Prog Rock Fusion Icon Allan Holdsworth Dead At 70 – Tribute & Story

He was one of the most innovative, technically, original guitarist who ever lived.

His daughter Louise released the following statement on Facebook: “It is with heavy hearts that we notify everyone of the passing of our beloved father. We would appreciate privacy and time while we grieve the loss of our dad, grandad, friend and musical genius. We will update close friends and family when service arrangements have been made and will notify the public of an open memorial service, which all would be welcome. We are undeniably still in shock with his unexpected death and cannot begin to put into words the overwhelming sadness we are experiencing. He is missed tremendously. -Louise, Sam, Emily & Rori.”

There was nothing Holdsworth could not do Rock, Prog, Jazz Fusion influencing the likes of Eddie Van Halen, Joe Satriani, and Alex Lifeson among thousands of others.

Holdsworth was born in Bradford, England on August 6, 1946. Through the years I’ve had many guitarists tell me how dangerous it was to try to emulate his playing. His complex chord progressions were not for the weak and you could get lost forever in those solos.

His recording career started when he was 23 in 1969 with the one and only album from his band Igginbottom, then came Sunship with future King Crimson percussionist Jamie Muir. There were a string of projects with the group Nucleus in 1972, Tempest in 1973. His 70’s discography also included two superb albums with Soft Machine, The New Tony Williams Lifetime and Pierre Moerlen’s Gong.

Not that anyone needed convincing but you have to be on top of your game to play with violinist Jean-Luc Ponty. Holdsworth was on his # 1, the classic “Enigmatic Ocean” from 1977, 1983’s “Individual Choice” and they joined up again in 2007 for “The Atacama Experience.”

Holdsworth was the main guitarist on drummer Bill Bruford two late 70’s albums “Feels Good to Me”

“One of a Kind.”

He was a member of one of the most underrated Prog bands of all time UK on their first self titled album in 1978 with violinist/keyboardist Eddie Jobson, Bruford and bassist and vocalist John Wetton who we lost January. He also worked with Stanley Clarke and Level 42.

Holdsworth had more than a dozen studio album starting with “Velvet Darkness” in 1976 which the guitarist considered an unauthorized project after Creed Taylor’s CTI Records released the rehearsal/jam without his permission. There was “Metal Fatigue”: which AllMusic called one of the most important fusion albums of the 80’s. Holdsworth called 1993’s “Hard Hat Area” as one of his personal favorites. In 1996 the guitarist covered mostly Jazz standards on “None Too Soon,”

It was a shame that after everything he accomplished Holdsworth was not that well known outside fusion and Prog fans which is sad when you’re describing one of the best musicians of all time.

Guitarist John McLaughlin told the Union-Tribune in 2003, “Allan plays things so advanced I can’t even understand some of it, and I’ve let him know that!” – by John Beaudin

John Beaudin has been in major market radio (Edmonton, Vancouver & Calgary) for 33 years and a music journalist since 1989. He graduated from Broadcasting school as a news man so he would have the skills to write about the artists that inspired him since he bought his first album, “Madman Across The Water” by Elton John as a teen. In the 80’s Beaudin was the host of the syndicated radio show “The Cross Canada Report” which had two version (Rock and A/C). Beaudin was also asked to be a judge at the Juno Awards (Canada’s answer to the Grammys) Twice. He has anchored every position in radio including morning and afternoon drive and was a Program and Music Director for The Breeze and California 103 in Calgary. He currently hosts the popular Lovesongs at QM-FM in Vancouver and on iHeartRadio.

Check out more on


More on John Beaudin