In praise of the unreal Allan Holdsworth

By Steve Newton A few days ago I posted my 1986 interview with Allan Holdsworth on the Facebook group The unReal Allan Holdsworth. With over 16,000 members, the page offers “everything pertaining to his music, his history, his friends and the influence he’s had on the music scene and on guitarists.” One of the comments on … Continue reading In praise of the unreal Allan Holdsworth

That time Allan Holdsworth told me about his connections to Eddie Van Halen and Ted Templeman

By Steve Newton If you were reading the top guitar magazines back in the early ’80s you may have heard the buzz about this phenomenal British player named Allan Holdsworth. A lot of the buzz was being generated by one Eddie Van Halen, who was touting Holdsworth’s abilities whenever he got a chance. Right around … Continue reading That time Allan Holdsworth told me about his connections to Eddie Van Halen and Ted Templeman

That time Allan Holdsworth told me that a lotta people love the things that he hates…like his old band U.K.

By Steve Newton Since I got “temporarily” laid off from work yesterday–after 35 years with the Georgia Straight newspaper in Vancouver–I’ve been wondering which of my hundreds of old interviews I should digitize next. Then I figured that the one with guitar legend Allan Holdsworth from 1983 should take precedence because apparently cassette tapes don’t … Continue reading That time Allan Holdsworth told me that a lotta people love the things that he hates…like his old band U.K.

That time Allan Holdsworth told me that he didn’t really like playing to guitar players

By Steve Newton In the single week since his death last Saturday, Allan Holdsworth’s name has probably been heard about as many times as it was during his entire life. Outside of the guitar cognoscenti, the pioneering jazz-fusion player has been shamefully overlooked, so much so that he’s had to struggle for years just to … Continue reading That time Allan Holdsworth told me that he didn’t really like playing to guitar players

That time guitar phenomenon Allan Holdsworth told me that he originally wanted to play sax

By Steve Newton If you’re a certified guitar freak, you’ve no doubt already heard the sad news of Allan Holdsworth’s passing. The pioneering British prog-jazz virtuoso has passed away at the age of 70. Yesterday I posted an audio excerpt from the interview I did with Holdsworth back in 1986, in which he talked about … Continue reading That time guitar phenomenon Allan Holdsworth told me that he originally wanted to play sax

That time Allan Holdsworth told me that he still struggles to pay the rent every month

By Steve Newton The guitar world is in mourning today as word of the death of Allan Holdsworth spreads. The British musician died of unknown causes at the age of 70, his daughter Louise posting the news on her Facebook page. I’m not gonna try and explain how phenomenal a player Holdsworth was; you can … Continue reading That time Allan Holdsworth told me that he still struggles to pay the rent every month

Humble guitar master Allan Holdsworth always struggles to pay the rent

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, JULY 4, 1986 By Steve Newton Today he’s regarded by critics and musicians alike as one of the most distinctive guitarists in the world. He’s been the principal soloist for the likes of U.K., Gong, Bill Bruford, Soft Machine, Tony Williams’ Lifeime and Jean-Luc Ponty. And he’s one of … Continue reading Humble guitar master Allan Holdsworth always struggles to pay the rent

Guitar phenom Allan Holdsworth says he’s not impressed by flash

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, NOV. 11, 1983 By Steve Newton Eddie Van Halen calls him “fantastic”. Gary Moore says “he’s frightening. He’s definitely dangerous and getting better all the time.” Carlos Santana gives him “more credit than anyone for just pure expression in soloing.” Journey’s Neil Schon says: “If you play guitar and … Continue reading Guitar phenom Allan Holdsworth says he’s not impressed by flash

That time the Ventures’ Don Wilson and I shared our fondness for John Fogerty

By Steve Newton John Fogerty proudly inducted the Ventures into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008, but I learned of his affection for the instro-rock legends years before that. When I interviewed original Ventures rhythm-guitarist Don Wilson back in 1997 I asked him if he’d had a lot of people tell him … Continue reading That time the Ventures’ Don Wilson and I shared our fondness for John Fogerty

That time Randy Hansen told me about exchanging ideas and creating animal sounds with Stevie Ray Vaughan

By Steve Newton When I interviewed Jimi Hendrix tribute artist Randy Hansen back in 2001 I learned that he had known Stevie Ray Vaughan quite well. I was cool to hear Hansen reminisce about Stevie Ray opening shows for him in Austin, Texas, and the two of them creating animal sounds on guitar. Have a … Continue reading That time Randy Hansen told me about exchanging ideas and creating animal sounds with Stevie Ray Vaughan

That time I made Gordie Johnson’s day by telling him that Bruce Fairbairn admired his production work

By Steve Newton It’s fun to pass on compliments sometimes. Like when I was interviewing Big Sugar frontman Gordie Johnson back in October of 1998. A couple weeks earlier I’d interviewed famed Vancouver producer-to-the-stars Bruce Fairbairn, who’d mentioned that he was impressed by the production on Big Sugar’s latest album, Heated. When I told Johnson … Continue reading That time I made Gordie Johnson’s day by telling him that Bruce Fairbairn admired his production work

That time I told Tony Iommi that “Supernaut” was my fave Black Sabbath riff, and he said that it was Zappa’s too

By Steve Newton I’ve interviewed Tony Iommi, the Riffmaster General, twice: the first time was back in ’84 when the Ian Gillan-fronted Black Sabbath was touring behind the Born Again album, and the last time was in 2007 when he was back with Ronnie James Dio in the Heaven and Hell format. As the second … Continue reading That time I told Tony Iommi that “Supernaut” was my fave Black Sabbath riff, and he said that it was Zappa’s too

That time Warren Haynes told me how he came to record the haunting “John the Revelator” on Gov’t Mule’s Dose

By Steve Newton I’ve interviewed Warren Haynes six times, because he’s one of my favourite musicians of all time. I can’t get enough of his voice, his guitar, and his songs. And even if they aren’t his actual songs I’m crazy about ’em. Like when Gov’t Mule recorded the traditional gospel-blues tune “John the Revelator” … Continue reading That time Warren Haynes told me how he came to record the haunting “John the Revelator” on Gov’t Mule’s Dose

That time I asked Yes guitarist Trevor Rabin whether Steve Howe was a hard act to follow

By Steve Newton Way back in April of 1984 I interviewed Trevor Rabin, who at the time was the new guitarist in Yes. The band was on a world tour supporting its latest album, 90125, which had spawned the hit single “Owner of a Lonely Heart” and was topping the charts. At one point in … Continue reading That time I asked Yes guitarist Trevor Rabin whether Steve Howe was a hard act to follow

That time I asked Albert Lee how it was different touring with the Everly Brothers than with Eric Clapton

By Steve Newton I interviewed British guitar legend Albert Lee back in July of 1986, when he was touring with the Everly Brothers as their musical director. After chatting with Albert about how he first got involved with the Everlys, I asked him how it was different touring with them than with Eric Clapton, whose … Continue reading That time I asked Albert Lee how it was different touring with the Everly Brothers than with Eric Clapton

That time Jason Bonham told me that his famous father in Led Zeppelin was “just dad to me”

By Steve Newton When I did my first interview with Jason Bonham back in 1989, I asked him what it was like growing up with a father who was world-famous for being the drummer in Led Zeppelin. Turns out it wasn’t that big of a deal to him. Have a listen: To hear the full … Continue reading That time Jason Bonham told me that his famous father in Led Zeppelin was “just dad to me”

That time Joan Jett told me that it was the power of the people that made “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” a hit

By Steve Newton When I interviewed Joan Jett back in 1992 she was touring behind her Notorious album, which, while not a bad album, wasn’t exactly racing up the charts. Jett explained to me that it didn’t help that the record wasn’t getting much promotional push from Sony, the major label handling distribution. Then she … Continue reading That time Joan Jett told me that it was the power of the people that made “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” a hit

That time I asked Robert Cray if he was surprised that Eric Clapton covered his song “Bad Influence” on August

By Steve Newton I’ve interviewed Robert Cray four times, ’cause I reckon he’s one of the tastiest guitarists who’s ever strapped on a Strat. This was the first time, back in January of 1996, when he was touring behind his Some Rainy Morning album. Ten years earlier Cray had gotten a bit of a boost … Continue reading That time I asked Robert Cray if he was surprised that Eric Clapton covered his song “Bad Influence” on August

That time I asked Edgar Winter about his old pal Rick and his big brother Johnny

By Steve Newton The best musicians always try to surround themselves with the best musicians. For Edgar Winter that wasn’t hard. When he was born he already had a big brother named Johnny waiting at home, and they would become close musical collaborators throughout their lifetimes. Another hugely talented player that Edgar hooked up with … Continue reading That time I asked Edgar Winter about his old pal Rick and his big brother Johnny

That time Tony Carey told me that he thought “The First Day of Summer” was going to break his new album wide open

By Steve Newton Way back in May of 1984 I interviewed Tony Carey, who I’d been a fan of since I heard him playing keyboards on Rainbow’s colossal Rising album of 1976. At the time of our chat he was promoting his new solo album Some Tough City, which was doing well on the charts … Continue reading That time Tony Carey told me that he thought “The First Day of Summer” was going to break his new album wide open

That time Ian Hunter told me that what sells Ian Hunter is Ian Hunter–or what doesn’t sell Ian Hunter is Ian Hunter

By Steve Newton Mott the Hoople is one of my all-time favourite bands, and Ian Hunter is one of my all-time favourite rockers. I interviewed him and Mick Ronson separately on the same day–September 9, 1988–when they were headed to Vancouver for a show in advance of recording their awesome 1989 album YUI Orta. At … Continue reading That time Ian Hunter told me that what sells Ian Hunter is Ian Hunter–or what doesn’t sell Ian Hunter is Ian Hunter

That time Alex Van Halen told me how early on he discovered the fascinating power of live music

By Steve Newton We’ve all heard the old joke before: “What do you call somebody who hangs around with musicians? A drummer.” I think it’s fair to say that drummers don’t always get the credit they deserve. I haven’t interviewed that many over the years–for the simple fact that I prefer talking to guitarists–but some … Continue reading That time Alex Van Halen told me how early on he discovered the fascinating power of live music

That time I asked Joe Satriani who his best guitar student was and he said Steve Vai caught on the quickest

By Steve Newton Back in January of 1990 I did the first of my seven interviews with Joe Satriani. At the time he was touring behind his latest album, Flying in a Blue Dream, and the buzz about him was growing fast. People were learning that he’d spent several years as a guitar instructor, teaching … Continue reading That time I asked Joe Satriani who his best guitar student was and he said Steve Vai caught on the quickest

That time I called up 22-year-old Jeff Healey and asked him about his role in the upcoming bouncer flick Roadhouse

By Steve Newton I was fortunate enough to have interviewed Canadian guitar wizard Jeff Healey three times. Man could that guy wail on the Strat! The first interview took place in June of 1988, when he was just 22, and still three months away from releasing his incredible debut album, See the Light. When I … Continue reading That time I called up 22-year-old Jeff Healey and asked him about his role in the upcoming bouncer flick Roadhouse

That time Richie Sambora told me why Bon Jovi switched producers from Bruce Fairbairn to Bob Rock

By Steve Newton Bon Jovi may have been hugely popular back in the day, but I actually enjoyed guitarist Richie Sambora’s solo debut album, Stranger in This Town, more than any Bon Jovi band release. I even preferred Sambora’s lead vocals over Jon Bon Jovi’s, especially on solo tunes like “Ballad of Youth”. So it … Continue reading That time Richie Sambora told me why Bon Jovi switched producers from Bruce Fairbairn to Bob Rock

That time 18-year-old Kenny Wayne Shepherd told me about meeting his idol Stevie Ray Vaughan

By Steve Newton I’ve interviewed Kenny Wayne Shepherd four times, ’cause I’m a sucker for folks who can play the shit out of a Strat. The first time was back in December of 1995, when he was only 18 and touring behind his platinum-selling debut album, Ledbetter Heights. At one point in the conversation I … Continue reading That time 18-year-old Kenny Wayne Shepherd told me about meeting his idol Stevie Ray Vaughan

That time I asked Justin Hayward if he knew the Moody Blues’ “Nights in White Satin” was special as soon as it came to him

By Steve Newton As April Wine once said, “I Like to Rock”. I like to rock as well, but once in a while a beautiful, gentle ballad is, as Ted Nugent once said, “Just What the Doctor Ordered”. But enough about April Wine and Ted Nugent. This little blog’s about a softer-rockin’, more prog-oriented band … Continue reading That time I asked Justin Hayward if he knew the Moody Blues’ “Nights in White Satin” was special as soon as it came to him