Saturday, April 21, 2012

RIP Bert Weedon

Before I learned that 91 year old guitar ace Bert Weedon had died today, I was thinking about something that comes with age. Possibly with wisdom, possibly due to brain cells dying in droves, but definitely with increasing age, comes a mellowness about things that you used to think sucked and now seem very fitting, and an important part of life's great tapestry.

As a kid, the two things I knew about Bert Weedon were:

1. The Bonzo Dog Band chanted on one track, "We are normal and we dig Bert Weedon."
2. Bert Weedon wrote the guitar tutorial Play In a Day, which featured little in the way of brain-burning, skull-peeling Hendrixisms and therefore sucked.

If the Bonzos thought Bert was too normal - we used to call normals 'straight' - and I thought his guitar course sucked, then of course so must have old Bert.

Nowadays it's pretty clear that if Bert hadn't written Play in a Day, which went on to sell millions, then pretty much everyone who provided the guitar soundtrack to the sixties and seventies would never have learned to play. When I saw a guitar course that taught you how to play Bobbie Shaftoe, I couldn't get beyond the normal - straight - song choice. Luckily, Eric Clapton, the Beatles, Pete Townshend, Brian May and many others had considerably more imagination than I did, and went from Bobbie Shaftoe to much brain-burning and skull-peeling of their own.

They say that hearing Lonnie Donnegan made the boys of the fifties want to play guitar, and Play In a Day enabled them to do so. Perhaps if I'd bought it, I would have learned the guitar properly back then myself, but I was too snooty. RIP Bert Weedon.

1 comment:

Bruv said...

Hi Sis

Happy Birthday

Yesterday I went to the 400th anniversary of my school. Boy that puts american history into context. I actually met 5 of my old school mates of 55years ago and it seems I am legendary!!!

All the tales they tell their kids about BGS involve me and my buddy Jim Brown, like taking a trap door up and covering it in brown paper and the english teacher falling down it and siphoning the prefect's fishpond empty (I think that is a "legend" as I recall we only stole the fish). But I still couldn't bring myself to sing the school song, Dulsi Domum Resonemus. But Ian Fallows the Headmaster was there, how old he was I don't know as he arrived in 1962.

Bert Wheedon is also responsible for my brief attempt at the guitar, again with Jim Brown (no idea where he is now), my problem was that although I could read the notes, as soon as I closed the booklet I couldn't remember them, very early stage alzeimers I assume as I was only 14!!!!

Just been listening to Blues and Lonesome by Tony McPhee (ex Groundhogs) and Billy Boy Arnold, definitely worth a listen.



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