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Allan Holdsworth

Guitarist Allan Holdsworth was widely considered one of the finest instrumentalists in all of jazz fusion, yet never truly received the recognition that he so rightfully deserved. Born on August 6, 1946, in Bradford, Yorkshire, Holdsworth was originally taught music by his father, who was a pianist. He didn't pick up the guitar until he was 17 years old, but learned the instrument quickly. After playing in local outfits (and learning the violin), Holdsworth relocated to London, where he was taken under the wing of saxophonist Ray Warleigh. By 1972, Holdsworth had joined progressive rockers Tempest, appearing on the group's self-titled debut a year later before joining Soft Machine in December 1973 -- and radically changing the latter outfit's sound to guitar-based fusion in the process. U.S. drummer Tony Williams discovered Holdsworth around this time, which led to an invite for the up-and-coming guitarist to replace John McLaughlin in Williams' Lifetime project -- Holdsworth abruptly left Soft Machine in March of 1975, subsequently appearing on the Williams recordings Believe It and Million Dollar Legs. But Holdsworth's union with Williams was a brief one, as the guitarist joined up with French-English prog rockers Gong for such albums as 1976's Gazeuse! (released as Expresso in the U.S.) and 1978's Expresso II, in addition to appearing on recordings by Jean-Luc Ponty, Bill Bruford, Gordon Beck, Jack Bruce, and UK.

Also in the late '70s, Holdsworth launched a solo career, which over the years has seen the release of nearly 20 albums (a few standouts include 1983's Road Games, 1985's Metal Fatigue, 1994's Hard Hat Area, and 2000's The Sixteen Men of Tain), as the guitarist was joined by such acclaimed musicians as Paul Williams (a former bandmate of Holdsworth's in Tempest), Gary Husband, Chad Wackerman, Jimmy Johnson, Steve Hunt, and Alan Pasqua, among others. In the mid-'80s, Holdsworth was one of the first musicians to use a SynthAxe, a guitar that contained a breath controller that proved to be a cross between a synthesizer, guitar, and saxophone (Holdsworth was awarded Best Guitar Synthesist from 1989 through 1994 in the readers' poll of Guitar Player magazine). In the '90s, Holdsworth also created his own signature guitar model with the Carvin company. In the mid-'90s, Holdsworth briefly shifted away from his fusion originals and recorded an album with longtime musical partner Gordon Beck that dipped into jazz standards. The Sixteen Men of Tain (2000) marked another shift, in that it was the first Holdsworth release to feature an all-acoustic rhythm section. This was followed in 2002 by All Night Wrong, his first official live release. Then! Live in Tokyo was next, featuring Holdsworth's 1990 live band, which was followed by Against the Clock, a career retrospective, in 2005.

Over the next several years the guitarist appeared on a series of collaborative recordings: Conversation Piece, Pts. 1-2 with Beck, Jeff Clyne, and John Stevens (Belle Antique, 2008); Propensity with Danny Thompson and Stevens (Art of Time Recordings, 2009); and Blues for Tony with Alan Pasqua, Chad Wackerman, and Jimmy Haslip (MoonJune, 2009). While continuing to tour and play live, Holdsworth undertook a PledgeMusic campaign in 2015 to issue the rarities collection Tales from the Vault; it appeared digitally a year later. It was followed on April 7, 2017 by a double-disc retrospective entitled Eidolon and the massive 12-disc box set The Man Who Changed Guitar Forever! (a title that Holdsworth -- not one to boast about his talents -- reportedly disliked), which collected all of his solo albums plus bonus material. Only eight days later, Holdsworth passed away on April 15 at the age of 70. ~ Greg Prato
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Eidolon (Remastered)

Disc 1

1. The Sixteen Men Of Tain

2. The Drums Were Yellow

3. Eidolon

4. How Deep Is The Ocean

5. Nuages

6. Ruhkukah

7. Low Levels, High Stakes

8. Tullio

9. Sphere Of Innocence

10. Dodgy Boat

11. Against The Clock

12. City Nights

13. 54 Duncan Terrace

14. Road Games (Jack Bruce)

Disc 2

1. Peril Premonition

2. Distance Vs. Desire

3. Pud Wud

4. Non-Brewed Condiment

5. Funnels

6. Metal Fatigue

7. Home

8. Devil Take The Hindmost

9. Tokyo Dream

10. Water On The Brain Pt II

11. Letters Of Marque

12. Temporary Fault

13. The 4.15 Bradford Executive

14. Curves

x

Track List: The Sixteen Men Of Tain

1. 0274

2. The Sixteen Men Of Tain

3. Above And Below

4. The Drums Were Yellow

5. Texas

6. Downside Up

7. Eidolon

8. Above And Below (Reprise)

x

Track List: The Best Of Allan Holdsworth: Against The Clock

Disc 1

2. Sphere Of Innocence

4. Low Levels High Stakes

5. How Deep Is The Ocean

6. Nuages

7. Devil Take The Hindmost

8. Home

9. Peril Premonition

10. The Sixteen Men Of Tain

11. Mr. Berwell

12. Looking Glass

13. Pud Wud

Disc 2

1. Spokes

2. Distance vs. Desire

4. Against The Clock

5. Eeny Meeny

6. Secrets

7. Bo Peep

8. Postlude

9. All Our Yesterdays

10. Eidolon

x

Track List: Then! (Live)

1. Zone I (Live)

2. Proto-Cosmos (Live)

3. White Line (Live)

4. Atavachron (Live)

5. Zone II (Live)

6. Pud Wud (Live)

7. House Of Mirrors (Live)

8. Non-Brewed Condiment (Live)

9. Zone III (Live)

x

Track List: All Night Wrong

1. Lanyard Loop

2. The Things You See

3. Alpharazallan

4. Funnels (live)

5. Zone

6. Water On The Brain Pt.II

7. Above & Below

8. Gas Lamp Blues (live)

x

Track List: Flat Tire

1. The Duplicate Man [Intro]

2. The Duplicate Man

3. Eeny Meeny

4. Please Hold On

5. Snow Moon

6. Curves

7. So Long

8. Bo Peep

9. Don't You Know

x

Track List: The Sixteen Men Of Tain (Special Edition)

1. San Onofre

2. 0274

3. The Sixteen Men Of Tain

4. Above And Below

5. The Drums Were Yellow

6. Texas

7. Downside Up

8. Eidolon

9. Above And Below (Reprise)

10. Material Unreal

x

Track List: None Too Soon

1. Countdown

2. Nuages

3. How Deep Is The Ocean

4. Isotope

5. None Too Soon Pt. I/Interlude/None Too Soon Pt. II

6. Norwegian Wood

7. Very Early

8. San Marcos

9. Inner Urge

x

Track List: Hard Hat Area

1. Prelude

2. Ruhkukah

3. Low Levels, High Stakes

4. Hard Hat Area

5. Tullio

6. House Of Mirrors

7. Postlude

x

Track List: Wardenclyffe Tower

1. 5 To 10

2. Sphere Of Innocence

3. Wardenclyffe Tower

4. Dodgy Boat

5. Zarabeth

6. Against The Clock

7. Questions

8. Oneiric Moor

x

Track List: Secrets

1. City Nights

2. Secrets

3. 54 Duncan Terrace

4. Joshua

5. Spokes

6. Maid Marion

7. Peril Premonition

8. Endomorph

x

Track List: Sand

1. Sand

2. Distance Vs. Desire

3. Pud Wud

4. Clown

5. The 4.15 Bradford Executive

6. Mac Man

x

Track List: Atavachron

1. Non Brewed Condiment

2. Funnels

3. The Dominant Plague

4. Atavachron

5. Looking Glass

6. Mr. Berwell

7. All Our Yesterdays

x

Track List: Metal Fatigue

1. Metal Fatigue

2. Home

3. Devil Take The Hindmost

4. Panic Station

5. The Un-Merry Go-Round

6. In The Mystery

x

Track List: Road Games

1. Three Sheets To The Wind

2. Road Games

3. Water On The Brain, Pt. 2

4. Tokyo Dream

5. Was There?

6. Material Real

x

Track List: I.O.U.

1. The Things You See (When You Haven't Got Your Gun)

2. Where Is One

3. Checking Out

4. Letters Of Marque

5. Out From Under

6. Temporary Fault

7. Shallow Sea

8. White Line

Comments

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philippepelu s o
Frank Zappa said in an interview that he was discovering Holdsworth and asked his fans to keep a close eye on his sound. Zappa was talking to the guitar lovers for technique and uniqueness. Holdsworth has elevated the jazz fusion sound to outer limits...... Masterful !!
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Craig, you just said what i have felt and been telling people for years.
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This music is definitely universal in every language god bless this talent
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This music is jaw dropping for musicians, but the mainstream will never get it. It is too esoteric to be popular, but most music that is popular does not interest me. Thus, I when I see this in the mix, I get all excited.
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Holdsy
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philippepelu s o
this man is the definition of an artistic virtuoso... love his technique
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markunderdah l
Allan is one of a kind.
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We can know one thing for sure...and this is that there is only one Allan Holdsworth.
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The greatest guitarist I've ever heard. Eddie Vanhalen put it best when he said "Allan Holdsworth can do more with one hand than he could do with two"
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I want to hear more Allan Holdsworth.
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Allan is the greatest and has the most vicious runs
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agreed, john.
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Allan Holdsworth, absolutely my favourite guitarist- he takes harmonic risks, tries voicing and melodies that others cant even dream of... just brilliant.
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philippepelu s o
I recommend Blues for Tony (2 CDs) on ITunes, it's a great live recording.
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Looking for the Holdsworth tunes, Road games (from Road games) and Metal fatigue (from metal fatigue) It's been so long, my soul needs, well, what it needs! Thanks again for everything! AL DEL SIMONE
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Allan Holdsworth is a jazzy Ingwie Malmsteen
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Love this guy's music!
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He has a unique sound all of his own, and to keep up with Tony Williams, you got to be a hell of musician to keep up with his timing.
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Simply Incredible !
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Allan Holdsworth is, and always will be, as far as I'm concerned the Best Guitarist ever.
Since I heard him with Tony Williams Lifetime, I couldn't get enough.
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Alan Holdsworth is a GIANT among insects in the fragmented world of fusion guitar Mr. F Zappa recognized his talent long before the Van Halen mainstream liaison. Thank you Alan for sharing your otherworldly talent with us mortals,
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The first time I saw him was in '85 at The Red Creek, a small club in Rochester. I literally laid along the front edge of the stage. He performed the whole Road Games EP. I'll never forget it.
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philippepelu s o
An amazing guitarist and one who Frank Zappa mentioned as innovative when interviewed in mid 70's.
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wyrdwind
A stand out guy among the best with the jazz/rock fusion genre, Allan Holdsworth is inspirationa l . That's why he is the basis for my channel of that genre, which includes many hard bop players, as well. A musician's musician for sure.
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one of my favorite guitar player and composer
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One of my fave tunes is unmerry go round
I think it was a tune about his Dad
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Those who say he's just speed are not hearing the harmonic content whether soloing or comping if you can call it that. Also, his physical fingerings. This guy is nuts and an amazing artist.
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Holdsworth changed my music life! I was drowning in the Enigmatic Ocean tired of all the 80's hair Metal Fatique. After he saved my life I told him IOU but he said it was just a Tokyo Dream that he had in the Dead of Night!
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Hard Hat Area..One of Allan's most melodic solos.
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By far one of greatest guitarist of our time, hands down; first time I heard him was on the Jean luc Ponty Album, Enigmatic Ocean(1978), Struggle of the Turtle to the Sea, Pt. III, the solo at the end is spiritual, the sub-harmonic tone play, riffs in and out of penatonic scale without a hitch, was then and is NOW, the reason, why Allan Holdsworth, to me is the greatest guitarist to me on the planet. (amen).
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Pud Wud
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srican69
He is among the giants who redefined what can be done with a guitar ... others preceding him in the list are Wes, Django & Hendrix .... These men represent inflection points in Guitar history.
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Pud Wud
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love allans tone -i would say that the only other gtrst that can improvise like allan is probably pat metheny
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The reason why he doesn't get the recognition he deserves, despite his sick talent, is because he wants things done his way. When recording Road Games, produced by Ted Templeman, his buddy Eddie Van Halen, who introduced AH to Templeman, wanted to play on the record. But Allan didn't want to trade on Van Halen's name to popularize his art, and refused. Things got a bit frosty after that, and what would have been an amazing full length CD/LP turned out to be a very shortened EP (albeit still am
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sweet and nasty within a breath or beat. seen him in 1986 Ohio State...Thee Allan Holdsworth.# 1
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the greatest and most original since Hendrix. Listening to this genius is pure pleasure.
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last time i saw Alan Holdsworth was 2009. Thee trio was at a tiny joint in Denton, TX . capacity was just under 400. everyone could see his incredible fingers/hand s do their magic!! cloud nine, oh yeah, you bet. jjs
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richdyerii3
crazy and incredible riffs are just filling the room...
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Mr. Holdsworth is an artist of great integrity. His music is original and timeless. I listen to some of his songs on a daily basis and it takes me to a place that few other composers can. I hope someday to see him perform live.
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Alan Holdsworth is one of few artist who spiritualy moves me into a space that is just a euprhoric high. His tones, phrasing, and song structure are a beautiful thing. The first time I heard Devil Take The Hindmost; I had to repeat it multiple times; each time not believing what I had just previously heard.
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wagnergitira n a
He is one of the best. Trully innovative with a clean sound.
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always and inspiration! ! ! I saw him for my first jazz concert back in 1980, At night stage in boston ma..He played with steve smith and stanley clarke,needl e s s to say I love jazz still to this day because of this mans awesome playing style..
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Always surprising and interesting. A true original that I never tire of.
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What a sound.1978 Dr Pepper festival in NYC UK opened for De meola. Listening to this brings me right back.Very special and memorable
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One of the most gratifying listening experiences in music! Can I say . . . . Jazz-Shred?? ? ? AMAZING!!! ! ! ! !
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logbuilder45
I always have been a big fan of his tone and fluidity and of course his recordings with Bill Bruford and Tony Williams are masterful.
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i seen alan with uk with bill bruford on drums. those 2 tony williams records are classics for technique and inspiration and paxsonkev you were lucky to see allan with tony williams on drums miss tony .
Report as inappropriate
I still have the cassette of Metal Fatigue ...
still one of the all time fusion guys..
I bought a carvin because of his suggestions.
Report as inappropriate
paxsonkev
OK - they fixed Allan's bio, thanks guys...
I've seen him twice - in 1975 with the new Tony Williams Lifetime and in 2009 with his own band, both times at Gilly's in Dayton OH. He was excellent and amazing. A true natural talent and unique player.
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