Allan Holdsworth full interview - life, music, bands, guitars

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beautiful man







awesome man how how did you first decide

that you wanted to play music did you

grow up the musical family kinda dated

sorry I shall I did yeah I

my father was a my father is a really

great musician is kind of player text

and he studied classical music and there

was a big jazz fan so he had all all of

these records lying around even way way

before I could even think about learning

how to read or anything I just hear all

this stuff and I used to be able to find

you find these records just by the

scratch marks on the labels and anything

you know I'd be able to identify which

record I was going to hear and he was

really really amazing with his hands

overall he's a fantastic artist great

painter great caricaturist would work he

was a fantastic carpenter used to make

all the toys around and he made me my

first record player side in that so he

wouldn't have been messing with his yeah

he didn't trust me with something but so

I had all this music and I loved it and

I couldn't understand why I'd listen to

something I'd start feeling like I

wanted to cry you know there's like no

what's going on and he plays something

else I'd feel kind of a happier every

night I just got all these feelings from

music you know and so I never ever ever

thought about playing a musical


I just wanted to be someone who loved it

because I just loved what it was doing


it was many many years later when I

stayed becoming interested in wanting

the player like a whore and a saxophone

because I started listening to a lot of

saxophones on because there was a lot of

saxophones on his wreck you know his

records but saxophones were pretty

expensive back then so I ended up with a

guitar and all I did was stand in front

of the mirror with it pretending I was

Elvis pleasantly or something you know I

didn't really have any interest in the

guitar only something I could blow you

know I didn't want a percussive

instrument he tried to interest me in

the piano and I'd I just felt so alien

to me like it and I and when I hear

these great musicians playing it it's so

beautiful and I love the sound of it but

it wasn't for me you know I couldn't get

anything out of it and I guess he left

the guitar around long enough I started

noodling with it because I realized I

wasn't going to get a saxophone so but I

never thought about ever being a

professional musician it never crossed

my mind and I absolutely did not start

learning how to play the guitar because

I want to pick up girls

so it's art now when you found that you

had an accident R and you started

playing in different bands I mean how

how does one go from sitting in their

bedroom to you know getting to the point

we're playing some of the local bands in

town even that as far as where it seemed

to be a bit of an accident because I

would remember going to these bars my

dad would take me in the pubs because

there was a lot of music in pubs back in

those days like light music and he would

take me to these and I was pretty tough

alized I got a midget now you know how

everybody's six foot seven now you know

six foot one was pretty tall back then

so he would take me to all these pubs

and I start introducing me to the

musicians I remember I used to get like

kind of really excited seeing all these

little ants lineup and everything but

back in the old days when they only had

like these little tiny combos and stuff

and he just would introduce me to the

the guys and then my father would kind

of start blowing my trumpet you know

you're going well he plays guitar you

know and that's how it started then and

I'd get a couple of auditions and then I

after about six months I ended up

planing a couple of local bands and in

there was one band that came to the

house and said well we're a professional

band in you want we want you to cut come

and play with us and like professionally

I was very like it to me then

being a complete imbecile I've been that

way ever since

also I was going no wait a minute this

can't be right you can't you can't make

money out of music Kenny so I didn't do

it but then I started working in these

different jobs bicycle shop the basket

works making baskets

I like that job actually it was good and

then a few mill jobs and then I met this

other guy who played in the band and he

offered me a banding this top-40 guy

called Glen south and that was my first

kind of real professional kind of get

paired to play gig you know and it was

really good because even though it was

pop music I got to build practice during

the day so it was a really really good

really good time I did that for about

five years even less than that maybe

three or four years and then threw a

saxophone player called ray Wallach who

came up with a Musicians Union tour to

Sunderland which is where I was playing

or actually Newcastle local in

neighboring towns and then we went to

the or you know went to like a little

Jam and they said oh you can bring your

instrument so I took my guitar and then

after I played that they you know a

couple of the guys came up to me so they

give us your phone number and then this

one guy ray said I have a spare room at

my flat so if you ever feel like you

want to come to London you can stay

there for free so about six months went

by and I just kept doing the top 40

thing in then I decided I picked up the

phone and I called him I said hey do you

remember me goes yeah I should also off

I went and that was it

to London history pretty much

including me haha now the what the first

record you need was a yeah I did some

things before that bar not gonna admit

to any of them because to me the first

album they did was tempest they'll stick

to that come on here we go my name no I

tell you something that I wasn't on just

for the record even though Donovan says

I was I never ever played on hurdy-gurdy

back it's not me

I've seen that in so many guitar

magazines you know that I played on that

track including one caught from sposa

weed all of them that I did I did not

unless I was so drunk I don't remember

it you know but I didn't play on was

interesting because I think I just

finished I was working with Tony

Williams I came over to play with Tony

which was obviously one of the

highlights of my life to work with such

great great musicians and that's how I

met Allan Pasqua you know unbelievable

and Tony Newton so it was a great thing

for me but financially fell apart you

know and the Kalam ended up getting

stranded in San Francisco and I saw my

guitar to get back home and then I had a

manager at that time called Nicholas

Powell and he was one of Richard

Branson's partners in the Virgin thing

and he introduced me to these guys Gong

he said wow we should try putting a

guitar in this band and thought I would

played with him and that I enjoyed it it

was really great I mean they were they

were good players it was interesting

really interesting to vibe reforms drums

bass guitar it was a great nice

combination and it was really good why

remember about that band

no offense to any of the guys is that

after a while if they get going you know

like the French you know the kind of

maybe similar like a good argument I've

seen they gain to these ferocious

arguments and it would all be in French

you know I couldn't speak French so I

just I just that would be my time that I

could just leave and go to the pub and

maybe all going up Italy now hopefully

we all over when I got back though it

was a good experience and through the

ear acquaintance with the French no

actually that was earlier my hookup with

jean-luc was after I played with Tony


apparently he heard the recordings that

I've made with Tony and through his

manager Michael Davenport at that time

he contacted he company found me somehow

and asked me if I'd like to come over

and do this album with him which was the

enigmatic ocean record and I did that

you know obviously it was a great

pleasure and in order to do that because

I he's a really amazing musician and I I

really really like him as a guy I mean

he was just very nice to me so I like

it's always nice to work with people

really nice to you know they're too many

Buddy Rich stories are very how you

digging it

yeah I'm digging it do you though you

all issue last night I thought that

album was my name

opinions that probably his finest album

I my favorite album which one well I

liked you too especially for the time

and it's really interesting for me to

look back at you know to see what was

going on and everything's the way the

sounds has changed and everything yeah I

enjoyed it you know you're listening to

stuff let me go oh man like oh ouch so

then you have to think well it was when

he was you know now which came first

people Bruford solo album or UK actually

bills album came first for me if I'd met

bill a few times that I had a couple of

small groups I used to play with in

London various little pubs around and I

used to see bill there and then he

approached me one day and we live close

together he was living in Richmond at

the time and I was living in Kingston

which is pretty close together and he

said like if you want to get together

and like play a little bit or whatever

and he was working on an album but there

was no deterrent Lee at that point which

was the feels good to me album and I

just kind of came in as a session guy

really you know I just was hired to play

some guitar on it and then I guess he

was getting involved with the UK the UK

thing so then they obviously bill

approached them and said hey if you want

to adding guitar player we spend maybe

you should think about Alan because he

played on my solo album so they played

him and stuff in the other Eddie and

John seemed to think it was okay so and

that's how I got the gig with them and

we did that UK album and get some

touring with them and then after that

John and Eddie and Bill and I went our

separate ways and then I ended up doing

Bill's second album one of a kind which

was actually a group at that point it

wasn't I wasn't actually hired as it

just someone to play the guitar was

actually a member of the band you know

but let's just after that I guess I just

kind of started getting the urge to have

my own band and I had all this backlog

of music and I just wanted to do that

and then I ran into Gary husband I met

Gary husband and that was it and when I

when I played with that guy it was game

over I'm good I want to play with that

guy but then so we did and then we

couldn't get arrested you know we can

get a gig that's how we came up with the

name I owe you because he used to cost

us to play how much you want for us to

come and play your place yeah and I'm

not kidding that so it was but I owe you

at least you want

can we play your place now if Gary Gary

obviously went off in a different

direction with chair how did that happen

laughing because we all lived in England

the whole band was English and the Paul

Williams was living in California who's

married to an American girl so they

lived in Tustin you know so when we

first came over we were all kind of

hanging out at Paul's house so then we

did a lot of gigs you know we go we got

gig at the Keystone clubs in San

Francisco that the people along the

Keystone Club booked is up there for one

night through mic Valley it was a big

family like Valley was instrumental in

getting us our first gigs in California

he would contact all these clubs and say

I know you've never heard of these guys

but I'll guarantee you that you'll do

pretty good business so we went and they

were kind of really really happy with

what happened cuz we went from playing

these pubs in London to like ten people

to like 250 to 500 people in a small

club which is you know which is to us it

was like huge you know so and then each

one of these Club the club owners would

call another club owner that club owner

called the guy at Roxy who said I know

you've never owned these guys

give me getting the same thing so I went

well maybe I don't want to go home but

so after he basically I stayed there and

Gary and Paul went back to England

Paul Paul Carmichael the bass player and

then I went through this kind of semi

horrendous setup with Warner Brothers

which Eddie Van Halen who's a wonderful

guy it was really really nice guy great

player and he set us up with the people

at Warner Brothers and he got was a deal

but unbeknownst to me they really didn't

want me to do what I wanted to do but I

really didn't know that at the time you

know it came later so that's how Chad

and Chad chuggin Jeff came into the

picture because they were they were here

yeah so it was like now I still play

with Gary when we go to Europe when if

he's not busy you know and but to do

local gigs if the guys on the other side

of the world it makes it a lot more

difficult so they were just a logistic

thing I didn't know Frank yeah I met

Frank actually through Chad because Chad

was working with him and I got invited

to his house and he was always really

really nice to me I love that guy and we

all miss it yeah else yeah but yeah he

was something else

I think mostly not from receiving stuff

in the mail I think it was more from

people excuse me people that have had a

relationship with the company you know

and they couple of friends friends of

mine that were acquainted with him took

me to the to the oldest factory many

years ago maybe like 20 years ago I mean

then they ladies or whatever yeah I

can't even count anymore

those a while ago and that's how I first

became aware of Calvin and I was always

convinced to the Equality of their stuff

you know and most people think you know

well if it's less expensive it's not as

good than actual facts if that by the

time you bought a guitar from a factory

that's got a name on it by the time it's

gone from the manufacturer to the

wholesaler to the retailer to the store

like guitars like good it cost a

fraction of what it takes to make one of

these days and yet this will come in you

know a lot better quality for a lot less

money overall and I just found that

looks like most companies but you don't

have to like everything but if there's

something that you really really dig

then that's what you know that's what

that's the stuff I'm really using I

approached them a few years ago now at

least six years ago or something and

because I was getting most of my stuff

custom-made but because the guitar

builder is amazing guitar builder but

he's a lot like me too slow you know he

doesn't get anything done and being it

getting old now you know you need to

take out a life insurance policy before

you can order a guitar so the last one

took a while so that's how excited I

went to cabinets could you make me a

guitar that just just make me guitar

I'll pay for it you know there's no no


like I just want you to make me you

can't they said sure and then they said

later on you know well if we make the

guitar and you really like it can we can

we manufacture it and sell it you know

as opposed to it just being a one-off

for two or three details for me and I

said sure and

essentially what happened or you are

when it came time to design your guitar

okay how does one go about that and what

is that what exactly were you looking

for when you put that together well I

was looking for something that was

basically very similar to what I was

already having made by custom guitar

builder so it wasn't really that hard

it wasn't like had to start with a brand

new concept for it you know basically it

was a semi hollow guitar and just your

sound that I like you know they do much

more to me they have a lot more dynamic

range than the you know specialist using

distortion when a guitar with a solid

body just it's just the way it is you

know I think anybody who's ever played a

semi whole guitar knows about anyway you

know like the guys who play three thirty

fives or any guitar that's got a hollow

body it's a different thing well the fat

boy actually was what I wanted them to

the way I wanted it to be built in the

first place but because it was kind of a

learning curve and an experiment you

know we started with this guy which is

hollow but basically it's a solid body

guitar where the body is hollowed out

and then he has a top on it and this

guitar is there's a top Anna back so I

could put my hat if there was Mel back

on top of that you put your hand right

through it and the bracing of the guitar

goes like two little ideas and run down

the center of the guitar and no part of

the top except it from behind the bridge

touches the wood that's on the inside on

the front or the back so it's pretty

flexible and it has a you know that kind

of more hollow characteristic to the

sound which I like I'm going to figure

out a way to cut their head off though

I'm the big head to expand but I'm

talking to Mike about that new design

that changes the time the reverberation

from the body itself

yeah because essentially what it does is

when you've got a hollow a guitar

actually slows down it slows the kind of

slows down some of the tight doesn't

slow down the initial attack you slows

down everything else so it becomes more

dynamic you know you can play a note

softer and even with the destoyed sound

and still get that kind of dynamic

dynamic quality - yeah definitely the

only thing with this is obviously

because the fat by constriction it was

difficult to put the stock kind of

tremolo on it would have to do something

with kind of more customized

so the fat boys don't have the vibrato

bars on them which is okay you don't

need it on everything anyway you get a


yeah I do i user I love their power-ups

a couple of their processes they made

but there it was it's kind of old

I know even though I hate those anymore

but mostly the power amps have another

console and I'm a smaller console that I

use for some mixing some synthesizers

and but mostly the guitars and the power

apps essentially that can be 1,000 I

love that thing it's great all right

well it was a it's a really cool idea

because you've designed for keyboards

and so has multiple inputs which is not

normal for a power you know and I just

thought oh maybe I could experiment

blending different amplifiers together

at the power amp you know so yeah it's a

real really interesting amplifier and I

love the way it sounds and as I do with

all of their power on so you know what

parents are great yeah they are compound

or usually but they're great I they just

sound good yes the comments that I'm

getting from all these people that I've


is that the cars and stuff it's so

robust and just never had any problems

yeah I've never done any problems

well the time to remind us you know well

you know something that an ally is going

to show all out you know around anyway

you might you might have a problem with

anyway but you know those guys play

football with it the most fragile

stickers on it you put the building and

beat it up like you PS that's man I got

so many so much stuff from UPS I feel

like I hate to rag on UPS but of all the

equipment this Everdene said to me my

whole life there's a 50/50 chance that

if you get it from UPS is going to be


so it's something fragile I don't

usually do that maybe they can fix that

holes that sorry mother ouch

dan haren it is we're going to wrap it

up soon I won't talk about car in the

company it's been my experience that you

know the guys genuinely care and they do

treat everybody whether you're a little

words or Joe Schmo from Des Moines you

get get good attention

attention to detail a bunch of guitar

players working there it's hard to go

wrong everybody that everybody that I've

come in contact with Calvin is being

absolutely fantastic you know and it's a

family-owned family-run business

my relationship with Mark and all the

stuff he's done

I didn't annoy the CNC Machinists all

the time I told him that I wanted to

change something you know

okay guys are not that guy again he's

going to change something and but no

it's been an absolute pleasure you know

it's been my absolute pleasure to work

needs being absolutely great can ask for

more you know news for anybody to have

that kind of relationship with it

there's very few companies that I've

ever been involved with there maybe one

or two others but I've never

it's definitely being a wonderful

experience for me so thank you guys at

this point in your career you obviously

to play maybe you are know let's go Cal

do that I don't expect ever to be able

to do that either coming up in in a

quick sentence I'm asking everybody the

same question with so many choices out


white harvest well like I said didn't

lie my thing was because I had something

a distinct idea about what I wanted and

I approached them because I knew that

I'd really like my friend bunny Brunel

came over to my house one time and he

showed me his bass and I was blown away

with it I mean I it looked amazing you

know in the workmanship and everything I

was looking at my god this cacao is

beautiful and he goes man you should

talk to them because they right down the

street at that time before they moved

and that's when I got the idea that

maybe these guys can build me a really

nice guitar I just go over there and

talk to them and that's why I did so it

was it was easy for me

I just had an idea of what I wanted that

I've seen the quality and and I know

many many years so it was the you know

obvious thing for me to do so that's why

I gave and here they are 577 00:30:00,880 --> 00:00:00,000 hey we all are