A blues legend.

Son house was one of the very early pioneers of the delta blues. He played slide guitar and his voice was a powerful  mean growl. Real name Eddie James he was born in Mississippi in 1902 and spent his early twenties preaching as a church pastor before he turned to the blues.

In 1930 he recorded with the legend charlie Patton ( whose recordings are well worth a listen even though they are of quite a poor recording quality. ). Unfortunately the recordings didn’t sell very well and though son house remained popular in his local area stardom evaded him.

Throughout the 30s son house influenced the legendary delta bluesmen  Robert Johnson and muddy waters. In 1941 and 42 he was recorded by the library of congress with Alan lomax but shortly after he gave up music and left the delta for Rochester New York

In 1964 he was rediscovered and his career took off once again. He recorded several albums and influenced many young English bands including the Rolling Stones and the who.

Son house died in 1988. A fantastic guitarist whose voice was like a foghorn. Check out death letter blues and grinning in your face.


Back to school – learn a new instrument!

As the new academic year starts lots of parents and kids start a new hobby. Quite often this new hobby is learning an instrument.

There are lots of benefits to learning a musical instrument.  These are as follows;

  • Increases the capacity of your memory.
  • Teaches you perseverance,
  • Enhances your coordination,
  • Betters your mathematical ability,
  • Improves your reading and comprehension skills
  • Enables you to express yourself and relieves stress.

On top of the above points I have met many friends through music especially my band mates.

So if you live in lilbourne,Yelvertoft ,Catthorpe, Swinford, Shawell, West Haddon, Newton,Guilsborough, Crick , Hillmorton, Clifton or Rugby and the surrounding area give me a call on 07845 961345 or contact me by email at martin.music.guitar@hotmail.co.uk for more information.

The Last Great Guitarist?

Slash [real name Saul Hudson] is perhaps the last great guitarist to reach such popularity with the hugely influential band Guns and Roses.

Slash was born in 1965 and was raised in stoke on trent but moved to Los Angeles when he was 5. He took up the guitar in 1979 and would practice for 12 hours a day. In 1981 he joined his first band”Tidus Sloan” but it was in june 1985 that he was asked by Axl Rose and Izzy Stradlin to join the newly formed G n R with Duff Mckagan and Steven Adler.

By 1987 after being signed by Geffen Records “Appetite for destruction”  was released and Slash was fast becoming a global superstar.With his trademark top hat and his Gibson Les Paul he belted out raucous riffs like welcome to the jungle, paradise city and rocket queen

His guitar playing on the album is sensational from heavy riffs to sleazy solos. As with any genius his playing is effortless and impossible to copy and what I love most of all is the way his solos are melody based, he doesn’t just widdle up and down the fretboard,he will have a hook or riff that makes you think “where did that come from”!

Certainly a true master of his art,and maybe one of the last great players to make it to such heights in an ever diverse music scene where the guitar solo is unfortunately becoming a rarity!

The Rise n Fall of G n R

Guns and Roses formed in 1985 in Los Angeles when two bands became one, Hollywood Rose and LA guns became Guns And Roses.

With charismatic singer Axl Rose fronting the band and Slash and Izzy Stradlin providing the sleazy guitar riffs they were soon signed by Geffen records. Their first album “Appetite for Destruction” with singles “Sweet child o mine” and “Paradise city” helping the album sell 30 million copies worldwide. Check out “its so easy” and “night train”, with Axl snarling about drugs and sex over slash’s dirty blues riffs its classic GnR!  The album ends with “Rocket Queen” , a fitting end to a fantastic album!

Its So Easy – Live version

Rocket Queen

Night Train

A double album followed, Use your illusion 1 and 2 and have sold more than 30 million albums combined. Again we have some great songs here, “Civil War”, “Pretty Tied Up” and “You Could Be Mine” to name a few.

From 1987 to 1991 GnR were the biggest band on the planet headlining festivals and doing sellout world tours. Cracks were beginning to show though and Izzy Stradlin left the band in 1991 due to Axls erratic behaviour,often turning up late to shows and fighting with the crowd and drug abuse was a problem with the band.

GnR never officially split, instead band tensions between Rose and the other members grew and eventually Axl ended up with the rights to the GnR name and by 2008 “Chinese Democracy” was released with just Axl from the original line up left.

Recently the original line up have got back together,well Axl Slash and Duff. Only time will tell how long it lasts. Hopefully for a long time!

A word on Slashs guitar style! Slash plays a Gibson Les Paul through marshall amlificationand uses effects pedals such as the cry baby wah wah and various chorus pedals and stomp boxes. He very skilfully mixes minor and major pentatonics and his solos are very well constructed often starting off mellow and ending up in sixteenth note runs not easy to copy!

If you get a chance to see this legendary band don’t pass it up! The likes of GnR don’t come along too often!

Rockschool Grade Books

The Rockschool Grade books are not only a fantastic teaching aid but my students find the songs great to learn. The songs are based on famous songs by the likes of ACDC, Black Sabbath, Jimi Hendrix etc. In each book there are 6 songs in various styles from rock to blues, funk and reggae.

The books all come with backing tracks to play along to and wether you are learning guitar,bass,drums or piano Rockschool has a book for you!

If you wish to take the grade you simply learn 3 of the 6 songs,learn to play a few scales and complete a couple of oral tests and you’re ready to go.

Going from debut grade right up to grade 8 and with the student gaining UCAS points at grade 5 they really are an excellent learning tool for any budding musician!

Keys Made Easy!

A student of mine recently asked me to explain what a musical key was. We sat at his piano and I told him the following main points. Lets start with the key of c major.

First we need to know the major scale. The major scale is C D E F G A B , all the white notes on a piano with no sharps or flats.

Once we know the scale we then build chords on each note. in a major key the pattern is as follows. Major,minor,minor,major,major,minor,diminished.

So the first chord in the key of C is Cmajor. The second is Dminor the 3rd is Eminor etc.

Once we know the chords we can then understand how songs are composed. In its most simplistic form songs are composed using just chords from the key but as music is not an exact science songwriters will pull chords from ‘outside the key'[check out Noel Gallaghers ‘Don’t look back in anger’ The song is in the key of C but he uses the Emajor instead of the Eminor]

The best way to grasp this concept is to write your own songs and to experiment,and above all have fun!

Fender Stratocaster

Every guitarist has an opinion on what is the ‘best’ guitar. Some swear by the Les Paul or the SG or the beautiful 335 all made by the Gibson company.

For me there is one guitar that is more versatile and has been used by more legends  than any other and that’s the Fender Stratocaster. The strat is so popular primarily because it is so versatile.  Blues, rock, country and funk guitarists all love the strat.


Leo Fender designed the strat in 1954. Fitted with three single coil pickups ranging from the biting cut of the bridge to the smoother neck, with the middle pickup great for rhythm playing and two more options of bridge/middle and neck/middle the tonal possibilities are endless.

The strat is very comfortable to hold with a contoured body and is lightweight. Legends from Buddy Holly, Jimi Hendrix, Buddy Guy, Stevie Ray Vaughn and Mark Knopfler have all played the strat.

Hendrix used the strat to its full potential. Check out the beautiful Little Wing and the blistering Voodoo Child both played on a strat but sounding worlds apart.

Todays modern strat has obviously evolved over the years with many different models available but the core of the guitar remains the same with the same shape and single coil pickups as standard.

The Fender Strat is a true classic. Plug one into a good valve amp and discover for yourself the sounds of this wonderful instrument.


The blues

I love different styles of music but running through all of them is a heavy blues influence. Wether it be rock and roll, folk, rock, the blues has helped shape all these genres.

The most famous early bluesman was Robert Johnson. The Mississippi delta bluesman only recorded 29 songs during his short lifetime in hotel rooms in San Antonio and Dallas Texas. Apparently blues folklore states he sold his soul to the devil in return for his musical proweress! . His songs and playing are still revered to this day and though he died at the age of 27 his body of work is hugely impressive.

Moving on a few years and the blues was electrified by the likes of Muddy Waters, Elmore James and Howling Wolf. Muddy played slide guitar on a telecaster and barked out classics like Mannish boy.

We can’t talk about the blues without bowing down to the 3 kings! B.B, Freddie and Albert weren’t related but were giants in the world of blues guitar.

B.B played a sweet mellow style of blues. He made his gibson 335 which he called Lucille sing the sweetest notes and his vibrato was unique. His phrasing was effortless and he even created his own scale called the B.B box!

Freddie king was a huge man who was born to play the blues. Like many Texan bluesman he had a swing to his playing and effortlessly mixed major and minor scales to great effect. Check out ‘tore down’ .Freddie also wrote many instrumentals including ‘hideaway” which proved a big hit for him.

Albert king played a Flying V left handed but on a right handed guitar which he flipped upside down. This meant his strings were upside down allowing him to achieve huge bends which he did to great effect. Albert primarily used the blues scale but squeezed every bit of juice he could out of a few notes. His most famous hit was ‘born under a bad sign’ which has been covered by bands such as cream.

The masters of the guitar continued to be influenced by the blues. Jimi Hendrix , jimmy page, Stevie Ray Vaughn and Eric Clapton- the list goes on,they all have a strong blues connection to their playing.

The blues has been around for more than a hundred years. It’s a form of music very simple in structure and yet within this structure the music can be as simple or as complicated as you want to make it. Maybe that’s why us guitarists love it so much!


Eddie Cochran

Eddie is one of my all time favourite musicians. Born in Minnesota in 1938 his tragically short career only lasted a few years.

In the late 1950s Eddie was a rock and roll star famous for hits such as ‘summertime blues’ and ‘c’mon everybody’. He was a sharp dressed good looking young man and his music was guitar driven rock and roll.

With his orange gretsch 6120 guitar Eddie sang about girls, partying and teenage rebellion and epitomised the 50s rocker. He was also one of the first artists to experiment with multitrack recording and overdubbing which was very useful for Eddie as he could play many instruments.

Two of eddies best friends Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens died in a plane crash and Eddie had a premonition that he too would die young.

He wanted to give up life on the road and spend more time in the studio but financial pressures required him to continue touring and that led him to accept an offer to tour the u.k in 1960.

Tragically Eddie’s premonition came true and on April 16th 1960 he was killed in a car accident.

When I listen to Eddie’s music It’s hard not to think of what might had been had he lived.  The songs he left us with are very special and I guess we should be grateful for that!

My First Music Hero

I remember when I was 13 years old I had to write a music project in school on a musician we liked and I chose to do mine on Buddy Holly.

I had grown up listening to the early rock and roll star as my mum and dad had all his original records and they were regularly played on the record player.

Buddy was a pioneer of rock and roll. Long before The Beatles had written a hit song Buddy was charting on the radio with great songs like ‘Peggy Sue’ and ‘That’ll Be The Day’.

His sound was so simple. Jerry Allison on the drums. Joe.B.Mauldin on stand up bass and Buddy singing and playing his famous black and white Stratocaster.

Holly was from Lubbock, Texas and was born on the 7th September 1936. He soon learned to play the guitar and sang songs with his siblings.

By 1955 Holly had opened for Elvis three times and had a recording contract with Decca records. He called his band The Crickets and so with a unique hiccup vocal style the spectacle wearing Holly was a bona fide music star by the age of 20.

Many hit songs followed including the driving beat of ‘Rave On’ and my favourite ‘Peggy Sue Got Married’.

Tragically his fame was short lived. On a snowy night on the 3rd February 1959 Buddy was killed in a plane crash along with the 17 year old music star Ritchie Valens and the big bopper. A life cut tragically short but a music legend that made a huge impression on a 13 year old!