Influential guitarist Bert Weedon dies

 

Bert Weedon speaking to the BBC in 2008

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.

Analysis

Bert Weedon's contribution to the guitar world cannot be overstated.

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.

Great demand

He began his career in showbusiness working with Ted Heath, Mantovani and The Squadronnaires, before becoming a featured soloist with the BBC Show Band.

As a solo guitarist, he had many hits, including Guitar Boogie Shuffle, Apache and Nashville Boogie. In 1976 he became the first solo guitar player to top the Official Top 40 album charts with 22 Golden Guitar Greats.

He was later in great demand with stars such as Sir Cliff Richard and Tommy Steele.

Weedon also accompanied artists such as Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Rosemary Clooney, Nat King Cole and Judy Garland.

Bond composer David Arnold paid tribute to Weedon on the micro-blogging site Twitter saying his passing was "sad news".

He added: "Learned my first chords from Play in a Day."

Stars have previously paid tribute to the musician, thanking him for helping them to learn the guitar.

Radio presenter Mike Read: Weedon was an 'inspiration for so many'

"Thank you for all those tips on guitar playing that I got from your book, when I was young," Clapton said.

Queen guitarist Brian May called him a "legend" and thanked him for "spreading the guitar and your enthusiasm to all of us".

Sir Paul revealed that both he and George Harrison used Weedon's manuals to learn the chords D and A, and John Lennon admitted he began playing the guitar using Play in a Day.

The Cure, meanwhile, wrote a short instrumental called The Weedy Burtons, which featured as a hidden track on their debut album Three Imaginary Boys in 1979.

"I'd taught myself to play a bit by reading Bert Weedon's Play In A Day books using my older brother's guitar," said Robert Smith. "It's a sort of tongue in cheek tribute to Bert."

The tutorial book begins with simple illustrations of acoustic and electric guitars, before showing the reader how to hold the instrument.

The first pieces of music for the student to learn include Bobby Shaftoe, Jingle Bells and When the Saints Go Marching In.

Eventually, the book sold more than 1 million copies, with translations available in dozens of languages.

 

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  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 139.

    A really great man and one who will never be forgotten as long as there are guitarists around! Not only a real talent, but an inspiration to so many, including some of the greatest. He was also a really good man. Thanks for the music Bert, thanks a million!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 138.

    I used to work in a shop in Beaconsfield and it was such a pleasure seeing Bert walk in. He was a genuine people person, always ready with a smile and a kind word to brighten the day. And he had such an incredible memory for detail, after not seeing each other for months, Bert would remember what we'd last spoke about and pick up as if it were just yesterday. A wonderful man and he will be missed.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 133.

    To class Bert Weedon as "influential" is a little weak as he inadvertently created a generation of guitar players.
    No one else could boast that they have achieved that.
    God bless you Bert,

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 123.

    I knew Bert via an Uncle who was very close friend of his for over 35 years. he was so kind, he used to send me photos etc and best of all his unique square plectrums through the post, as a 12 years old budding guitarist, incredible, considering his influence on so many legendary guitarists. Best of all though, was meeting him in person, he was a charming lovely man. RIP Bert.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 112.

    To my generation, he was the right man in the right place at the right time. Thank you, Bert. May you rest in peace.

 

Comments 5 of 11

 

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