Allan Holdsworth

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Allan Holdsworth, at the Beacon Theater , New York City , about 1975

Allan Holdsworth (born August 6, 1946 in Bradford , Yorkshire , † April 15, 2017 in Vista , California ) was a British jazz guitarist .

Since, according to his sound ideas, the guitar should sound like a saxophone, Holdsworth experimented with electronic alienation at an early age. He was one of the British pioneers of rock jazz . "He is a highly individual player who is characterized by an extremely fluid game and an almost inexhaustible wealth of ideas."


Allan Holdsworth (2007)

Allan Holdsworth took piano lessons from his father, a pianist. He didn't get to the guitar until he was 17. He named Charlie Christian and John Coltrane as early role models . Contrary to rumors to the contrary, Holdsworth had never played the saxophone.

He first played in the Leeds area ; In the late 1960s he moved to London , where he worked at Ian Carrs Nucleus and then at Jon Hiseman's Colosseum successor Tempest (1972) and Soft Machine (1973 to 1975). Then he recorded Tony Williams ' Lifetime . He then played with Pierre Moerlens Gong , with Jean-Luc Ponty and John Stevens and Barry Guy . At the end of the 70s he appeared with the progressive and jazz rock formations UK and Bruford . In the early eighties, after a short time in Paris, he moved to the United States, where he began to produce his own projects. Holdsworth has worked on recordings of Stanley Clarke , Herbie Hancock , Esther Phillips , Chad Wackerman , Level 42 and Gary Husband .

In addition to his musical activities, he was a passionate cyclist and beer connoisseur. He brewed his own beer, held a patent on a beer dispenser and called his recording studio "The Brewery". Holdsworth most recently lived in San Diego , California .


His reputation as an outstanding innovator of the modern jazz guitar is based on several stylistic features:

  • Use of large intervals
  • High tempo on saxophone-oriented lines
  • Piano-oriented chords using guitar-untypical chords in close positions (close position voicings)
  • Complex harmonies in his own compositions
  • Inside-outside improvisation

His admirers include musicians like Frank Zappa , Pat Metheny , Eddie Van Halen , Scott Henderson , Andy Timmons , Carlos Santana , Joe Pass , Joe Satriani , Steve Vai, and Marcus Deml .


In the mid-1980s, Holdsworth was one of the first to use the Synthaxe , a synthesizer controller in a guitar-like form. The guitar manufacturer Ibanez built the signature model AH10 for a short time . Holdsworth also used unconventional guitar models. Steinberger built a signature model GL2TA-AH with passive Seymour Duncan SHAH1 humbuckers , which is only available in Japan , and Carvin (now Kiesel Custom Guitars) also has a Holdsworth signature model in its range.

Holdsworth preferred for many years a small body guitar built by Bill DeLap with two cutaways and a humbucker .

Solo discography

  • Velvet Darkness (1977)
  • The Things You See (1979)
  • IOU (1982)
  • Road Games (1983)
  • Metal Fatigue (1985)
  • Atavachron (1986)
  • Sand (1987)
  • With a Heart in My Song (1988)
  • Secrets (1989)
  • Wardenclyffe Tower (1992)
  • Hard Hat Area (1993)
  • None Too Soon (1996)
  • The Sixteen Men of Tain (2000)
  • Flat Tire: Music for a Non-Existent Movie (2001)
  • All Night Wrong (2002, live)
  • Then! Live in Tokyo (2003, live)
  • Against the Clock: The Best of Allan Holdsworth (2005)
  • The Man Who Changed Guitar Forever! (2017)


  • Allan Holdsworth and Alan Pasqua Live at Yoshi’s - Featuring Jimmy Haslip and Chad Wackerman , 2007, DVD
  • Allan Holdsworth live at the Galaxy Theater , Gnarly Geezer Records, 2002, DVD
  • Allan Holdsworth (instructional video), REH Publications, 1992, VHS
  • Bruford - Rock goes to college , 2006, DVD


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. George Varga: Allan Holdsworth, internationally celebrated guitar innovator, dead at 70. In: The San Diego Union-Tribune. Tronc Inc., April 16, 2017, accessed April 17, 2017 .
  2. ^ Ian Carr , Digby Fairweather , Brian Priestley : Rough Guide Jazz. The ultimate guide to jazz music. 1700 artists and bands from the beginning until today. Metzler, Stuttgart / Weimar 1999, ISBN 3-476-01584-X , p. 297.
  3. cf. Holdsworth Reaching for the Uncommon Chord .