Guitar teacher to the WorldBert Weedon

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A guitarist, Weedon was the first Brit to have a hit record with guitar music on the UK Singles Chart (in 1959, with “Guitar Boogie Shuffle”), but it was as a teacher that he made his mark. He thought learning to play the guitar was so easy that he wrote a manual for aspiring guitarists with an amazing promise in the title: Play In a Day. It has sold 2 million copies in several languages since its publication in 1957, and was the introduction to the instrument for a generation of musicians, including Eric Clapton, Brian May, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, John Lennon, Keith Richards, Pete Townshend, Sting, and many more. “I’d never have felt the urge to press on without the tips and encouragement that Play In A Day gave me,” Clapton said, and “I’ve never met a player of any consequence that doesn’t say the same thing.”

Since Weedon had, at least at first, the only electric guitar in Britain (and could sight-read music), he was the go-to guy for up-and-coming rock stars who needed a guitarist for recording sessions. He accompanied Frank Sinatra, Rosemary Clooney, and Judy Garland, and was at home with classical, jazz, pop and rock alike; the BBC hired him for its in-house band. He turned down an offer by Sinatra to be his guitarist. “He was the greatest pop singer in the world and I was immensely flattered, Weedon said later. “I thanked him very much, but I told him no. I said I’d rather be a bigger fish in a smaller pond.” Weedon was appointed the Order of the British Empire in 2001, and died at home in Buckinghamshire on April 20. He was 91.

From This is True for 22 April 2012