60 seconds with… Gordon Giltrap

From the GT archives - A minute with a great guitarist is enough to discover what really makes them tick. Here we quiz Mr Gordon Giltrap.

Who was your first influence to play the guitar?

Hank Marvin

What was the first guitar you really lusted after?

It was a Hofner Committee

What was the best gig you ever did?

Playing at the Symphony Hall in Birmingham a few years back, where I performed solo and then with the Sheffield Philharmonic Orchestra performing my piece for guitar and String Orchestra, The Brotherhood.

That was followed by a set with Raymond Burley; then a few songs with my old producer Rod Edwards plus vocalists Gilly Darby and Andy Reiss; and then finally a set with my old mate Rick Wakeman.

I was exhausted by the end of it all but it was a great experience!

And your worst playing nightmare?

Far too many to mention, but here's one example: playing to a handful of people at a club in Nottingham just a few days after playing to 2000 people at Birmingham's Symphony Hall.

That was pretty depressing and in my book the stuff of nightmares! As an artist it makes one feel worthless. That of course was not the fault of those good people who DID turn up to hear me play!

What's the most important musical lesson you ever learnt?

In the early '70s I was deeply into Django Reinhardt and wanted desperately to nail his style and sound, such was my passion for his music.

In order to do that I wanted to obtain a Selmer Maccaferri. I contacted my old friend the late John Pearce to see if he could get me one as he had the contacts. He assured me that he could, and then asked why I wanted one?

I explained that I wanted SO much to sound like the great man. John then went on to say that in his opinion I had the most unique guitar sound and style he had ever heard, and that many players spend a lifetime trying to create their own distinctive sound; sometimes never finding it.

John went on to say that I had already achieved that, so why bother to try and sound like someone else! From that point onwards I tried my best to continue ploughing my own furrow with the way I played and to sound like ME.

When I listen to Tommy Emmanuel and John Etheridge I know I made the right decision. Those guys are just the masters of that style and genre!

Do you still practise?

You bet I do. I try to play every day, and I'm still trying to hang on to what I have, and at 63 I'm still eternally grateful to be still playing almost as well as I did 20 years ago!

Do you have a pre-gig warm-up routine?

Yes, it's my old chestnut A Dublin Day which still presents technical challenges for me.

If you could put together a fantasy band with you in it, who would the other players be (dead or alive)?

Troy Donokley, Gerry Douglas, John G Perry, Simon Phillips, Rick Wakeman, John Etheridge, Peter Green, Clive Carroll, Raymond Burley.

Who do you think is the single greatest guitarist that's ever lived?

There have been SO many, and some of them I have had the pleasure and privilege to have worked with. But Julian Bream really stands out as being (along with John Williams) probably the greatest guitarist and lutenist that has ever lived.

I met him once... God I was SO nervous!

Is there a solo by another guitarist that you really wish you had played?

Chambertin by Bert Jansch, God rest his soul.

What's the solo/song of your own of which you're most proud?

Heartsong did SO much for me and continues to, but my personal favourite has got to be Down The River. A piece inspired by a tuning that I acquired from a certain editor of a certain guitar magazine. Nuff said methinks!

What would you like to be remembered for?

Writing tunes that have touched people's lives.