Radio 2 announces season of shows celebrating the guitar

These programmes will provide an in-depth and fascinating look at the guitar as only Radio 2 can. Over the next few months, we will explore its impact on popular culture and its importance to all music genres - from folk to country, rock to classical and beyond.Bob Shennan
Date: 15.05.2014     Last updated: 19.05.2014 at 16.25
Category: Radio 2
BBC Radio 2, the Radio Academy Station of the Year 2014, has today announced a season of shows celebrating the guitar.

The season will include a number of documentaries and features across the schedule, including live music performances, an audience vote for the all-time favourite guitar riff, and a variety of additional online content.

Bob Shennan, Controller, BBC Radio 2, 6 Music, Asian Network and Director of BBC Music, said: “These programmes will provide an in-depth and fascinating look at the guitar as only Radio 2 can. Over the next few months, we will explore its impact on popular culture and its importance to all music genres - from folk to country, rock to classical and beyond.”

The season starts with the Scotty Moore Story (Monday 19 May, 10pm-11pm). Scotty Moore was Elvis Presley’s right hand man on stage and in the studio. Scotty pioneered the role of guitar in pop music with solos that inspired and influenced generations of guitar heroes. To mark the 60th anniversary of the first time Scotty recorded with Elvis at the legendary Sun Studio in Memphis, American musician Chris Isaak - who has been a fan of Elvis’s singing and Scotty’s playing since he bought his first Sun Records single - journeys to Memphis to meet Scotty and find out more about him.

Ken Bruce hosts a special guitar-themed edition of Friday Night Is Music Night (recorded at the Hackney Empire, and broadcast on Friday 23 May, 8pm-10pm). Guests include jazz guitarist Martin Taylor, folk guitarist Martin Simpson and classical guitarist Miloš Karadaglić. The BBC Concert Orchestra will perform iconic guitar themes including Monty Norman's 007 theme, Apache by Jerry Lordan, and the theme to the BBC drama Edge Of Darkness written by Eric Clapton and Michael Kamen. Folk meets jazz in a guitar collaboration between Martin Taylor and Martin Simpson and the evening ends with a performance by Miloš of the only classical guitar concerto to make the UK top ten - Rodrigo's Adagio from his Concierto d'Aranjuez.

In Bert Weedon: The Teacher Of Rock and Roll (Monday 26 May, 10pm-11pm), Richard Hawley tells the story of how Bert Weedon, one of Britain's most important, and yet, least celebrated guitar heroes, taught a nation to fall in love with the guitar. Not only had he been one of Britain's first rock 'n' roll guitarists, but through his 'Play In A Day' tutor book he taught millions of people how to play. Rock 'n' roll devotee and fellow guitar obsessive Hawley charts Bert's story - from buying his first guitar for about 75p to recording hits like 'Guitar Boogie Shuffle' and 'Apache' and working with the likes of Frank Sinatra, Richard explores how Bert helped put the guitar centre stage in British music.

Johnnie Walker presents The Carol Kaye Story (Monday 2 June, 10pm-11pm) in which he meets the legendary session guitar player herself. He hears her incredible story which has seen her partake in over 10,000 recording sessions throughout the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, first on guitar and then on bass. The programme provides a glimpse into the recordings of some of the biggest hits of all time. Carol tells the story of the early hits with Sam Cooke, and also talks about working with Phil Spector and the intense recording schedule of the Beach Boys album 'Pet Sounds'. Listeners will hear how she became renowned for her creative flair and invention of memorable bass lines to hits like Glen Campbell’s 'Wichita Lineman' and Sonny and Cher’s 'Beat Goes On'. The programme celebrates Carol Kaye’s story and the influence her playing has had on the way we hear the bass guitar in popular music today.

Johnnie says: “The Carol Kaye Story is one of the hidden gems of the Radio 2 Guitar Season. Very few people know her name yet she played guitar and bass on an estimated 10,000 LA studio sessions and helped create some of the greatest records ever made. One of the most recorded musicians of all time, Carol has made a massive contribution to popular music. I hope that her story on Radio 2 will go some way to giving her the long overdue public recognition she so richly deserves.”

David Quantick gives the story of the guitar the Blagger’s Guide treatment in Blagger’s Guide To The Guitar (Monday 9 June, 10.30pm-11pm). With examples and exaggerations, the programme will put a humorous twist to complement the other programming.

In The Spirit Of Flamenco (Monday 16 June, 10pm-11pm) Paco Peña, one of the world’s greatest flamenco guitarists and the first musician to be made a professor of flamenco, goes on a personal journey to explore how the religion and music of southern Spain have impacted on one another to create one of the most infectious sounds of world music. He delves into the spiritual side of flamenco and explores how faith impacts on this vibrant musical style and how they inspired his great Flamenco Mass which has been performed in his home city of Cordoba at the famous Mezquita-Catedral. He also visits the gypsy communities in Andalucía that gave birth to flamenco, which for them is as much a way of life as a musical style and he talks to them about “duende” – the soul of flamenco.

Suzi Quatro presents Kalamazoo Gals (Monday 23 June, 10pm-11pm), in which she tries to unravel the mystery of the Kalamazoo Gals - quite possibly, the greatest craftswomen written out of American guitar history. Legendary stringed instrument maker Orville Gibson began making guitars, mandolins and violins in the Michigan town in 1896. After his death in 1918 the business expanded - producing a wide range of instruments that were popular with musicians for their quality and tone. But as America was drawn into teh Second World War, Gibson said their workforce stopped producing guitars and concentrated on making parts for radar equipment and aircraft wings to support the nation’s war effort. Suzi discovers that this wasn’t the case and reveals how an all-female workforce made over 25,000 instruments including 9000 guitars. The programme meets some of the women who worked in the Gibson factory in the 1940s and hears their stories.

In Girl On Guitar (Monday 30 June, 10pm-11pm), BBC Radio 6 Music presenter Cerys Matthews pays her own personal tribute to Joni Mitchell – one of only two women to have made it onto Rolling Stone Magazine’s 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time. Cerys’s celebration is helped along with contributions from folk singer Judy Collins who had hits with Joni’s ‘Both Sides Now’ and ‘Circle Game’, synth-pop producer Thomas Dolby who worked with Joni in the 80s and musician Max Bennett who toured with Joni and was with her when she recorded her earlier albums. There are also contributions from TV and radio producer Trevor Dann who profiled Joni for the Old Grey Whistle Test and musicians Jennifer Crook and Eddi Reader. The programme celebrates her talent and includes reflections on how she writes her songs and why she has been such an influence on other artistes.

Cerys says: “Only two women make it in the top 100 Rolling Stone Magazine's Greatest Guitarists of all time - Joni Mitchell is one of those two and it makes for a fascinating journey, delving into the life and times of one of music's most idiosyncratic characters, one who prides herself on making up her own rules in both in her songwriting and in her life in general.”

London's Tin Pan Alley: Danny Baker's Musical History Tour (Monday 7 July, 10pm-11pm) will offer a colourful guide to the pivotal role Denmark Street has played in guitar music history – from the advent of rock 'n' roll in the 50s through today. Behind almost every door on this iconic London street, presenter Danny Baker discovers an amazing story - as told by the many well-known musicians he bumps into on his journey. He speaks to former Rolling Stone Bill Wyman and former Sex Pistol Glen Matlock.

Former Denmark Street regular, Donovan, performs the specially written track ‘Tin Pan Alley’ and recounts tales of David Bowie sleeping in his tour van parked outside overnight. Plus Marty Wilde tells of how he bought the first ever Les Paul Gold Top guitar to surface in the UK, after the legendary Sister Rosetta Tharpe put it up for sale in one of the street’s guitar shops. Suede’s Bernard Butler also shares his love affair with the street’s guitar shops. Along the way, Danny uncovers the fascinating Denmark Street connections with many more guitar legends such as Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton and The Who’s Pete Townshend. Plus he also discovers how many of today’s musicians are helping keep the street’s musical legacy.

Arguably the biggest guitarist of all time, the most recorded player ever, the man who's been on more hits than anybody else in music history is the focus of Harold Bradley (Monday 14 July, 10pm-11pm). Harold started playing sessions in 1946, and since then has averaged between 10 and 15 a week. He played on every record Patsy Cline ever made and was on all Roy Orbison's hits, all of Jim Reeves' records and on "Stand By Your Man". The programme tells Harold's story with contributions from his famous clients and features Harold discussing his style and recreating some his most famous sessions, played in the studio that they were originally recorded in, using the same guitar and amp.

Gary Kemp presents Mick Ronson - The Man With The Golden Guitar (Monday 28 July, 10pm-11pm) - a programme originally broadcast in April 2013 to mark the 20th anniversary of the death of his guitar hero Mick Ronson. The programme features archive of Mick and David Bowie plus fellow Mick Ronson fans Tony Visconti, Ian Hunter, Lou Reed, John Mellencamp and Chrissie Hynde. Gary explores why Mick is such an important figure in British rock 'n' roll, highlighting the important contribution he made to some of the most acclaimed albums in rock history and why his talent deserves to be celebrated.

Over the years the BBC has played host to some of the greatest guitarists of all time. And Guitar Greats @ The BBC (Monday 4 August) will showcase the very best performances - from Jimi Hendrix to Jimmy Page, George Harrison to Keith Richards and Johnny Marr to Jonny Greenwood, all drawn from exclusive BBC live sessions and interviews.

When 12 year Bernard Jewry (who went on to find fame as Alvin Stardust) was given a three quarter sized Spanish guitar by his parents which cost just over £1, little did he know that if that guitar could talk what a story it could tell! Luckily Alvin was with the guitar every step of the way and in The Peggy Sue Guitar (Monday 11 August, 10pm-11pm), Alvin tells the story of how Peggy Sue came to be signed by such rock 'n' roll luminaries as Buddy Holly and The Crickets, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Billy Fury, Marty Wilde and Chuck Berry. Alvin will take listeners back to his days as a 12 year old and how he ended up 'jamming' with Buddy Holly, to being backstage at the Royal Albert Hall and on the same bill as The Beatles, on stage with Eddie Cochran and Gene Vincent as well as Johnny Kidd's brush with a boxing promoter. Three quarter size Peggy Sue has lived to tell the tale and is now valued at over £1 million pounds.

Anatomy Of A Guitar (Monday 18 August, 10pm-11pm) brings together music and science, charting the evolutional battle of the guitar against rival instruments such as the lute, the ukulele and the banjo to become the dominant beast in the world of music. The programme will discover how it adapted to survive in such diverse environments as folk music circles, smoky jazz clubs, electrified stadiums and even the dark foreboding depths of the teenage bedroom. The programme delves into the physics of a guitar, dissecting some classic models to learn how they're able to create their unique sounds. What treatments does a tree have to go through to become the curved body of a guitar? What's the difference between gut strings and nylon?

And as the grand finale to the Guitar Season, Radio 2 will be counting down its own chart of Rock's Greatest Riffs as voted for by the listeners. A Top 100 riff long-list will be selected by a panel of music experts and will include riffs from the 1950s to the present day. Listeners will get the chance to cast their vote and have their say before the Top 100 is revealed on air on Monday 25 August. The show, which is being produced by Wise Buddah, will include contributions from artists and BBC presenters commenting on their favourite riffs, plus archive material from Radio 2 that will help tell the story of the riff’s creation and the impact it’s had on the history of guitar music.

Scotty Moore Story is a TenAlps production

Bert Weedon: The Teacher Of Rock And Roll is a TBI Media production

The Carol Kaye Story is a Folder Media production

Blagger’s Guide To The Guitar is a Unique production

Girl On Guitar is a Made in Manchester production

London's Tin Pan Alley: Danny Baker's Musical History Tour is a Somethin' Else production

Mick Ronson - The Man With The Golden Guitar is a Ten Alps production

The Peggy Sue Guitar is a Unique production

The Top 100 Countdown is a Wise Buddah production