British jazz fusion stylist Allan Holdsworth — the a guitar hero’s guitar hero — passed away yesterday at age 70.
Eddie Van Halen proclaimed Holdsworth “the best, in my book,” “the man,” and “so damned good that I can’t cop anything.” Early on, Ed would often cite Eric Clapton as his main influence, but as the years went on, he mentioned Holdsworth just as often.
The earliest quote we could find of quote from Eddie Van Halen mentioning Allan Holdworth goes back to 1979. When in Japan, Eddie told the interviewer the guitarist he most wanted to see play was Holdsworth. Later, in 1982, the two met and struck up a friendship out of mutual respect.
Eddie soon paved the way for Holdsworth’s I.O.U. Band to sign with Warner Bros. Edward wanted to work with Allan so bad he said he’d be happy to coproduce Holdsworth’s first album along with Ted Templeman and Donn Landee, but while Van Halen’s Diver Down tour extended past the end of the year and into South America in 1983, Holdsworth decided he couldn’t wait any longer, and forged ahead with producer Ted Templeman. Edward was seriously disappointed, as he also was looking forward to playing with guest vocalist Jack Bruce from Cream.
The cause of Allan’s death has not been announced. His daughter Louise broke the sad news to fans via Facebook. She wrote, “It is with heavy hearts that we notify everyone of the passing of our beloved father. We would appreciate privacy and time while we grieve the loss of our dad, grandad, friend and musical genius.
“We will update close friends and family when service arrangements have been made and will notify the public of an open memorial service, which all would be welcome. We are undeniably still in shock with his unexpected death and cannot begin to put into words the overwhelming sadness we are experiencing. He is missed tremendously.
— Louise, Sam, Emily & Rori”
Click here to support the Allan Holdsworth Family Memorial.
The sad news of Allan’s death inspired many musicians to post tributes on social media:
Neal Schon (Journey): “RIP Allan Holdsworth Wow… how very sad. Enjoy life it’s been 2 very heavy years… God Bless.”
Mike Portnoy: “F*ck!!!!! RIP Allan Holdsworth….One of the all-time greats and innovators…no Holdsworth = no Eddie Van Halen”.
Peter Frampton” “Oh no so sad to hear this. Brilliant unique guitar master player. Rest In Peace Alan.”
Steve Lukather: “I cant believe it! Allan Holdsworth, legendary guitarist of our generation ! He changed the game + was the sweetest guy ever… RIP”
Eddie & Allan Jam!
In 2013, Eddie recalled jamming with Holdsworth:
“Allan and I did have the opportunity to play live together a couple of times. The first time was by complete accident. I was in the process of helping him get a record deal with Warner Bros., so I picked him up, took him to some meetings and somehow he ended up spending the night at my house. When we woke up, Allan said, “Shit, I have to be at GTI (Guitar Institute of Technology) at noon to do a seminar.” So I raced him down there just in time. Before I knew it, I was on stage with him and his band, and we were both answering questions and playing together. It was quite fun actually and very interesting, especially for the students/audience. Because Allan and I play very different, we answered the same questions very differently. I was very nervous at first because I didn’t know any of the songs, but I managed to improvise my way through it.
“The second time Allan and I played together was at The Roxy in Hollywood. I got up and played the last song with them, which was a riff that Jeff Berlin (Allan’s bass player) and I came up with, so I was more comfortable because I was familiar with what we played.”
Little know fact: When Eddie recorded the guitar solo to Michael Jackson’s “Beat It,” he used his battered red guitar and a hot-rodded Hartley Thompson amp borrowed from Allan Holdsworth.