One of the most original guitarists to have ever walked this planet, Allan Holdsworth (1946-2017) was a giant among giants who influenced legions of guitarists. His style of playing was nothing short of phenomenal — highly inventive, lyrical, and at the same time jarring. He was the Picasso of his instrument, stretching the boundaries of what was possible on the guitar, always reaching for the seemingly unreachable.
If you asked Allan what he was doing on the guitar, he’d tell you (disingenuously, I felt), that he had no clue. I once coaxed him into doing a rare Masterclass at the Blue Note one afternoon so he could explain to his followers (heck, I wanted to know myself) how he approached the guitar. He was reluctant as ever. But he did it anyway. There was a line of rabid fans wrapped around the block who came to hear the oracle. Sure enough, after a couple of hours of evading pointed questions from the audience, he did have a bonafide method. But it was all Allan’s. I had the pleasure of representing him and bringing him out of self-imposed retirement over a decade ago as we traveled the Northeast for a stateside tour. At one point, I had tried organizing a double bill tour with him and Keith Emerson as I was handling both artists at the time. They both loved the idea. But alas! it never materialized. He will be missed. RIP.