Sunday, September 19, 2010

Hank Marvin - Influential Guitarist

When I was just little kid, maybe about 6 or 7 a record came into my possession. The year would have been 1968 or so. It was a 45 rpm, on the Atlantic label. I am fairly certain it came to me by my uncle who was a DJ in the early 60s.

The record was by the Shadows, a band from England formed in the late 50s. They were one of the first bands to use the four-member rock-group format - lead guitar, rhythm guitar, bass guitar and drums.

The songs on the 45 were “The Frightened City” and “FBI”. The song “FBI” caught my young ears, many years before I ever learned to play guitar. To this day, when I take out this record and play it, it brings back memories of me sitting in my room, with my old 45 rpm record player by my side, discovering the joy of rock guitar.

Hank Marvin was the lead guitarist and main soloist in the Shadows. He quickly became one of, if not the best, guitarists in England.

He played and owned the first Fender Stratocaster in the UK, serial number 34346, finished in Fiesta Red, with gold hardware. This guitar, with its vibrato arm, contributed to the Shadows' sound. The guitar was imported from America by Cliff Richard.

His tome was achieved using this Stratocaster, a Vox amplifier (AC15 and AC30 models) and a tape echo machine.

The story on the Stratocaster goes like this:
In 1959, Marvin and Richard searched through a Fender catalogue to find the model of guitar played by James Burton, Ricky Nelson's lead guitarist. They assumed that Burton's guitar was a Stratocaster, because the most expensive guitar in the brochure was a gold-plated example with a red body and a one-piece Maple neck. Burton, however, played the telecaster, and the Stratocaster was a relatively new model, available only to special order.

Richard made the arrangements and the chosen guitar was imported specially for Marvin, who used it between 1959 and 1961. It remained Richard's property and was returned to him when Jennings Musical Instruments outfitted the whole group with matching Fiesta Red Fender guitars, which featured necks with rosewood fingerboards.

Hank Marvin was VERY important to the world of rock guitar. He influenced countless young guitarists all over the world, including George Harrison, David Gilmour, Mark Knopfler, Gary Moore, Ritchie Blackmore, Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page and many more. He was not a star in America, as the Shadows never really made it big here. But in the U.K. and much of Europe, his impact was great.

His use of the Stratocaster was also important, as not many well known guitarists were using them, other than Buddy Holly. The Stratocast was not the top of the line guitar in the Fender catalog at that time, with the Jazzmaster and Jaguar being ahead of it.

Hank is still actively playing guitar, recording and performing all over the world.
Here are but a few of the many videos that are on YouTube.

FBI - Not sure how they managed to dance like that and play at the same time!


Apache - the first big hit


Sleepwalk - one the best instrumentals ever. Rockin' with tuxes on!


With another guitar great, Dick Dale

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