The Birth Of Guitar Heroes And My Dream Of “The Australian Guitar Players Hall Of Fame”
Recently we were looking through some of the old live footage from the “Guitar Heroes” shows that we’d filmed and we all agreed that people should be able to see it.
So what was the “Guitar Heroes” about?
I’d worked hard at my music, I’d studied with some great teachers and I’d achieved my A.Mus.A & L.T.C.L. for Classical Guitar.
I’d studied with Ike Isaacs and even went to New York to have lessons with Bucky Pizzarelli for Jazz.
Thoroughly enjoying my teaching and of course doing gigs, I was making a living with my guitar but I got to the point where I wanted to explore the music that I grew up listening to, today we call it “Classic Rock”.
So Clapton, Hendrix, Led Zepplin, Santana, Deep Purple, of course the Beatles and Rolling Stones but I wanted to do it with the best Australian guitar players and musicians.
My goal was to record a series of CD’s, perform concerts and then interview the great guitar players that participated – to make it the Australian guitar players “Hall of Fame”.
That was my vision and it’s still a work in progress!
Duane Allman (The Allman Brothers Band) “Statesboro Blues”
The song in this clip is “Statesboro Blues” which I learnt from the Allman Brothers Band “Live At The Filmore East”.
I play Duane Allman’s slide guitar part pretty much note for note, although I do it in standard tuning.
Duane’s slide guitar lines and solo for “Statesboro Blues” is the most influential slide guitar performance ever recorded.
It is such a powerful statement, the perfect and most appropriate platform to feature Phil Emmanuel’s master class, on how to play a “blues” as high art.
There’s a story as to why I chose “Statesboro Blues”…
Duane Allman was one of my favourite guitar players and one of my personal heroes.
The Allman Brothers Band was one of America’s all time great bands with a heavy accent on improvisation. Duane’s playing was the driving force behind the band, particularly his slide playing – the “Hendrix” of the slide guitar.
Eric Clapton had an enormous regard for Duane and even asked him to play on his album “Derrick & The Dominos”, “Layla”, so all that great slide guitar playing on “Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs” was Duane Allman.
The two guitar legends were introduced by Tom Dowd the great recording engineer and producer who was producing “Layla” at the time.
Tom Dowd is another great story!
The (Brief) Story Of Tom Dowd And The “Manhattan Project”
During WWII he was a very talented physics student at Columbia University.
His professor asked young Tom to be his assistant on a top secret project which turned out to be the “Manhattan Project” which developed the bomb that was dropped on Japan.
When the war ended, Dowd was not allowed to continue his Physics degree because the American Government thought he knew too much… so they didn’t want him passing any of his experience on to anyone. It was top secret!
Dowd thought then that he’d like to follow his passion for music especially Jazz & Blues.
Tom Dowd was behind recordings by some of the greatest musicians of the 20th century from Ray Charles and John Coltrane through to Eric Clapton and Duane Allman.
How he introduced Duane and Eric is a very entertaining story which I must share with you sometime (in another blog)
The Basement Performance With Phil, Mike and Mal
Playing with Phil Emmanuel was always an experience, so to stretch out with him on “Statesboro Blues” was a real personal highlight for me.
I did many gigs with him after this one at the Basement, which was the first – he was always an inspiration.
You played better because he was on stage, just his presence lifted you and made you play at your best.
I flew him down from QLD for the Basement gig and he’d just gotten off the plane to jump up on stage with us.
We had Michael Smith on bass who was playing with the “Atlantic’s” at the time and Mal Green from “Split Enz” on drums.
With Phil Emmanuel guesting with us, that has to be a part of history.
The night was the launch of “Guitar Heroes” Volume 1 which Mal Green produced and of course working with Mal was a great experience; I would say that he was a mentor for me at the time.
I’ll never forget his stories about his time with Split Enz…