Over the last couple of years, so many rock icons have been dying, the latest being Allan Holdsworth (no relation to the bicycle manufacturer) on 4/15/2017, a little known “guitarist’s guitarist”, who wanted to be a saxophonist (his parents could not afford one, so he took up guitar instead), one of his childhood inspirations being John Coltrane who he is now compared to for his ability to improvise.
His second life long passion was road cycling, one of the reasons he moved from England to Southern California in the early 1980’s, so he could ride in the hills. Before that “Holdsworth’s early career was frought with desperation and dry spells, and from his late teens through his mid-twenties music was a mostly sporadic venture and hobby; he supported himself primarily repairing bicycles during this time.”
Photo source: wikipedia.
A true iconoclast, he dismissed one of his most well known classic recordings with the progressive rock supergroup U.K.: “I detested it, I thought it was crap, I didn’t even want to be involved in it. A lot of people like the things I hate the most” he said in a 1983 interview.
As can happen with some geniuses, he was very individualistic and wanted to do his own thing, referring to U.K.: “he objected to the organized structures of a major touring band and left the group after its first self-titled album in 1978.”, the result of which, he reportedly died poor and without the mainstream fame he likely could have had, but happier with his own solo projects.
Photo source: Daughter Louise Holdsworth’s facebook page (notice the two bicycle wheels in the upper right hand corner behind the Holdsworth family).
The ‘happy ending’, if you can use that phrase here, is that a gofundme campaign which set out to raise $20,000.00 for his funeral expenses has already broken $107,000.00 as of this post, a testament to how his death has impacted his fans.
Photo Source: Allan Holdsworth Family Memorial gofundme page
Countless musicians have praised Allan Holdsworth’s guitar playing and innovative, independent nature, and are paying their respects including Bill Bruford (Yes, King Crimson, U.K., Genesis), Eddie Jobson (Roxy Music, U.K., Frank Zappa), Jean-Luc Ponty (Frank Zappa), John McLaughlin (Tony Williams Lifetime, Mahavishnu Orchestra), Stanley Clarke (Return to Forever), Dweezil Zappa, Vernon Reid (Living Colour), Steve Vai (Frank Zappa), and Eddie Van Halen (Van Halen) who once said “He is the best in my book”.
RIP Allan Holdsworth (6 August 1946 – 15 April 2017).