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Geoff Whitehorn in Total Guitar, January 2000

An interview that doesn't mention Procol Harum

Well known for his scorching Marshall amp clinics, Geoff Whitehorn is one England's most respected and versatile guitarists. Having played for artists as varied as Roger Daltrey and Vanessa Mae, he teamed up with Total Accuracy in 1998 to produce Jam With... Geoff Whitehorn. As part of their highly successful Jam With ... series, it contained ten tracks that Geoff wrote and recorded with example solos to learn. To coincide with his track Bad Jackets [on the magazine's cover CD], he talks about the book, his influences, favourite gigs and guitars.

Geoff on his Jam With ... Geoff Whitehorn book
I've been doing the Guitar Techniques blues column for several years which has covered a lot of musical ground, So having known Stuart for a while, Total Accuracy suggested I do a book for them following on from my 'Geoff's Blues' column. I was familiar with the format of their Jam With... books and Stuart's blues videos so I thought it'd be fun. I wanted it to be interesting with varied ideas rather than standard 12-bar stuff. The thing is, they are easy to do, so I've included some shuffle and swing ones, but for variety I've also ventured into some different areas."

Geoff on Bad Jackets [on the magazine's cover CD]
It started life as a Hendrix style jam as it contains the Hendrix chord. It went funkier than that with nods to Robben Ford and The Yellow Jackets - hence the title, Bad Jackets.

I used a Tom Anderson Strat on it and my Marshall JMP-1 pre-amp straight into the board with a bit of reverb. I wanted something Strat sounding as opposed to a Les Paul which was used for the majority of the book's soloing as the classic English blues tone."

Geoff on using different keys on for his blues tracks
Not many people think of a blues in F minor or a blues in Ab! So there was a conscious effort to move away from the standard guitar friendly keys like A and C so the book would be more useful to players. This is important as guitarists play differently depending on what key you're in and position on the fretboard.

Geoff on his new Total Accuracy Blues Video
I haven't seen the finished product yet but it was fun to do. I did some stuff from my first two albums Geoff Who? and Big In Gravesend as well as some bits from Paul Rodgers and Backstreet Crawlers. There was also some spontaneous jamming and a solo building exercise. Most of the guitar videos I've seen are as interesting as watching paint dry so I wanted it to be appealing and varied. The guy that filmed it made me work; I had to do everything four or five times so he could vary the camera angles. It looks like there are maybe six cameras involved but there were only two. He then had to edit it all together As I don't play anything exactly the same each time, it proved interesting to say the least!

Geoff's work at the moment
"I'm doing a rock guitar library album for Germany at the moment, and I'm also demoing for Celestion. I enjoy that - just to play and get into the music. I'm also still doing Marshall shows - I'm off to Italy soon and then Frankfurt next year.

Geoff on his influences
I started on Hank Marvin as did most of my generation of guitar players. I think Hank Marvin was the man who brought the guitar more to my generation than anybody else. After The Shadows there were The Beatles and the Rolling Stones who totally changed how the guitar was featured in pop music.

Then came the British Blues explosion with Eric Clapton playing with John Mayall's Bluesbreakers which we all emulated slavishly for many years. Also, I can't forget Peter Green, Jeff Beck and Jimi Hendrix who presented different variations to blues playing.

I also really liked Ritchie Blackmore a lot as he was so 'out there' as a player He had a lot of technique and while not a blues player per se, he had a lot of blues in his playing. He also mixed this up with the odd flattened fifth and classical elements. I think all this evolved from Deep Purple jamming in rehearsal studios. Deep Purple are still my favourite band today. They're probably the greatest musicians in their field - Jon Lord and Ian Pace especially. It was nice seeing Ian playing with Paul McCartney recently on his Run Baby Run LP. Also, Jon Lord was classically trained and he's one of those musicians that listens to something once and then plays it back on a gig when you least expect it."

Geoff on some of his best recordings and gigs
I never auditioned for The Who as I used to work with their keyboard player, John Bundrick, or Rabbit to his friends. He's a Texan who played with Free at the band's end and then with Paul Kossoff in Backstreet Crawler. So I met him when I replaced Paul in that band [Backstreet Crawler] and have kept in touch after that. About five years ago, when Rabbit was playing with Roger Daltrey he invited me along to play. After those gigs, Roger's band got incorporated into The Who for a short time, it was great fun! With The Who we did Quadrophenia in Hyde Park for The Prince's Trust before we went on to New York's Madison Square Garden for six nights. After that I had other commitments with Paul Rodgers so I couldn't continue - but they were a great bunch of guys."

The Vanessa Mae thing was purely a session that I got called for. There was one tune they really wanted to do with Vanessa, the American version of Hocus Pocus. It was assumed I'd know this as, alongside Blackmore, I've also been a big fan of Jan Akkerman. So I did that and then played a few other things for the very early stages of her album - Vanessa hadn't even played anything for it as they were still putting together the tracks. There were a lot of sequences and loops on the album which took a bit of time to do. I didn't know how it would turn out, especially as some of my guitar was sampled for funny noises to be worked into the arrangements later.

I also played on Billy Ocean's Lover Boy from the early 80s as a one-off session. I enjoyed doing that - the riff was fun to play and gave a rock edge to a mainly dance-orientated track. The producer for the song was Mutt Lange so it's a good arrangement. Mutt's been a mate for years so that's really how my involvement came about."

Geoff on Sid Poole guitars
I have about six guitars of Sid's. He does such good work. Originally, he had his own building company but through a back injury he gave it up and turned to making guitars. He brought me his first attempt which looked appalling but played great and had a good sustain. I still have this prototype. After that, I wanted him to make me a Les Paul style guitar that I could take out on the road. Basically, I needed a suitable working guitar to replace my old '57 Gold Top which stays at home. This was very important as I was working with Paul Rodgers at the time which required a Les Paul. So Sid did an almost exact replica of the '57 which was great. I now have two of them, and they're probably the closest thing to the early originals. This was certainly the case back then when I was working with Rodgers. Sid's attention to detail really is second to none which results in tremendous guitars."

And on the cover CD: Track 7: Geoff Whitehorn's Bad Jackets complete with all the recorded guitar parts. So in addition to the written tab you can hear the rhythm, fills and solos how they should be played. Track 8: complete full-band backing track for Bad Jackets minus lead guitar line. Music arranged and produced by Geoff Whitehorn.

Geoff Whitehorn's page at BtP 

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