If anyone out there is interested in ‘My First Guitar’ – (and how I acquired it)…..There’s a good book for guitar enthusiasts, written by top session bass player, Mo Foster. He persuaded many guitar players to tell the story of their first guitar. It’s a good read and has most of the well known players of the past fifty years, with photographs. My story is in there, along with a pic. of my first group, Norman Eddy and The Imperials, which included sixteen year old Bob Henrit. Cliff Richard is in the picture pretending to give us tips about showbiz…(The photo was taken by The Hertfordshire Mercury)….
The Holey Guitar – It’s a strange thing, there’s a lot of stuff online about that guitar – many people have copied it: Buck Dharma of Blue Oyster Cult has a similar axe, which he calls the Cheeseburger and Roger Daltrey asked a carpenter some years ago to cut holes in his Les Paul to make it look like my old lady. Originally, my guitar was a 1965 Strat…. but let’s make it a good story and start at the beginning of my guitar life:
I’d been going to piano lessons for five years, from the ages of eight to thirteen and I really didn’t enjoy the process. Oh!, I liked playing tunes but not being taught or having to practice everyday. I wanted a guitar, and I plagued my Dad over and over,
“I WANT A GUITAR”
That was my mantra for months…”You’re not having one, stick to the piano”. (That was my Dad). I apologise now for sounding so disgustingly spoilt, however, throughout the weeks I worked on him. I knew he could be worn down by continuous nagging…The overpowering need to have a guitar became too much. “This is the night” I thought.
It was a Saturday night and I waited for him to come in from work. Actually, he was in a rotten mood – I think he was tired. As soon as he walked in to the house I gave him my opening gambit….”Dad I want a guitar”. – “You’re not having a guitar, stick to the piano”, he said. “I want one” – I pleaded, “Please” – “No” – “Pleeesse” – “No” – “Pleeaasse”.
“This is not working”, I thought…Now I will use a new plan…. I laid on the floor and kicked the fireplace – “I-WANT-A-GUITAR”. This was either going to lead to the back of Dad’s hand…or….I don’t know where… this was new territory.
Then, as I waited for, I don’t know what, Dad shouted, “Get your coat on” – I wasn’t ready for this, My Father had surrendered and we were in his Lorry driving to Cheshunt to Moore’s music shop. “He wants a guitar…Give him a guitar” – There were probably eight guitars. I chose the most expensive, 10guineas (10pounds fifty pence) I also got a guitar tutor, Burt Weedon’s play in a day… We jumped in to the lorry …”Thanks Dad”. I tried to sound humble….Dad just blurted back “Another bloody five minute wonder”. I think he and Mum both enjoyed being part of the journey.
And so my “Guitar-life” began. James Burton was a big influence when I was growing up….I couldn’t figure out how he could bend G strings…many people said he used a banjo string. He played the great solos on the Ricky Nelson records. I played a lot on my new guitar until my fingers bled, but soon found out that an electric guitar would be even better… or louder? After I was in hospital the next time, my mother promised me an electric guitar. It was a Hofner Club 60 and with that guitar I got a Truevoice TV10 amplifier.