Stories From The Road

I started to film and produce interviews with the great guitar players that played in, and contributed to my Guitar Heroes show because I wanted to know what it takes to make a great musician.

With each interview I’d conduct I discovered that there was something unique, curious or extraordinary about the path that each of them took to become the great players that they were.

Stories like Tim Farris telling me that his father started him with classical guitar lessons when he was young…

or Tommy Emmanuel buying all of Chet Atkins records and learning every note off those recordings…

or Dave Hole’s story that he busted up his arm which is why he played slide guitar over the top, unlike any other slide guitar player!

My Book Pick Of The Week…

Recently I read Roy Howat’s book “The Art Of French Piano Music, Debussy, Ravel, Faure, Chabrier”.

Howat is one of the worlds great authorities on these great French composers and his book is an in depth survey of their music.

I love his description of his book’s purpose.

In the introduction he states that his book “may provide the hope that we can hear and play the music with the inner fire that made the composer want to write it”.

In history there have been periods of enormous creative outbursts, especially Paris in the late 1800’s and into the early 20th century and that’s the period that Roy Howat’s is describing in his book.

(Howat’s book) “may provide the hope that we can hear and play the music with the inner fire that made the composer want to write it”

Roy Howat

It spawned the Impressionist painters and the impressionist composers – like Debussy and Ravel, who in turn sparked the inner flame in others.

The 1960’s in London and New York was another period of creative excitement.

This Is Why Hendrix Brings Out The Best In Us.

I remember hearing an interview with the noted American composer John Adams when he said that in the late 60’s he was listening to Coltrane and Hendrix.

So they sparked his ‘inner fire’ and of course so many other people’s, which is why I chose many of Jimi Hendrix’s songs to record in my “Guitar Heroes” project.

The music of Hendrix is the perfect vehicle to bring out the best in a great player. I think we matched the perfect song with the perfect ‘guitar hero’ when I asked Jim Kelly to guest on “Little Wing” which is the clip we’re presenting here.

Jim Kelly had a Stella career and is one of Australia’s most respected guitar players.

His band “Crossfire” was enormously successful, he was even invited to play at the Montreaux Jazz Festival which may be the the biggest and most prestigious music festival in the world.

Apart from Crossfire, Jim played behind singers like Kerry Biddell, Rene Geyer and Michael Franks.

He was a very in demand session guitarist doing everything from jingles through to pop records and soundtracks.

So much experience! And I got to interview, play live and record with Jim.

At the end of the interview I asked Jim if he’d jam with me, we filmed it and that’s the footage we used in the video clip for “Little Wing”.

The Marvel Of Little Wing And It’s Modern Day Influence.

The song “Little Wing” is really something special and is certainly one of the highlights of the Rock era.

It was covered by so many but for me the stand outs are Eric Clapton and Stevie Ray Vaughn. I wanted to capture something of both of those versions when I recorded it with Jim and of course Jim’s solo is an absolute gem!

I play slide on the recording in contrast to Jim’s stylish and tasteful phrasing.

The guitar intro to “Little Wing”, as Hendrix played it, is Hendrix at his creative best but there is also a great back story to his astonishing approach and style of chord playing that Hendrix employed in songs like “Castles Made Of Sand” and “Little Wing”.

I play it as close to Hendrix as I can.

Early in his career Hendrix played with Curtis Mayfield and after watching Mayfield up close Jimi said:

“he was a really good guitarist. I learned a lot in that short time. He probably influenced me than anyone I’d played with up till that time”

but that was before he heard Eric Clapton, that’s another story for another day…

I did spend time checking out Curtis Mayfield, he is great! and we can certainly see the influence he had on Jimi Hendrix.

But then again… it’s a marvel to see what Hendrix did with the few licks he took from Mayfield transforming them into a whole genre that bands like “Red Hot Chilli Peppers” would later pick up and run with.

Steve