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Allan Holdsworth:

Annotated guide to interviews

Please not that this list might not be complete. Refer to the features list on the press section main page.

Igginbottom cover, 1969: Igginbottoms's Wrench: Liner notes
(graphic version)

Ronnie Scott/Mick Jackson

The first pic is a group photo from the back of the album cover. Then there are liner notes by Ronnie Scott (of the famed Ronnie Scott's club in London) and Mick Jackson, who both speak, in the usual ecstatic liner note style, of Igginbottom's success in fusing jazz and pop.

Disc, 13/1/73: The Silent Man In Tempest

Andrew Tyler

A fitting title for this piece, because Allan isn't quoted on anything! All the quotes come from Jon Hiseman, who talks about the philosophy behind the band, and he doesn't seem to mind the comparison to Cream. There's a bio on Allan, which seems fairly correct (some funny remarks about the offers Allan supposedly had when he was "discovered",) but it's quite apparent that the writer hasn't talked with Allan at all. Quite strange, considering that he's the headline topic... Is this Allan's first feature in the press?

Beat Instrumental, ??/78: Player Of The Month


This is a feature that's interspersed with quotes, and not a regular interview as such. Allan talks about his early inspirations and his desire to play sax, and the value of learning on your own. There's a description of events up to date, including the "Velvet Darkness" album, and the forthcoming UK project. Allan also talks about his gear.

Unknown Publication, Spring 78: Any Key In The U.K.

Eamonn Percival

The source of this story is unknown to me, I just have a photocopy that doesn't state any name of the publication. Allan talks a bit about his early days and then the story focuses on UK and, for the most part, Allan's current gear. It might be the benefit of hindsight, but Allan doesn't seem overly enthusiastic on the subject of UK...

Beat Instrumental, ??/79: Allan Holdsworth

Gary Cooper

This story features the rather usual overview of the career so far, and the largest part of the interview is related to gear, and some talk about technique. This is not too surprising, since this is but one of many articles from musician's oriented magazines.

Guitar Player, 12/80: Allan Holdsworth

Tom Mulhern

This version is from a 80's reprint, as is apparent from the introduction. This is the first article in a US mag that I know about. There's a resume and an interview, where Allan talks about his feelings about working with UK and Bruford, his gear, and briefly about the newly formed False Alarm group.

International Musician, 08/81: Allan Holdsworth

Max Kay

Allan talks about the problems with False Alarm, although he expresses some optimism regarding their plans to record an album. There's also a resume, in Allan's own words this time, and a gear description. There's also a brief mention of Steve Topping, who apparently is one of Allan's favourite guitarists.

Guitar World, 09/81 : The Reluctant Virtuoso

J.C. Costa

Allan does a telephone interview with an American writer, and expresses his disenchantment regarding False Alarm. The reporter describes their demo tape in an interesting way. Allan talks about being typecast as a soloist and his dissatisfaction with his previous work. Then there's a section on technique and gear.

Guitar World, 03/82: "Fred" transcription (graphic version)

Scott Lindenmuth

This is a transcription (in standard notation only) of "Fred" from the "Believe It" album. The notes are hand-copied, and in some of the faster passages, the notes are so cramped to fit within the allotted space that it's almost illegible. Although I haven't tried to play through it yet, there seems to be other flaws as well. The melody line is written as two-note harmonies, whereas "The Uncommon Chord" book more correctly writes it as triads over a pedal bass. The last six bars of the solo are not included. I'm not certain whether this issue featured a separate story on Allan, but it seems unlikely.

Guitar World, 11/82: No Record Contract, No Big Hoopla, But The Fans Have Kept The Faith For Allan Holdsworth

Peter Mengaziol

This article starts out with a description of the American public's relationship with Holdsworth, and tells about the first gigs IOU did in the U.S., which proved a success, and refueled Allan's ambitions. The talk moves on the relationship between ideas and technique. Allan refers to himself as a kind of rock player, which is interesting compared to the way he feels these days. Curiously, there's no mention of the "I.O.U." album.

Guitar Player, 11/82: Allan Holdsworth

Tom Mulhern

This is an in-depth interview with Allan that goes into detail about Allan's gear and technique, describing the recording of "I.O.U.", the reforming of the IOU band and announces the plans to record for Atlantic/Warner Bros.

Music UK , 11/83: Allan Holdsworth

Max Kay

This interview was conducted in Allan's new home in California, presumably a short time after his move. The Atlantic/Warner Bros. recordings mentioned a year ago in Guitar Player hasn't started yet, but Allan still seems optimistic about the future (this might not reflect his true feelings at the time, however, judging by later stories). The talk is mostly on various aspects of his career and his gear.

Musician, ??/84 : The Innocent Abroad

Jock Baird

This article details the circumstances around the Warner Bros. recording contract that Allan entered into, which finally, and after endless problems, resulted in the "Road Games" album. There's also a career and gear resume. This article scores on it outspokenness. It would be interesting to hear the other side of the story, though...

Guitar Player, 2/85: Devil Take The Hindmost transcription (graphic version)

Steve Vai

This is a transcription of about the first half of Allan's solo on "Devil Take The Hindmost", which was also featured on a flexi-disc in this issue of Guitar Player. Steve Vai notes the difficulty in notating Allan's fingerings, but insists that notating the notes themselves was fairly simple. Yeah, right!

Guitarist, 05/85 : Allan Holdsworth

Neville Marten

This is a interview from a British magazine, were Allan talks about "Metal Fatigue", his reasons for emigrating to America, and there's also the usual gear and technique chat. For the first time Allan mentions the SynthAxe, which is also presented by itself in a sidebar story.

Crosstalk - Bill Aitken and Allan Holdsworth talk about SynthAxe

Neville Marten

Allan chats with Axe inventor Bill Aitken about various aspects of the instrument, fairly technical stuff.

Downbeat, 11/85: Allan Holdsworth's New Horizons

Bill Milkowski

The article starts off with several well-known guitarists praising Allan. The main focus is on Allan's use of the SynthAxe on the "Atavachron" album, plus the usual resume. There's also some talk of the trouble Allan has with getting over in both jazz and rock radio, and the conscious shift towards getting over with the jazz audience.

Guitar Player, 06/86: Allan Holdsworth: Synthaxe

Tom Mulhern

Allan talks to Tom Mulhern in depth about the SynthAxe.

Guitar World, 06/87: Guitar Like A Saxophone

Bill Milkowski

Allan talks about the commercial appeal of his music, Scott Henderson is quoted on people copping Allan's licks, Allan talks about the Warner Bros. situation, his recent conversion to Steinberger guitars, the SynthAxe, and his current release at that time, "Sand".

Guitarist, 11/87 : Castles Made Of Sand

Neville Marten

Allan talks about the "Sand" album, the SynthAxe and the breath controller he's using with it, synths in general, the as yet unnamed "Juice Extractor" and the speaker enclosure he designed, his home studio, his views on the current state of guitar playing and why he has downplayed certain techniques. There is a discussion on his approach to chords and scales, and even a bit on his stage fright and the way it affected his drinking! This is a quite long interview, and perhaps one of the best pieces on Allan up to this point.

Guitar World, 05/89 : The Unreachable Star

Matt Resnicoff

This is perhaps the biggest (and best) story ever published on Allan in a magazine. The story starts off at Allan's home, with a vivid and personal description of the surroundings. Next day, writer Matt Resnicoff follows Allan to the studio and reports from the sessions for "Secrets". The trip then goes back to Allan's house for a lengthy interview that taps into a very broad selection of topics: His relationship to the record industry, the financial circumstances he's working under (described in a very up-front way), past and present recordings, the perceptions people have in regard to the SynthAxe, his view on the future and many other things.

The interview is far from the standard "pick and strings" stories you get in so many guitar mags. Instead, you get a portrait of the man himself. Highly recommended reading. The only thing that might seem troubling, is the fact that Matt Resnicoff also did the liner notes for "Secrets", which might raise some questions about his objectivity. (On the other hand, most guitar writers seem to be fans of their subjects anyway...)

Axes Of God

Jimmy Johnson's Bass Concept

The first sidebar story details Allan's gear, while the second is a rather comprehensive feature on bassist Jimmy Johnson.

Guitar World, 05/89 : City Nights transcription (graphic version)

Dave Whitehill

This is a complete transcription of Allan's guitar part on "City Nights". It includes a specific analysis, as well as some more general points on Allan's playing.

Jazz Times, 06/89: Guitarist's Guitarist

Don Heckman

This story explores how Allan relates to the "jazz" term, and goes into some detail on the relationship he had to his father, and the influence of Coltrane. He then talks a bit about the circumstances which made him leave for the U.S., and the problems surrounding the "Road Games" project. He talks a bit about the SynthAxe and finally about "Secrets", which was released at the time. This last section is marred by some factual errors on personnel and song titles.

English Tour Program, 11/89: Allan Holdsworth

Gary Husband

Jimmy Johnson

Steve Hunt

Neville Marten (editor)

These stories come from the rather lavish tour program that was printed for Allan's tour of Britain in 1989. The Allan story is rather straightforward, with the usual blend of bio, influences, technique and gear. The articles on the other band members are pretty much in the same vein. Although there are no specific credits for the articles, they were probably put together by Neville Marten, possibly with assistance from other writers in "Guitarist" magazine, which was the sponsor of the tour.

Guitar Player, 1/90: Future Of The Guitar

Matt Resnicoff

This is a part of an enquete held among a number of guitarists on their views on the guitar's development in the future.

Guitar Player, 03/90: Allan Holdsworth's Untold Secrets

Matt Resnicoff

This story is really sort of a follow-up on the GW -89 story. Writer Resnicoff has changed employers, and this story comes in the aftermath of the release of "Secrets". (If memory serves me right, Resnicoff's GW story on Allan was what prompted GP to offer him a job. I think the editor wrote something like "The only thing wrong with that story was that it wasn't printed in GP".)

This is also quite a lengthy feature. Since it covers the "Secrets" album, some material overlaps with the GW story. This story is laid out as a discussion of each of the tracks on the album. There's also a sidebar story on "worthy quotes" that gives Allan's views on various subjects, including how he deals with personal adulation. All in all, it may not match the GW -89 story, but it stands on its own as a good piece of work.

Guitar Player, 03/90: AH's first solo on Joshua (graphic version)

Mark Small

Pretty self-explanatory, really. Includes an analysis section.

International Musician, 04/90: Avant Guitarist

Mo Nazam?

I did have a copy of this at one point, but now I can't find it. Can anyone help me? Please leave a message on the board. I know it included a lesson and some transcriptions.

Guitar Player, 08/90: Finding The Uncommon Chord (Miscellaneous transcriptions) (graphic version)

Paul Bordeaux

This is an article which through various fragments of Allan's tunes seeks to describe his approach to chords. The excerpts include material from "Devil Take The Hindmost", "Metal Fatigue", "Panic Station", "Atavachron" and "Material Real".

IM&RW, 03/91: On The Level

Mo Nazam

This article explores Allan's involvement with Level 42. The interview also deals with Allan's knowledge of music theory and his approach to soloing, and the usual tech and gear questions. Allan also discusses his attitude towards being a rock or jazz player, a subject he has expressed rather different views on through the years.

This article is marred by rather poor editing, which results in more typos than I can recall seeing in any of the other articles. The headline used within the magazine, "Hold the front page," could indicate that this story was added at the last minute, which might be the reason for excessive typos.

Facelift, issue 2: (overview 76-79)

Phil Howitt

This is an overview of Allan's recordings between 1976-79. "Facelift" is (was) a fanzine published by Phil Howitt which deals mainly with the bands on the "Canterbury Scene", such as Soft Machine and Gong, which is why Allan is featured here, and which is also evident in the perspective of the story.

Facelift, issue 3 : Allan Holdsworth: In The 80's (overview)

Martin Mycock

This is a story that details Allan's activities in the 80's in a comprehensive way. It is a follow-up to the previous "Facelift" article.

Guitar Player, 01/92: 25 Who Shook The World

(compiled quotes)

Tom Mulhern

This is a story that ran in Guitar Player's 25th anniversary issue, and which is made out of compiled quotes from previous interviews.

The Guitar Magazine, 12/92:

Interview Extra

Mo Nazam

Can anyone help me with a copy of this story?

1993 Whole Guitar Book (Musician special edition), 1993: Joe Satriani Meets Allan Holdsworth

Matt Resnicoff

Can anyone help me with a copy of this story?, 01/93: Creating Imaginary Backdrops

(This link goes directly to the original website.)

Anil Prasad

This interview starts off on the subject of "Wardenclyffe Tower", before moving on to the SynthAxe and Allan's reasons for downplaying its role, and then brings up the dichotomy between Allan's critical acclaim and his lack of commercial success. "Velvet Darkness" is discussed, along with the John Stevens albums, which Allan considers to be outright bootlegs. Allan shares a few brief comments on bands of the past, before Chad Wackerman's "Forty Reasons" album is discussed briefly, and the interview ends with a few general questions about Allan's views on current music trends. It's one of the few stories outside the guitar mag realm, which makes for a slightly different and quite interesting perspective.

Guitar Player, 02/93: Blinded By Science

Chris Gill

The "Blinded by science" article centers on the release of the "Wardenclyffe Tower" album. Allan talks about Nikolai Tesla, who was the source of inspiration for the album title. The story draws on the parallels between Holdsworth and Tesla, both having problems getting proper recognition for their work.

Guitar Player, 02/93: Line Games (misc. transcriptions, graphic version

Jesse Gress

This is a collection of various fragments of Allan's solo work. Sadly, the fragments aren't referenced, so it's hard to know which tunes they are taken from.

Guitar Player, 05/93: Unrewarded Geniuses

Guitar Player, 11/93: California Weenie vs. Mr Terdley

Reader's letters (note that both these links go to the same document, only with different bookmarks.)

These are letters that were printed following the previous article in Guitar Player. There's a note of praise from one reader, while another one has a problem with Allan's attitude. There's also a note from guitar maker Bill DeLap on some of Allan's custom guitars. But most interesting is the fact that Allan chooses to respond to the criticism directed at him regarding his attitude, with a headline that reveals a hitherto unknown talent for biting sarcasm.

The Guitar Magazine, 05/93: Axe Maniax

Dominic Salmon

Allan talks about his switch to Steinbergers after the SynthAxe company went defunct. As far as I know, though, Allan has been using Steinbergers since at least 1987, whereas the story suggests that this is a more recent change.

Atavachron web site, 1994: Allan Holdsworth: An interview

Chris Hoard

This is an extensive interview with Allan, with additional input from Ken Kubernik and Mick Porter. The interview covers a broad territory, and is rather loose in form, more like a conversation at a cafe than a typical "promo interview" kind of situation. Apparently, more than a few beers were consumed during the session...

Atavachron web site, 1994: Allan Holdsworth: A biography

Chris Hoard

This quite extensive biography was originally published on the now defunct Atavachron website. It is written by Chris Hoard, who contributed the text for the "Finding The Uncommon Chord" book.

Guitar, 07/94: Makin' Trax

Jon Chappell

This story focuses on the recording of Hard Hat Area and details the setup in Allan's home studio. He also talks about the reasons for limiting the use of the SynthAxe.

Facelift , #12: No Secrets (interview)

Phil Howitt

Unfortunately, I can't find my copy of this story. As far as I remember, the interview focuses on Allan's early work, and his involvement with the "Canterbury scene". This is the only story I know of where Allan talks about Igginbottom. I'll see if I can dig it up somewhere, but would naturally like some help if you can offer it. There's also a discography, supplied by E Kord.

MusikerMagasinet, 12/96: Med Siktet Innställt På Total Kontroll (article in Swedish)

Lars Reisdal

This story from a Swedish mag is also hiding in a box somewhere. I'll do some digging, but please let me know if you can help. A translation into English would be nice, as well., 2000: Audiostreet Featured Artists

(This link goes directly to the original website.)

Mike Flynn

This web story was published around the release of "The Sixteen Men Of Tain", but starts off with Allan talking about his reasons for moving stateside. The story then moves on to the new album, briefly touching on "None Too Soon", and the way it made him look for presenting his music with a slightly different sound. Allan also makes some stark remarks about the British music scene. The Sixteen Men Of Tain

(This link goes directly to the original website.)

This interview is in Spanish! If anyone could help translate, it would be great!, 04/00: Allan Holdsworth in exclusive LMS interview

(This link goes directly to the original website.)

This rather short story brings up early influences, the "Tain" album and the Gnarly Geezer label, before moving on to gear/tech questions.

Fuzz, 05/00: Att söka det oförfalskade


I just recently got my hands on this story from the Swedish guitar mag "Fuzz", and I hope to be back with more info soon.

Guitar Player, 06/00: "Pickups"

Shawn Hammond

This a short notice on The Sixteen Men Of Tain, detailing the gear that was used during recording.

Guitarist, 06/00: Whisky Galore

Neville Marten

This article focuses on the recent release of The Sixteen Men Of Tain, and then there's a general discussion on Allan's past, his influences and philosophy on music, and his gear.

Jazz Times, 08/00: One Man Of 'Trane

Bill Milkowski

Allan talks about John Coltrane, and there's the usual recap of his career and gear. The conversation then turns to The Sixteen Men Of Tain, and the motivation behind it, as well as the influence Novak and Carpenter have on the direction of the music.

Updated: February 1, 2001
Scheduled update: March 1, 2001

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