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General News

July 2012 News Update

July 2012 News Update
The Queen’s Garden Party

Hilary and I decided to take a couple of days for our London trip and booked two nights at the Ibis Hotel in Euston. We attended the garden party with brother Water Rat Melvyn Hayes and his wife Jayne. They currently live on the Isle of Wight and travelled over on the day of the event and met us at our hotel for a cup of tea before grabbing a cab to the Palace!

I mentioned in passing to Melvyn that I wouldn’t be surprised if we bumped into Sir Cliff whilst there. He asked why that should be? I replied that Cliff was around at the moment and could be in attendance. We thought no more of it, and once we were escorted in to the grounds all was going well. Lo and behold we looked across and there was Sir Cliff being interviewed by Sky Television for something.

When he finished his chat he saw us and was completely gobsmacked, bless him. Our good friend Roger Bruce was there as Cliff’s PA and was equally surprised to see us.

We were then escorted into the Palace and were asked to wait quietly whilst the Royal Family made their entrance no more than 30 feet away from us. They were all there apart from Prince William. Kate of course looked stunning!
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Well, what more can I say except the food was lovely and it was great fun watching people clock Melvyn as we wandered through for seconds of sandwiches and cake! Outside a chap came up to me to say hello. I knew his face but wasn’t quite sure who he was. It turned out to be the Mayor of Hinckley!

Hilary bought a new outfit for the event along with a hat (she hates wearing hats) and I managed to squeeze into my one and only suit. The following day we went down to my childhood area of Greenwich and saw the newly refurbished Cutty Sark. The weather was SO hot and we made the most of it, by strolling through the park and having tea at the Royal Observatory.

My late parents would have been so knocked out by the fact that we had been invited to go inside the grounds of this great palace. It was an honour and a privilege. Long live the Queen!


A wonderful guitar destroyed

I finally decided to sell my beautiful Martin M3M, the one designed in conjunction with George Martin and signed by him and Chris Martin. I recorded Em’s Tune on it and had used it in a DVD clip, apart from that it wasn’t really getting played so I decided that someone else should have the pleasure of it.

To cut a long story short the guitar was collected from my home by UPS and delivered the following day to my friend Dave Crozier’s shop, Old School Guitars. Dave told me he had a possible buyer for it! When it arrived the poor thing had been destroyed. I haven’t seen the damage but was told by Dave that it looked as though a Fork Lift truck spike had gone through the VERY solid multi-ply case and totally wrecked this rare thing of sonic beauty. UPS couldn’t have done a better job if that had driven a pick axe through the case!

Needless to say Dave is devastated by this and completely outraged by a company that sells itself on care in handling the goods they freight. I think it is going to take some time to get the insurance claim sorted so watch this space my friends. Fortunately I have many lovely guitars here at home to play and take my mind off this unnecessary calamity.

The lesson learned here...

DON’T TRUST ANY OF THESE CARRIERS WITH YOU PRECIOUS INSTRUMENTS!

Jim Marshall Tribute

Hilary and I were invited to the Jim Marshall Memorial / Tribute afternoon at Bletchley. The whole thing was hosted by my old friend Nicko McBrain from Iron Maiden. Many kind words were spoken but the finest moment came from Dame Cleo Lane who injected the right balance of humour and realism to the proceedings. They gave the great man a fine send-off methinks.

RIP James.

Recent discovery

I received some amazing news from a Mr David Renwick who had unbeknown to him an historic guitar given to his Mother by the late great legendary guitar maker John Bailey. This guitar must be the first guitar he ever made and dates back to 1955.This discovery came about through a conversation David was having with his Mum saying that maybe that old classical guitar that my friend John gave me could be spruced up a bit. David said who is John? She replied John Bailey!

I shall leave the rest up to David to tell you in his own words in his own words....

An Astonishing Discovery
By David Renwick


My mother is rather more impressed with my musicianship than is deserved.  To my great disappointment I am nothing more than a Sunday league picker.  Nonetheless, knowing that I might be able to help, my mother wondered if I could have a look at the old guitar that has for decades been hung on a wall or stood in a corner.  I picked up the careworn relic and we started to talk.

Mum said, “My friend John made it. It was his first guitar.”

Driven by nothing more than well intended conversation, I asked, “John who?”

John Bailey.” She replied.  A moment or two later I drew breath once again.

John, his new wife Maureen, my mother Margaret, and Larry - the man who would become my step father nearly half a century later - were the best of friends.  John, Margaret and Larry were all teachers at Haverstock School, the first Comprehensive in the country.  It was quite the Bohemian place in fifties London and therein lies many another tale.

John was the woodwork teacher and it was during his time at Haverstock that he made his first guitar, a decade before he would eventually become, THE John Bailey.

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As a token of their friendship, and probably long before his career as a luthier beckoned, John gave the first guitar he ever made to Larry sometime prior to autumn 1958.  It has rarely been played over the course of the last five decades.  It has collected dust and the odd minor injury along the way but nonetheless it has been a constant presence and a visible reminder of a friendship that survived until Larry’s passing in 2007 and John’s in 2011.  Happily Mum and Maureen remain friends to this day.

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Then in June 2012 this Sunday league picker took a polite interest in his mother’s life and some old guitar.  Such was the nature of the man that, despite close abiding friendship, neither Mum nor Larry had any idea of how the instruments John created became, and remain, the prized possessions of a fortunate few who are blessed to own, or blessed to have heard one of them.  And now I have been entrusted with the care of this unique instrument, the first guitar by luthier John Bailey.

I think Gordon summed it up when he wrote to me:

"This guitar IS of historical importance because it was created by one of THE great pioneers of British guitar making. John wasn't a player, but by God in his hands he created beautiful and unique works of art.”

Maureen is going to provide the guitar with one of John's few remaining labels and a letter briefly detailing the history of the guitar. She met John in 1954. She remembers the instrument well, and remembers John making it in the workshops of Haverstock school in London in about 1955/1956. John about 23 or 24 at the time was keen on Skiffle, wanted a guitar and wanted to play. Quality imports were expensive so he set out to make his own and this is indeed the product of his labours and lead to his later career. My stepfather was quite taken with the guitar and thus John gave it to him in 1957/1958 and in his and my mother's hands she has remained ever since.

As a memento of friendships spanning more than five decades this instrument is unlikely to be sold.  In the short term it will be placed in the hands of luthier Roger Williams of Lichfield who will undertake the restoration.

Suffice it to say John, the man, is clearly held in great affection, and his instruments speak for themselves.


Gigs of note - Acoustic Festival of Britain 2012, Mayfest

This was my second appearance at this lovely festival, and everything was with us on the day. Fantastic weather, a very impressive list of artists appearing and for my concert in an intimate domed tent, the best audience an artist could wish for.

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My concert was set for 8 o’clock on the Saturday, and Joan Armatrading was following me but on the main stage. The organisers wanted me on the main stage originally but there was some logistics reason why this didn’t happen. On the down side I had no help whatsoever with my equipment, but I in my usual fashion just got on with it. The guy who was supposed to be doing my sound said that he’d hardly done any live mixing before, so that didn’t really inspire confidence, but I have to say that once we got going he got me a great sound so a big THANKYOU to him for that.

Thanks to Sean Rowe for the photos.

By ten to eight there were just a handful of folk waiting for me to play including good friends Chico, and Gary Hudson and his lovely lady Lorraine.

By 8 o’clock there must have been at least 500 bodies crammed into the tent and outside. They were with me all the way. As an artist I couldn’t have wished for a better audience and I lost no time in telling them so and saying 'a crowd like you makes what I do that much more worthwhile'.

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Prior to the gig I had the great pleasure of meeting Glenn Tilbrook and catching part of his superb solo set. What a great songwriter he is and of course a fellow South East London boy from exactly the same part of town where I grew up. I’m delighted to report that he was in attendance at my show. What a great thing to have him in the audience. I received two standing ovations at the end, and Glenn was deeply moved by my music and lost no time in telling me. Wow!

The organisers of the festival want me back two years hence and God Willing we shall be there. Thank you Mayfest for making that day one of the most memorable of my career thus far.

Water Yeat, Lake District

This delightful village hall in the beautiful Lake District was a joy to play. It was a special evening because in attendance were our pals Scott and Jane and the family of the late and much loved Loren Jansch. The following day we were invited to spend some quality with Loren’s family and member good times spent with Bert and Loren. It meant a great deal to Hilary and I to have these special people at the concert.

This is still VERY early days for the family as a whole but they are showing great strength and getting there slow but sure.

JHS Event

Although this isn’t a public event it is still worth mentioning because of my major involvement with the company and future product. All at JHS spoil us rotten and all I have to do during the course of three days is play for about 20 minutes twice a day.

On this occasion Maestro Raymond Burley was there so we performed a few Double Vision favourites for the dealers and distributors. Artists performing at the event were Jerry Donahue who has a signature guitar out with the company, likewise Geoff Whitehorn (Procol Harum), Dave Caldwell (Bad Company), Graham Oliver (Saxon), John Verity (Argent) and quite a few more artists. I went with my usual armoury of [Vintage guitars and came back with four more having purchased a couple of cracking Fret King guitars. My Hilary is SO understanding. Bless her.

Whilst I was there I had the great pleasure of seeing two GG Deluxe prototypes ready for launching next year. Exciting times ahead! Even Ray Burley has a new supa dupa deluxe signature model planned for next year as well!

Here’s to next year’s Event.

James Taylor news item

Many of you will remember me relating that amazing story about the day I met James Taylor and him really hassling me to jam with him on that Radio Show. Well, here's the proof. It is such an amazing story I can't believe it happened, but it did. Wonder if James remembers this little English bloke who was reticent about playing with him?

Extract of email to JHS’s Dennis Drumm from Gerry Church in New Zealand

Tell Mr Giltrap that he’s mentioned in Tony Bramwell’s book “Magical Mystery Tours” about his time with, and after, The Beatles. He may remember working with James Taylor when he first went to Apple Records and Bramwell was promoting him through local appearances.
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From the book, “I organised a couple of promotional gigs, putting James on at the Marquee with the Strawbs, when Dave Cousins was in the band and Rick Wakeman was the keyboard player. We also did a few radio shows, like Country Meets Folk with Wally Whyton and Gordon Giltrap.”

Thought he’d like to see one of his creations in the antipodes, Whitianga New Zealand style.

Secret Millionaire

I have had a couple of reports back about the mid June viewing of Secret Millionaire. Apparently the person in question was worth £20 million pounds.

During one clip you see him carrying a guitar case to a location and on opening the case...low and behold it was a JHS VINTAGE GG Signature mahogany model!

How great is that! The man had a fortune and could afford any guitar he chose, but instead he chose one of my guitars. One would hope he bought it because it was superior in sound to anything else he tried in his local guitar store, who knows; either way it was a lovely accolade for JHS and my guitar.


1977 Concert at the Paris Theatre recorded for broadcast by 6 Music

It’s a strange feeling listening back to concerts that I played SO many years ago. I thought I played OK, certainly with the usual GG energy but my sound was a bit thin and scratchy, probably due to the silly light gauge strings I used way back then. Still interesting to listen to all the same!
I will ALWAYS be my own worst critic!

Filming For H Clamp DVD

I spent a very pleasant two days in Stickford Lincolnshire with Rob Aitchison and Harold Houldershaw filming a DVD to go with my signature H Clamp, that wonderful piece of kit that I use exclusively in my studio at home for recording my acoustic guitars.

I love working with Harold who, over the years has filmed my Symphony Hall concert, a number of YouTube Three Parts Guitar concerts and the Double Vision DVD with maestro Ray Burley, as well as my JHS DVD.

The fun part of these DVD shoots are the bloopers, and believe me there were a number during this recent shoot, certainly enough to make them an amusing addition at the end of the DVD.

Once the DVD has been completed and ready to manufacture we intend to do the “official” launch of the product. I recorded several pieces as a performance element and used a cracking little VINTAGE V300 mahogany guitar that retails at approximately £210 and sounds really sweet. This guitar will become part of an attractive package that will include the H clamp, and a microphone. Price as yet to be decided on by the boss, but I guarantee it will be a fantastic offer. I shall sign each guitar individually to make it that much more special.

More news of the H CLAMP when it’s launched.

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This month’s featured guitar - Del Vecchio


This month’s guitar was a gift from my dear friend Paul Policarpou in Nashville. It is a very rare early 60’s Del Vecchio resonator guitar made in Brazil. The late great Chet Atkins loved these guitars for their unique sound. They are pretty crudely made but have a HUGE warm and distinct sound. Although most resonator guitars are associated with slide playing, the company say that these guitars are meant to be picked. In fact Chet used to put nylon strings on his, and boy did he make it sound beautiful!

One day I hope to get it on to album, but until then I’m looking for the right moment to get it to Roger Williams to do a neck re-set so that I can get the playing action down.







Garstang Guitar Shop

Whilst driving up so stay with friends Scott and Jane in Ulverston, Hilary and I dropped into our favourite coffee shop in Garstang. After coffee we always go for a little mooch round the town. Since we were there last a new antique shop had opened up along with a music shop called Crystal Clear Music. I can never resist going into guitar shops being the anorak/guitar pervert that I am.

Once through the door I was confronted with a lovely shop, beautifully set out with a superb range of instruments including BOTH my Vintage 6 and 12 string guitars along with much of the JHS catalogue. As I entered the shop Steve the shop owner appeared, and  things started to happen 'Oh my God, Gordon Giltrap has just walked into my shop' I heard him cry.'Jill come and see who has just walked through the door' From then on it just got better and better. Cups of tea were offered and requests for photographs etc.

What a lovely couple Steve and Jill are. Whilst there he played me his own 'interesting' version of Heartsong and told me how that piece of music had sort of changed his life! I offered to sign the guitars and even bought a lovely hybrid Telecaster that he insisted on offering at a price I couldn’t refuse. So all in all a good result all round. I have found a cracking new guitar shop and Steve and Jill have the memory (and a little cash) to remind them of our visit.

Steve insisted on giving me a few gifts that included a new footstool, a set of strings, and a nice little pouch for picks as a key ring.

If you are ever in the area of Preston do drop in to number 2 Bridge Street Garstang and say 'hi' to Steve and Jill...01995 608848.

Another couple of gigs of note this month

Havant Arts Centre on the 15th of this month that for me was very special. Attending that concert were our good friends Sue Martin the artist and Neil Hubbard the session guitarist. The audience were 10 out of 10!

The following night was Farncombe where my special guest was the brilliant Tristan Seume. Tristan was in top form and it was great to see his folks there (whom we stayed with) and Sue and Mike Holton travelled all the way from Kent for the gig... bless em. I made a right howler during On Camber Sands, and for the first time in my career I used an expletive on stage! Sue was filming it so you never know it MAY get on to YouTube.

I must confess to feeling a tad tired on the night and not firing on all cylinders.

As I write this I look forward to seeing my pal Woody Mann for tonight’s concert in Wimbourne.

We shall probably perform a couple of tunes together at the end. I’m not great at improvising but somehow Woody makes the journey that much easier!