not a guitar synthesizer) would become a staple of Holdsworth's playing for the next fifteen years, during which he would effectively become the public face of the instrument. The next year saw a fourth album, Sand, which featured no vocals and showcased further SynthAxe experimentation. A second collaboration with Gordon Beck followed in 1988, with With a Heart in My Song.

In the late 1980s, Holdsworth set up his own recording studio—The Brewery—in San Diego, California, which would become one of the recording locations for all of his studio albums beginning with Secrets (1989) and throughout the 1990s. In a 2005 interview, however, he stated that he no longer owned the studio following his divorce in 1999. The aforementioned Secrets introduced pianist Steve Hunt, who went on to play keyboard on two further albums, and as a member of Holdsworth's touring band.


A collaboration in 1990 with fellow fusion guitarist Frank Gambale came about in the form of Truth in Shredding, an ambitious studio project put together by Mark Varney (brother of Shrapnel Records founder Mike Varney) through his Legato Records label. In December of that year, following the death of Level 42 guitarist Alan Murphy in 1989, Holdsworth was recruited by the band to play as a guest musician during a series of concerts at London's Hammersmith Odeon. With former I.O.U. partner Gary Husband now being the drummer for Level 42, these factors all led to Holdsworth contributing guitarwork on five tracks on their 1991 album, Guaranteed. Holdsworth's first solo album of the decade was 1992's Wardenclyffe Tower, which continued to feature the SynthAxe but also displayed his newfound interest in self-designed baritone guitars (built by luthier Bill DeLap). With the release of Hard Hat Area in 1994, Holdsworth's touring band for that and the following year was composed of Steve Hunt, Gary Husband and bassist SkĂșli Sverrisson. A collaboration in 1996 with brothers Anders and Jens Johansson resulted in the experimental, rock-laden Heavy Machinery. In the same year, he was once again joined by Gordon Beck on None Too Soon, which featured fusion-based interpretations of a selection of his favourite jazz standards.


The decade began positively with The Sixteen Men of Tain in 2000, but it turned out to be Holdsworth's last album recorded at The Brewery. Immediately afterwards, he abruptly slowed down his solo output due to events within his personal life. A pair of official live albums, All Night Wrong and Then!, were released in 2002 and 2003, respectively, along with a double compilation album, The Best of Allan Holdsworth: Against the Clock, in 2005. His eleventh album, Flat Tire: Music for a Non-Existent Movie, was released in 2001 and remains his most recent studio effort. According to Holdsworth, a new studio album entitled Snakes and Ladders was slated for a 2008 release on guitarist Steve Vai's Favored Nations label, but as of 2011 this has not come about. Further new material featuring Chad Wackerman and Jimmy Johnson was also said to be in the works. In a 2010 interview, he again claimed to have enough material for two albums, which he planned to begin recording after a show in Tel Aviv, Israel.

Throughout the latter half of the decade, he toured both North America and Europe extensively, and has played as a guest on albums by numerous artists: most notably with former Dream Theater keyboardist Derek Sherinian on Mythology (2004) and Quantum (2007); the latter with Sherinian's progressive metal group Planet X. In 2006, he performed with pianist Alan Pasqua, Chad Wackerman and bassist Jimmy Haslip as part of a live tribute act in honour of late drummer Tony Williams. A DVD (Live at Yoshi's) and a double album (Blues for Tony) were released in 2007 and 2009, respectively. Throughout 2008–2010, he toured with drummers Terry Bozzio and Pat Mastelotto, and bassist Tony Levin as HoBoLeMa, a supergroup playing improvised experimental music.

Compositions and style

Holdsworth's solo compositions are primarily instrumental, but vocals were prominent on all his 1980s albums except Sand and Wardenclyffe Tower. Two of his most recurring singers were Paul Williams (featured on I.O.U., Road Games and Metal Fatigue) and Rowanne Mark (Atavachron and Secrets). Additionally, he himself sang on 'Igginbottom's Wrench and The Things You See. In his early career he occasionally played violin (on Velvet Darkness, Sunbird, The Things You See and I.O.U.) and acoustic guitar (on Velvet Darkness, U.K. and Metal Fatigue), but claims to not be proficient at the latter; this is due to it being percussive, and hence a lack of desire to play such an instrument.

He has a distinctive playing style that involves a strong scalar sense, combining elements of jazz and progressive rock. The harmonic structure of his pieces is highly advanced, with frequently shifting tonal centres and unique combinations of keys and modes. His phrasing almost always features striking yet subtle transitions between notes that are both consonant and dissonant, with wide and unpredictable intervallic leaps. Whilst soloing, he predominantly uses various legato techniques such as slides, hammer-ons and pull-offs (the latter being a personalised method which works more akin to a 'reversed' hammer-on), all of which result in an extremely fluid lead sound. One of the reasons for his renowned emphasis on legato, as opposed to picking, stems from a desire to make the sound between picked and legato notes indistinguishable. Another of his most identifiable traits is the use of rich, fingerpicked chords (often awash with delay, chorus and other complex effects), which are articulated and sustained using volume swells to create sounds reminiscent of the horn and saxophone. He has said that he prefers both of the aforementioned to the guitar, which was not his first choice of instrument upon receiving one from his father when beginning to play. It was because of this unfamiliarity with the guitar, combined with attempting to make it sound more like a saxophone, that he originally began to use legato without realising that it was not a common method of playing at the time. Furthermore, he was influenced greatly by such saxophonists as John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderley, Michael Brecker and Charlie Parker, whilst some of his favourite guitarists were Django Reinhardt, Joe Pass, Wes Montgomery, Jimmy Raney, Charlie Christian and Hank Marvin.


Over the course of his career, Holdsworth has worked with many different guitar manufacturers in a lifelong quest to evolve his unique sound. From the late 1960s and through to his time spent with Tony Williams in the mid-1970s, his main instrument was the Gibson SG. He then switched to playing custom Fender Stratocaster guitars that were modified with humbucker pickups. He continued to play this type of design in the early 1980s, developing custom models with Charvel and Jackson that feature on I.O.U. and Road Games. In 1984, he developed his first signature guitars with Ibanez, known as the AH-10 and AH-20. These instruments have a semi-hollow body made from basswood with a hollow cavity underneath the pickguard, and can be heard on Metal Fatigue and Atavachron. In 1987, he began his long association with Steinberger guitars, which are made from graphite and carbon fibre, and distinctively have no headstock. With designer Ned Steinberger, he developed the GL2TA-AH signature model. In the 1990s, he started playing customised headless guitars made by luthier Bill DeLap, including an extended-range baritone model which had a 38-inch scale length. However, he now only owns one of the latter instruments (with a 34-inch scale). He has also developed a line of signature guitars with Carvin, including the semi-hollow H2 in 1996 and the completely hollow HF2 Fatboy in 1999.

On his 1986 release, Atavachron, Holdsworth first recorded with the SynthAxe; a fretted, guitar-like MIDI controller with keys and string triggers instead of a strung neck, and a tube that dynamically alters note volume and tone via breathing (similar to a talk box). Sound-wise, he uses patches which are mainly Oberheim synthesizers, as he considers them to be "great sounds". Although he has used the SynthAxe on all his solo releases since Atavachron, and still enjoys using his two remaining ones in the studio, he says he no longer wishes to make it such an integral part of his playing—especially live—mainly because of it being so rare, and difficult to maintain and repair as a result.

Personal life

Holdsworth has lived in California permanently since the early 1980s, and often mentions cycling as one of his favourite pastimes. He is also a keen aficionado of beer, with a particular fondness for Northern English ale. Such is his taste for ale that he went as far as experimenting with brewing his own in the 1990s and inventing a specialised beer pump—"The Fizzbuster"—which, in his own words, creates "a beautiful creamy head". He has three children with ex-wife Claire named Louise, Samuel (named after Allan's father) and Emily; three of whom live in Southern California. He has a daughter from his first marriage to Angela Slater named Lynne, who resides in England.


Studio albums

•    1976: Velvet Darkness
•    1982: I.O.U.
•    1983: Road Games (EP)
•    1985: Metal Fatigue
•    1986: Atavachron
•    1987: Sand
•    1989: Secrets
•    1992: Wardenclyffe Tower
•    1993: Hard Hat Area
•    1996: None Too Soon
•    2000: The Sixteen Men of Tain
•    2001: Flat Tire: Music for a Non-Existent Movie
•    2005: The Best of Allan Holdsworth: Against the Clock (compilation)

Live albums

•    1997: I.O.U. Live
•    2002: All Night Wrong
•    2003: Then!

Collaboration albums

•    1980: The Things You See – with Gordon Beck
•    1988: With a Heart in My Song – with Gordon Beck
•    1990: Truth in Shredding – with Frank Gambale/The Mark Varney Project
•    1996: Heavy Machinery – with Jens Johansson and Anders Johansson
•    2009: Blues for Tony – with Alan Pasqua, Chad Wackerman and Jimmy Haslip (live double album)

Other album appearances

•    1969: 'Igginbottom's Wrench – 'Igginbottom
•    1972: Belladona – Nucleus
•    1973: Tempest – Tempest
•    1975: Bundles – Soft Machine
•    1975: Believe It – The New Tony Williams Lifetime
•    1976: Million Dollar Legs – The New Tony Williams Lifetime
•    1976: Gazeuse! – Gong
•    1976: Capricorn Princess – Esther Phillips
•    1977: Re-Touch & Quartet – John Stevens
•    1977: Enigmatic Ocean – Jean-Luc Ponty
•    1978: Expresso II – Gong
•    1978: Feels Good to Me – Bruford
•    1978: U.K. – U.K.
•    1978: Live In Boston – U.K.
•    1978: Touching On – John Stevens
•    1979: One of a Kind – Bruford
•    1979: Time is the Key – Pierre Moerlen's Gong
•    1979: Sunbird – Gordon Beck
•    1980: Conversation Piece – John Stevens
•    1981: Land of Cockayne – Soft Machine
•    1983: Individual Choice – Jean-Luc Ponty
•    1983: Retouch – John Stevens
•    1984: Transatlantic – Jon St. James
•    1986: Soma – Soma
•    1986: Change of Address – Krokus
•    1986: Fast Impressions – Jon St. James
•    1988: Radio Free Albemuth – Stuart Hamm
•    1988: If This Bass Could Only Talk – Stanley Clarke
•    1988: No Borders – Carl Verheyen
•    1988: The Distance Between – Strange Advance
•    1989: Attack of the Neon Shark – Alex Masi
•    1989: A Question of Time – Jack Bruce
•    1989: Guitar's Practicing Musicians – various artists
•    1990: Silent Will – Andrea Marcelli
•    1990: Blue Tav – Steve Tavaglione
•    1991: Love in Peace – Paz
•    1991: Forty Reasons – Chad Wackerman
•    1991: Guaranteed – Level 42
•    1992: Lone Ranger – Jeff Watson
•    1993: The View – Chad Wackerman
•    1993: Come Together: Guitar Tribute to the Beatles – various artists
•    1995: Suffer – Gongzilla
•    1995: Oneness – Andrea Marcelli
•    1995: Worlds Away & Back – Strange Advance
•    1996: Stare – Gorky Park
•    1997: From Your Heart and Your Soul – Steve Hunt
•    1997: Blue Tav – Steve Tavaglione
•    2002: Pray for Rain – Atlantis
•    2003: BBC Radio 1971-1974 – Soft Machine
•    2003: Abracadabra – Soft Works
•    2004: Sonic Undertow – Riptyde
•    2004: Mythology – Derek Sherinian
•    2004: Book of the Dead – K2
•    2005: Nebula – David Hines
•    2005: Anthology: Under the Blossom – Tempest
•    2006: Deconstruction of a Postmodern Musician – Corrado Rustici
•    2006: Floating World Live – Soft machine
•    2007: Prowlin' – Dan Carlin & Friends
•    2007: Quantum – Planet X
•    2007: The Acatama Experience – Jean-Luc Ponty
•    2007: Rock Goes to College – Bruford
•    2008: Progasaurus – Chris Buck
•    2008: Everyone Knows My Drinking, No One Knows My Thirst – Eric Keyes
•    2009: Highway Star – Snew
•    2009: The Early Years – Paul Korda
•    2009: Propensity – John Stevens and Danny Thompson (originally recorded in 1978)
•    2010: Dirty & Beautiful: Volume I – Gary Husband

VHS video releases

•    1992: REH Instructional: Allan Holdsworth (guitar instructional, reissued on DVD format in 2007)
•    1997: Drums & Improvisation – Gary Husband (Holdsworth is interviewed and contributes to three songs)

DVD video releases

•    2002: Live at the Galaxy Theatre
•    2005: Carvin: 60 Years in the Making (features an extended interview with Holdsworth, amongst others)
•    2006: Rock Goes to College – Bruford
•    2007: Live at Yoshi's


•    Reaching for the Uncommon Chord. Hal Leonard. 1987. ISBN 978-0-634-07002-0. Transcriptions and
 sheet music.
 •    Just for the Curious. Warner Bros. 1994. ISBN 978-0-7692-2015-4. Transcriptions, sheet music and
 accompanying CD.
 •    Melody Chords for Guitar. Centerstream. 1997. ISBN 978-1-57424-051-1. Reference tables and diagrams.

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