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Music / Allan Holdsworth

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Allan Holdsworth (6 August 1946 – 15 April 2017) was a British guitar player and jazz fusion musician. Easily one of the first players to break out of the box of traditional guitar technique, Holdsworth had a very progressive sound, and could be identified by his eccentric legato playing and his complex chordal melodies.

Holdsworth was born into a musical family, and wanted to be a horn player as a kid. Unfortunately for him, his uncle bought him a guitar. Unenthusiastic at first, Holdsworth toyed around on the guitar, trying his utmost to make it not sound like a guitar. It worked, and Holdsworth quickly found his technique growing at an alarming rate. Saxophone player John Coltrane was one of his biggest influences, and Holdsworth's "outside" legato playing can be attributed to his emulation of saxophone players.

Holdsworth was a pioneer of melodic guitar playing, and has influenced such successes in the genre as Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, Van Halen, and John Petrucci.


  • 1976: Velvet Darkness note 
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  • 1982: I.O.U.
  • 1983: Road Games (EP)
  • 1985: Metal Fatigue
  • 1986: Atavachron
  • 1987: Sand
  • 1989: Secrets
  • 1992: Wardenclyffe Tower
  • 1993: Hard Hat Area
  • 1996: None Too Soon
  • 1999: The Sixteen Men of Tain
  • 2001: Flat Tire: Music for a Non-Existent Movie
  • 2005: The Best of Allan Holdsworth: Against the Clock (compilation)

Allan Holdsworth provides examples of:

  • Beyond the Impossible - Guitar players have adopted the term "Holdsworthian chord" for chords that are seemingly impossible to play.
  • Cover Version - His entire album None Too Soon is full of covers of jazz standards.
  • Iconic Item - Holdsworth made the SynthAxe cool. At least, he made it as cool as an obscure, heavy piece of machinery costing over $10,000 can be.
  • Improv - The guy improvised an entire concert tour. Easily one of the best improvisers out there.
  • Instrumentals - Most of his work.
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  • Insufferable Genius - Holdsworth is such a stickler for tone that he refuses to let the sound guys set up his equipment. He has even yelled at recording engineers for not knowing how to mic his setupnote 


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