Giants of Rock Bid Farewell to Father of All Guitar Heroes

Article excerpt

Tributes pour in for Bert Weedon, the British musician whose tutorials inspired a generation

The world's most unlikely guitar hero, Bert Weedon, is dead. The author of Play In A Day, which introduced successive generations of British rock stars to their ideal instrument, died peacefully at his home in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, aged 91. Since the news broke, tributes have flooded in from crusty axe-wielders across the nation, saying how much he, and his teaching manual, influenced their careers.

Musical giants who started on the road to rock divinity by studying Weedon's teaching methods include Keith Richards, Sir Paul McCartney, Pete Townshend, Brian May and Eric Clapton, who once said: "I'd never have felt the urge to press on without the tips and encouragement that Play in a Day gave me." Clapton added that he'd "never met a player of any consequence" who hadn't learnt from the book and its sequels.

Weedon was, for a period, a guitar star in his own right. An early British owner of an electric guitar, he imported a heavy, custom-built model in the late 1940s. It cost him 40. A decade later he was performing on stage, squeezing twangy licks in the style of Duane Eddy from his beautiful white, semi-acoustic Hofner. In 1959, his "Guitar Boogie Shuffle" was the first-ever British guitar- instrumental Top 10 hit and was enough to send him on tour - aged 40 - with the younger bands and singers of the first wave of British pop.

He was, it must be said, a fantastically uncool presence in the age of Billy Fury, Adam Faith and the young, hair-gelled Cliff Richard. Where they smouldered, Weedon grinned like an enthusiastic teacher (which was exactly what he was.) He had wavy hair, a serious moustache and a silly name. But he could play up a storm. …