Saturday, April 21, 2012

Influential guitarist Bert Weedon dies

Influential guitarist Bert Weedon, best known for creating the popular tutorial manual Play In A Day, has died aged 91.

Eric Clapton, Paul McCartney and Brian May are among the stars who learned to play guitar from his books.

Born in east London, in May 1920, he had been ill for some time and died at his home in Beaconsfield, his friend John Adrian said.

He was awarded an OBE in the 2001 Queen's Birthday Honours List for his services to music.

Queen guitarist Brian May said: "He will be so sadly missed by all his friends because he is one of the most generous and giving people I have ever met in my life.

"He was always teaching people, privately and publicly. You know, he didn't have any secrets from anyone and he was so supportive to us all."

He added: "There's not a guitarist in Britain from my generation who doesn't owe him a great debt of gratitude."

Singer and guitarist Joe Brown described Weedon as "a lovely man and a great inspiration to many British guitar players, including myself, in the early days".

He added: "My heart goes out to his lovely wife Maggie and the family."

Speaking to BBC News, radio presenter Mike Read said: "He was the guy who showed you how to play a guitar. Everybody bought his Play In A Day book, it was a big deal.

"He became the daddy of British guitarists and he inspired generations of schoolboys to play. His book enabled them to do just that, which was fantastic."

Aged 12, Weedon picked up his first guitar after convincing his father to buy him a second-hand one from a London market.

As an orchestral guitarist in the post-war big band era, and a session man on countless dates playing anything from jazz to rock and roll, Weedon's abilities were in constant demand. He worked with the best bandleaders, backed Britain's chart-topping crooners and lent guitar 'hooks' to many a pop classic. You've probably heard him a thousand times without even knowing.

But Bert may be best remembered as a teacher. As well as co-presenting kids' TV shows during the 1950s and early '60s, where his relaxed style taught early learners that included most of the UK's subsequent guitar elite, he also penned the best-selling guitar tuition book of all time.

With 'students' that number Eric Clapton, Brian May, Sting, Pete Townshend, John Lennon, Paul McCartney and countless others, Weedon could well be described as the most genuinely influential guitarist of all time.

As a child, he studied classical guitar - a grounding which later enabled him to play any genre of guitar music at sight.

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