Vandaag is het precies honderd jaar geleden dat de Britse gitarist Bert Weedon werd geboren. Zonder hem geen Shadows, of althans toch geen Hank Marvin, maar ook Eric Clapton, Brian May, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, John Lennon, Mike Oldfield, Mark Knopfler, Dave Davies, Keith Richards, Pete Townshend en Jimmy Page hebben op een of ander onbewaakt moment wel toegegeven dat ze door hem zijn beïnvloed. Net zoals bij ons Nonkel Bob had hij een eenvoudig gitaarhandboek uitgegeven (Play in a Day in 1957) en al deze gitaargoden hebben daarmee hun eerste stapjes leren zetten. In onze contreien is de man echter zo goed als onbekend, vandaar dat er zelfs geen lemma aan hem werd besteed in de Nederlandstalige Wikipedia.
Herbert Maurice William Weedon was born in London and began learning classical guitar at the age of twelve. In his teens during the 1930s, he led groups such as the Blue Cumberland Rhythm Boys and Bert Weedon and His Harlem Hotshots. He worked with leading performers including Stephane Grappelli and George Shearing, and performed with various big bands and orchestras, including those of Ted Heath and Mantovani.
He joined the BBC Show Band directed by Cyril Stapleton in the 1950s. He also worked as a session musician on many early British rock and roll and other records for artists such as Adam Faith, Billy Fury and Tommy Steele and worked as an accompanist to visiting American singers such as Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland and Nat King Cole. It is estimated that he performed on over 5,000 BBC radio broadcasts. He was also seen regularly on British television.
In 1959 he was asked by Top Rank Records to make a record as a solo guitarist. He became the first British guitarist in the UK Singles Chart, with “Guitar Boogie Shuffle” (highest position 10). “Guitar Boogie” is originally a guitar instrumental recorded by American Arthur Smith. In 1948, the song became a hit, eventually selling nearly three million copies. Since then, “Guitar Boogie” has been interpreted and recorded by a variety of musical performers and has been among the songs often cited as the first rock & roll song.
Shortly afterwards English songwriter and composer Jerry Lordan came up with the tune, titled “Apache”. Bert Weedon made the original recording in early 1960, but it remained unreleased for several months. Meanwhile, in mid-1960 the Shadows were on tour with Lordan as a supporting act. The band discovered “Apache” when Lordan played it on a ukelele. Lordan figured the tune would fit the Shadows; the band agreed and it went straight to the number one position. Now Weedon’s version was also released but it only reached the 24th position. In November 1976, however, Weedon made number one, be it for one week, in the UK Albums Chart with 22 Golden Guitar Greats, a compilation album of guitar solos.