Another passing to report tonight. The Music world has been hit particularly hard these past couple of years – almost to the point of not asking ” who’s next?” but “who’s left?”
Tonight it’s news that legendary guitarist Allan Holdsworth has died at the age of 70. Cause not reported. One more staggering loss of a musician who has been referred to as “The John Coltrane of Guitar” and whose innovations and style made him one of the most influential musicians in a wide range of musical genres to come along in recent memory.
First coming to prominence as a member of Soft Machine in 1975 (for one album, Bundles) before embarking on a tenure with a series of bands ranging in everything from Progressive Rock to Jazz and Jazz-Fusion, Holdsworth put an indelible stamp on his presence. During his career he released some dozen solo albums, in addition to numerous guest appearances on albums with everyone from Gong to Krokus and Level 42.
For all his work in other genres; from Heavy Metal to Prog, his main area of influence was Jazz Fusion, and it was here that he changed the conversation. From his groundbreaking work with Soft Machine and Gong, jumping into Fusion wasn’t that big a stretch, but it was introducing complex chord progressions and his solo work that took Fusion to new places.
This concert, featuring a trio consisting of Ernest Tibbs on bass and Chad Wackerman on drums was recorded on November 9, 2011 at the Leverkusener Jazz Festival in Leverkusen Germany and recorded by North German Radio.
So far, 2017 has been another year of loss and running the very high possibility that it will be as devastating, if not more than 2016 was. It’s impossible to know the extent of someone’s influence over a genre – hard to pinpoint where and when the exact moment of change occurred. But the fact that music was in a different place before Allan Holdsworth arrived and it changed forever after he arrived can only mean it was his imprint that made the difference.
I doubt very much we will see or hear his kind again.