It’s very sad to hear of the passing of legendary guitarist Alan Holdsworth. On Easter Sunday April 16th, 2017, Alan Holdsworth’s daughter sadly announced the passing of her Father. The announcement was made via social media. Alan Holdsworth was seventy years old at the time of his passing.
Everyone knows that one great guitar player in their neighborhood or school who usually plays at a level of musicianship above everyone else. Chances are if you ask that great guitar player to name the guitar players that inspired their playing, the name Alan Holdsworth will stand at the top of their list. Alan Holdsworth was a musician’s favorite. Holdsworth’s guitar playing defined the word original. No one sounded like Alan Holdsworth. Many rock fans first discovered the musicianship of Alan Holdsworth through his work in the late 1970’s progressive band U.K. It was a band founded by the legendary drummer Bill Bruford who was also a founding member of the progressive rock band Yes. Alan Holdsworth’s guitar playing in the band U.K. helped create a legion of fans that would follow Holdsworth’s entire career.
Alan Holdsworth and Bill Bruford would work together on several different projects. Eventually Holdsworth would begin a solo career in which he released twelve solo albums. His first solo album was released in 1983. The album entitled Road Games was produced by Ted Templeman who had garnished much fame producing the great early Van Halen records. Alan Holdsworth would go on to win a Grammy in 1984 for his first solo album. In 1985, Holdsworth released one of his all time great records titled Metal Fatigue. For this writer, Holdsworth’s Metal Fatigue Album was the records that spurred many rock fan’s interest in fusion music. The guitar playing rocked, but there was a depth to it that many people had never heard before. It was for many, a groundbreaking record that crossed musical genres and enticed fans of both sides to cross the street.
Every Alan Holdsworth album would feature some of the greatest rock and jazz artists of the 20th Century. All the great rock fusion guitarist wanted to work with Holdsworth. One of his most exciting projects was the work Holdsworth did with guitarist Frank Gambale. The group also featured Tom Brechtlein on drums and Jimmy Earl on Bass. The project which was produced by Mark Varney was a killer exploration in fusion guitar riffs and solos exchanged between two powerhouse musicians.
In the mid 1980s, a new interface called MIDI was developed in order to help synthesizers communicate with each other through the process of 0s and 1s.(computer bytes) Basically it was a non-audio communication protocol. It enabled synths to send note on and off information along with pitch bend and volume controls. It was not a perfect technology, but it was groundbreaking at the time. Alan Holdsworth utilized the technology by employing an instrument called a SynthAxe. It was basically a guitar that could connect to a synthesizer. Alan Holdsworth’s original utilization of the SynthAxe into his compositions and guitar playing was just another example of the man’s brilliance and contributions to 20th Century music.
Alan Holdsworth’s passing is a tragic loss to the musical community. He was a true inspiration for so many musicians.
Our heartfelt condolences go out to his family .
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