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.


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

    Comment number 122.


    Bert Its what got me started, annoying everyone

    Thank you so much

  • rate this

    Comment number 121.

    Another one here who learned my first chords from his book.
    Any "early-teen" snootiness that Bert was a bit "uncool" was soon dispelled by the obvious respect of musicians I met over time.

    I can't comment on the removed posts, I didn't see them, but I don't find 91 and 92 "offensive" as such. Churlish and mean-spirited yes, but why give trolls the attention they're seeking anyway?

  • rate this

    Comment number 120.


    You have not been given the chance to comment on a persons death. You have been given the chance to comment on a persons achievements during his life, to celebrate his life, abilities and achievements. It's rather negative of you to think it's about death.

    By the way, why pick a steam engines number as your site name, do you come from Brentor?

  • rate this

    Comment number 119.

    'uncle Bert' a wonderful man a generous kind person a sad loss condolences to Maggie and family.

  • rate this

    Comment number 118.

    RIP Bert. A great guitarist who could make his instrument do his talking for him. First saw him live at The Ace of Clubs nightclub in Leeds, a night never forgotten. A real legend who will be missed by many.

  • rate this

    Comment number 117.

    Yep, God Bless you, Bert - I too launched my guitar playing with your book... best thing I ever did in my life, because the pleasure of forever playing and learning transcends everything else...

  • rate this

    Comment number 116.

    I vividly remember when at school I, along with most of the rest, selected him for our artist of the week at morning prayers. Wrongly we were over ruled as he was pop. RIP, you were one of the few pop stars I actually liked listening to!

  • rate this

    Comment number 115.

    I used to watch my Mum do a little jig when his guitar music came on the radio..........oh if only I could turn the clock back 50 years to watch her dance again, Bert you made a lot of people very happy, may you rest in peace

  • rate this

    Comment number 114.

    The guitarists' guitarist, the man who started it all for so many - all the preceding comments say it all. I often wondered, over the years, whether he would have been better remembered if he had changed his name for stage purposes to something a little less prosaic; we shall never know. But his "Play in a Day" book remains legendary, and he was a prolific recording star. Give him a listen...

  • rate this

    Comment number 113.

    I started as a 9 year old in 1961 and was mainly self taught. but one of the first things I learned was "Guitar boogie shuffle"...Thank you Bert..Rest in peace.

  • rate this

    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.

  • rate this

    Comment number 111.

    My sincere condolences to Ollie, Fred and Pussy Cat Willum...

  • rate this

    Comment number 110.

    Like so many my pals and i learned guitar from Bert weddon books

    Probably the first guitarist i ever heard and I still play the weedon way

  • rate this

    Comment number 109.

    It certainly did take longer than a day and I think Bert would agree.

    The 1950's guitar strings were like barbed wire when compared with super silky elastic bands of today.
    It took 6 months just to get the essential finger tip callouses.

    R I P ...Bert

  • rate this

    Comment number 108.

    Re 105: Yes, strange isn't it? You do have to wonder at BBC moderators; a few days ago, I had a comment removed because I called the Shadow Chancellor by his name - Ed B**ls.

    Anyway, RiP Bert. In an era of undeserved superlatives, you were a Great. Thanks for showing so many the way.

  • rate this

    Comment number 107.

    it's a pity take that and the rest of the so called super stars did'nt feel the need to know who was bert weedon. some of the greats give him the nod off respect(no not mike read) proper musicians who know how to play, the real deal rest easy bert.job done..

  • rate this

    Comment number 106.

    .My dad said after watching top of the pops in 1964 " you can do better than them" referring to mr michael Jagger as he was then "go out and get yourself a guitar." I bought a rubbish guitar in the same music shop in Beaconsfield and Play in a Day. I didn't do as well as Mick but gave a lot of people earache but myself huge pleasure. Bye Bert and Dad and thank you..

  • rate this

    Comment number 105.

    Bert really was an extraordinary man responsible for the talents of those like Eric Clapton to flourish. It is rather odd that the HYS moderators allow the offensive comments of 62. chrislabiff, 92. BR34095, and 91. Bob Webster to stand and anyone who takes issue with them to have their comments removed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 104.

    I learnt to play from "Play in a Day" (remember "Tavern in the Town!!") 50 years ago and went on to play professionally in the 60s until the early 90s. Thanks Bert. RIP.

  • rate this

    Comment number 103.

    91.Bob Webster & 92.BR34095

    May I suggest a good cheddar or brie...


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