My first guitar was a loaner from my uncle, a big boxtop Kimus. As I remember it was huge, but a guitar nonetheless. My very first lick on it was the intro to a song called Poison Ivy, and I learned the rest of the song at a much later time.
Record sleeves, magazines and an occasional matinee were the only way to see what these musicians looked like. Live shows from any of these high caliber guys were unheard of in this part of the world in those days. All the guitar heroes back then played big hollow body jazz guitar and it sounds as good today as it did a few decades back.
When Cliff Richards and The Shadows were introduced here in the beginning of the 60s was when things started to happen for me. Here was a singer with a great smooth voice that can rock, and his great back up band, "TheShadows", who played and looked totally different from all others. The lead guitar wore thick-rimmed glasses and he played this awesome red Fender Stratocaster; not one of those big jazz guitars. Wow!! Pretty smart looking bunch of guys, I thought.
At that age I was already able to pick out riffs from the records by playing them over and over again, and by the time you finished with that one song, it was burned deep into your young brain.
I was lucky enough to have an uncle who also played guitar - and still does today - and is one of the most respected jazz musicians in the country. He had taken me in to play rhythm guitar in his band - much to my parents disapproval. And guess what???... they played Shadows music in this band. And the best part was that they didn't have a singer who could sing Cliff Richard songs, so I was glad to show myself off to them. She's Gone was my debut.
I was promoted to the lead guitar position in the band when my uncle was recruited by a well known band. It was a chance for him to make some money and I was so eager for the challenge. My uncle's old red German-made Hofner came with my new position. Well, it's not the red Strat, but close enough, I thought.
The band and I must have learned at least fifty Cliff and Shadows songs, mainly Shadows. We would do their sycronized walk as it was done in the film The Young Ones and amazingly enough all the bands in town during that time were doing pretty much the same thing we were, so there was a lot of enthusiasm among the bands to get the precise sound of this English band down.
My band entered a battle of the band competition and won, and the winning prize was a set of brand new intruments from the local music store. A salmon-coloured '62 Stratocaster equipped with a WEM echo unit was part of the prize.
The band and I continued playing the music of The Shadows until one day I heard a song called Please Please Me by another English band who called themselves the Beatles. But that's another story.
Today, I'm working with a record company here in town and have been for many years. Every other week a few other old musicians and I relive the days of Cliff and the Shadows by playing at a local club. Everytime I play Kon Tiki it feels pretty much the same as it did in the early days. So, guys, thanks for the wonderful memories.