I got a record player from my cousin for a birthday present when I was fifteen. Until then we didn’t have anything to play records on. The first thing I bought was a Golden Guinea R & B album, in the days when R & B meant Rhythm and Blues. This had tracks by Sonny Boy Williamson, Muddy Waters, Howlin Wolf and Jimmy Rodgers. (How Many More Years is for me the best record ever made). I also soon had three EP’s in my collection; Jimmy Reed, John Lee Hooker and Snooks Eaglin.



The Snooks Eaglin tracks were great with him playing 12 string guitar with washboard accompaniment (see instrument section on and this became the mainstay of my repertoire when I became the resident artist in the local folk club aged sixteen.



At school, my art teacher Peter Gibson started a school folk club and invited numerous guest artists, notably Jo Ann and Dave Kelly and through watching Dave play I figured out the tuning he was using. I realised that the string relationship for G tuning was like an A major chord shape but instead of tuning the second, third and fourth strings up the first, fifth and sixth were tuned down.



I had read the liner notes on a blues anthology that Robert Johnson played Crossroads in open G and tried tuning to a standard G major and it just didn’t sound right. Now I had the tuning from Dave and a brass tube from my Dad’s shed I was up and running with slide guitar which in those days (c 1967) was always referred to as ‘bottleneck’.



Also in 1967 I went with Keith Trussell to see an Australian folk guitarist accompanied by a guy playing a lagerphone; a broomstick with bottletops screwed on it and played with a serrated stick. Keith went home and made one and I gave John Randall a washboard and with Ian Anderson playing blocks of wood with drumsticks we hit East Grinstead folk club.



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