The Guitarist
Coming soon, The Guitarist is a story that begins among the random fortunes of war and concludes in a world-famous music school and jazz festival. Although I’ve played guitar in groups and bands, taught the instrument and music to young people and currently teach my grandson to play, this novel is not the story of my life. I tell the tale largely through the eyes, the life and loves of Warwick James. An unassuming ordinary lad with no formal musical training, he was orphaned when a Luftwaffe weather plane was shot down over South Wales one Sunday morning. Out of a clear sky the wreckage of this aircraft crashed through the roof of his home where his mother and her lodger were wrapped in post-coital bliss. From that modest start I tell the story of the people who grew popular music from its inauspicious beginnings as the background to sexual entertainment and folk culture to the huge, over- arching industry it is today. Sadly it’s not entirely a honourable or decent tale. Often it’s involved with the less attractive aspects of people’s lives, racism, corruption, drugs and other illegal actvities. Despite this it provides a soundtrack to almost everything we do today. This is not a dry history of music for had it not been for the invention of records and recording, music would still be mainly the preserve of the wealthy and privileged. Records took music to the world. While it made a few people very wealthy, others barely scraped a living fulfilling the dreams and desires of ordinary people. From the birth of jazz in the bordellos of the Old South through Country and Western, Rock and Roll, Soul, the Brit invasion eventually to the complexities of late 20th century popular music, Warwick James and people like him added an extra dimension to people’s lives. Yet the economics of the recording industry meant that most popular music was actually recorded by the same two or three dozen musicians who remained un-named and un-publicised. By luck and innate talent, Warwick James became one of those musicians, groups of whom existed where the largest recording companies had their studios. The musicians’ value lay in their ability to play with little or no rehearsal in whatever style or idiom whatever music the producers needed. That meant the recording industry was efficient and profitable but reduced the groups and bands behind the ‘name’ singers to mere props, required only to mime in the TV studios and have their photographs taken for the album covers. Of course like all art based on technology that couldn’t last. Once again economics demanded that the ‘name’ artistes and bands perform in ever-larger venues and stadiums where it became increasingly difficult for talented musicians to cover for the ‘names’. Later in his life and like many musicians who grew up and matured in the golden age of recording, Warwick takes the opportunity to work exclusively with a supremely talented jazz pianist and singer, Eva Cantrell. Through Eva he becomes involved in a new European Jazz Foundation, and a prestigious music festival. And there Warwick gets the biggest surprise of his life, as my readers will discover.