John Etheridge


John's long and varied career includes a number of Halsall-related associations. In 1975 he was asked to join The Soft Machine [a later incarnation of Kevin Ayers' original band] and, in 1994, he released a duo album, Invisible Threads, with longtime friend Andy Summers [who played with Ollie on Kevin's Muical Expess TV Spanish show.

I have so many memories of Ollie who I heard loads and got to know a bit. I remember exactly where I was when I first heard Patto on BBC in concert. I was living in one room in Kilburn, March '71 and switched on half way through the broadcast and was absolutely floored by Ollie. This was the direction I was going in myself - but he had really nailed it. Of course, the legato thing really freaked me as I had been picking every note and thought.. blimey, you obviously don't need to!

The sound was amazing and the spontaneity and energy amazing. So obviously I went and bought Hold your Fire - incredible playing on that and Give it all Away is in my all time top five solos! I started following the band in the usual North London pubs etc. The usual gig started pretty straight with two or three tunes on which Ollie would play blistering solos, then the anarchy would set in! I actually loved all that - very funny (cod versions of Shaking all over for instance ).

I met Ollie through John Altman and went round to his place a few times when he was with Monica. I also went to some of the recordings of the Blue Traffs. Also I listened live to the broadcast of Tempest with Ollie and Holdsworth. Apparently Ollie just appeared and joined! Totally over the top broadcast - all my friends left the room (too many notes! ) - but I still love it.

I lost touch with the Kevin Ayers stuff.. And was not crazy about Boxer. Ollie Playing a Strat - not the white SG - wrong!!

At his peak, Ollie was untouchable and truly inspired and pioneering. I remember someone playing me Van Halen in 1978 as the latest dude and I thought - sounds a bit like Ollie in 1971 but not as good!!!

- John Etheridge 2016

When you start off, you want to cover everything and you want to cover all areas of playing, and gradually you specialise in one that becomes your thing. That sort of happened to me in the sense that I love Django Reinhardt and I loved Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix and I wanted to put those things together.

This was an early ambition of people of my generation who were slightly jazz-interested. So, like the other guys of my age like Ollie Halsall and Allan Holdsworth, all in different regions of the country - we were instinctively trying to put these things together in the middle and late 60s. When I heard Ollie Halsall, I realised, 'Oh God, there's somebody doing it much better than me!' "

- John Etheridge, Guitar Player magazine November 2016




Desert Island Risks

From The Spin Jazz Club, Oxford website

"Here, we present at our invitation, guests revealing 8 tracks that have had great importance in their lives and careers. Which recorded pieces fired them up to become musicians? Which tracks have influenced their careers? We begin with John Etheridge: an influential guitarist to many, himself, whose career has seen him work with a glittering array of stars, including major stints with Stéphane Grappelli, Soft Machine, Andy Summers, Nigel Kennedy and John Williams."

I’ve chosen these 8 tracks for the profound influence they had on me and my desire to play the guitar and my development and direction of travel on the instrument.”

# 8) Give it all away - Ollie Halsall (Hold Your Fire - Patto)

I got to London in 1970 and was doing ok. In March 1971 I was listening to the radio and heard a BBC ‘In Concert ‘ and this guy started up …It was one of those moments where you hear someone doing what you’ve been trying to do… and he’s there!! It was the first time I’d heard a legato approach like this (in fact it was the first anyone had heard) - fluent lines allied to a great overdrive guitar sound.

This was the uncelebrated but immortal Ollie Halsall, whose star burnt bright for a short time. This recorded solo from 1971 is genuinely, in that overworn phrase, ‘ahead of its time’ When I was told I should be raving about Eddie Van Halen in 1978 (Eruption), I was completely reminded of Ollie (I’m sure VH hadn’t heard him - nobody had). In fact so unknown was he that when I mentioned him as an influence in an interview I did for American Guitar Player magazine, they cut out the reference to him… never heard of him, so we won’t mention him (bit of a vicious circle that!)

- John Etheridge, The Spinj Jazz Club, 2022

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