Bert Weedon

One of the stumbling blocks to the growth of rock & roll in England during the 1950s, apart from the larger cultural differences with America, lay in the fact that the country had no popular guitar heroes, and no jazz or blues tradition to draw on from which one could easily emerge. The only exception to this rule was Bert Weedon, a guitar instrumentalist whose virtuoso playing on the electric instrument constituted just about the only socially acceptable incarnation of the instrument for many adults. His pop-instrumental music, for all of its virtuosity, was too tame to attract many teens who were listening to Lonnie Donegan, but the classically trained guitarist's command of the instrument and the offer of a guitar study course in his name was a way in for kids who weren't ready to start mimicking Scotty Moore or Buddy Holly, much less Les Paul, Charlie Christian, or Django Reinhardt, to get to know the instrument. Musically, he was the guitarist equivalent to Roger Williams or Ferrante & Teicher, and by the end of the 1950s, rock & roll had produced its own guitar heroes in the Shadows' Hank Marvin and Bruce Welch, and other axemen in various bands who followed, not to mention session man Big Jim Sullivan. Weedon, however, remained a sentimental favorite and a perennially popular figure in England, and was still recording guitar-driven instrumental versions of Broadway and Hollywood hits in the 1990s. He died in April 2012 at home in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, England; Bert Weedon was 91 years old. ~ Bruce Eder

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