Five years after his passing, guitarist Bill Hart remembers the legendary Allan Holdsworth.
I started studying guitar in 1975. In 1977 I moved from Canada to the United States. As I continued to study guitar, I was exposed to Jeff Beck. It completely changed my course as a guitar player. From that point on I dedicated my life to being a fusion guitarist. I would listen and study every jazz/fusion player on the scene. I really felt like I was growing as a musician. My theory knowledge was above average, I knew my scales and played several challenging tunes as well as gigging.
I was living in Los Angeles in the mid 80’s when guitar was at its peak. Then along came Allan Holdsworth. He was the untouchable. Everything I thought I knew about music went out the window. By this time, I was good friends with several top fusion guitar players in Los Angeles. Including Jeff Berlin who played bass for Holdsworth. When Jeff would do bass clinics, I was fortunate to back him on guitar supporting his bass examples. Of course, in private I would question him, digging for the inside scoop on Holdsworth. He said he had his own way of writing charts, not in a traditional way. Jeff would have to interpret his chart. Holdsworth was so advanced even his chart writing was one of a kind. I saw Holdsworth play a half a dozen times. I was fortunate to meet him a few times. As well. I was respectful and didn’t ask him much about what he was doing. He was very reserved and seemed very shy. I was just grateful to be in his presence.
The first album I was exposed to was Metal Fatigue. The solo on the song “Devil take the Hindmost” completely knocked me off my chair. I worked on that solo for several years. Steve Vai did a transcription of it in Guitar World. I immediately went out and bought every album of Allan Holdsworth and followed him for the rest of his career. Later years I discovered a little bit about what he was doing. He occasionally used first inversions and had a massive reach on the neck of the guitar. Both in his chordal structure and in his solos. He could play a perfect fourth with ease. The way he would move the melodies within the harmony holding the low and high string in one place was completely mind blowing. He brought guitar to a completely higher level. Allan passed away April 15th, 2017, his legacy will live on forever. R.I.P.
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