Monday 23 April 2012

Britain is a country which says "Goodbye" to Bert Weedon and old guitarists say "Thanks" to the 'Wizard' who taught them to play

Last week the 'Gaurdian' obituary page carried :

Bert Weedon, guitar teacher to a generation, dies at 91

Eric Clapton and Paul McCartney were among the stars who learned their skills using musician's 'Play in a Day' books
Bert Weedon
Inspiration: Weedon's first Play In A Day book was published in 1957 and the books have since sold in their millions
Bert was the creator of the popular 'Play in a Day' guitar tuition books and  accomplished player in his own right who accompanied stars such as Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland and Nat King Cole during a long career in music.. 

What you possibly didn't know about Bert, that he :

* taught Eric Clapton, Paul McCartney and Brian May of Queen how to pluck at the strings of their guitars using his books, which sold in their millions.

* was born in East London in 1920, persuaded his father to buy him his first 75p guitar in London's Petticoat Lane market when he was 12 years old and initially learned classical guitar.

* in his teens during the 1930's,  led groups such as the 'Blue Cumberland Rhythm Boys' and 'Bert Weedon and His Harlem Hotshots', before making his first solo appearance at East Ham Town Hall in 1939.

* worked with leading performers including Stephane Grappelli and George Shearing and performed with  big bands and orchestras, including those of Ted Heath and Mantovani.

* started a solo career which saw him sell millions of records and score a top ten hit with 'Guitar Boogie Shuffle' in 1959 then  with the birth of rock'n'roll,  regularly played on record hits by stars including Tommy Steele, Adam Faith and Billy Fury.

* first published his first 'Play in a Day' book in 1957 and  was a major influence on Brian May, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, John Lennon, Keith Richards, Pete Townshend and Jimmy Page.

* was a stalwart member of the show business charity. the 'Grand Order of Water Rats', and awarded an OBE in the 2001 Queen's birthday honours list for 'Services to Music'.

Had the musicians say of him  :

Tim Burgess, frontman of 'The Charlatans : "Practice hard, all the time – Bert Weedon might be gone but his advice should never be forgotten."

Brian May of 'Queen' :  that he was the first major British electric guitarist and "It is hard to imagine what life was like in those days. There was hardly any British rock music or even pop music, and there was hardly anyone in England that knew about the electric guitar. Everyone from Eric Clapton to Jimmy Page, they would all say the same thing – that Bert was the first and we all loved the man. There were no secrets, he had lots of techniques that he could have kept to himself but he shared them."

* Paul McCartney : "George and I went through the Bert Weedon books and learned D and A together."

* Eric Clapton : “I wouldn’t have felt the urge to press on without the tips and encouragement Bert’s book gives you. I’ve never met a player of any consequence that doesn’t say the same thing.”

ert on stage :

Playing 'Albatross' :

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