Allan Holdsworth (August 6, 1946 in Bradford, West Yorkshire - April 15, 2017) was a British jazz guitarist and composes, particularly active in jazz/fusion. He is most acclaimed for his technical skill and the complexity of his compositional and improvisational work.
"Well, there's one other guy whose work I know who should be included in that list who I respect and that's Allan Holdsworth." - Frank Zappa, The Frank Zappa Interview Picture Disk, pt.2
But once something becomes stylized, it becomes rigidly marked by the public. The notion of a "guitar solo" has preconceptions placed on it, even if it's Allan Holdsworth who does it, no matter how amazing or how frighteningly original; people automatically refute it because it's supposed to be selfindulgent or "for musicians." It's almost like things become iconographic and somehow lose their value for outsiders. Frank Zappa: "Well, whose fault is that? That's what writers do. Musicians don't do that. The average person doesn't sit around thinking about the "iconographic problems of a gultar solo." You're talking about a sociological, emotional phenomenon associated with the need of a writer to earn a living by describing something which is very difficult to write about: music. And the hardest thing to write about is that kind of music, when it's really personal, when a guy is really trying to do something, which I think Allan Holdsworth is. He's a brilliant musician. And when you start digging the thesaurus out and delving into things like "iconographic" and tacking shit like that onto stories about guitar solos, well, [laughs] then the problems begin! A guy might listen to it and go "I like it" or "I don't like it," but to have it explained to him by a writer that "we now have an iconographic problem," that's another can of worms, wouldn't you say?" - Poetic Justice
In numerous interviews, you've cited the same guitarists you mentioned in your essay as the players who really moved you – Johnny Guitar Watson, Elmore James, Guitar Slim, early B. B. King ...
Well, you'd have to include Wes Montgomery and Allan Holdsworth in there, too, I'm afraid.
Allan Holdsworth seems like a far cry from Guitar Slim.
When I listen to music, I listen to what the substance is, not necessarily the style of it. I've heard bluegrass players that knock me out, too.
Do you think the types of music that touch you are still "a direct extension of a personality of the men who played them."
Well, I get the same sensation listening to Wes Montgomery. You hear Wes when you hear him play, and the same thing with Holdsworth. He puts his personality, something about him as a person, into playing, and I don't detect "watch me show off now" – there is none of that syndrome. That's the thing that is most obnoxious about current guitar, because when people are attempting to play the guitar in a competitive way, in order to do somebody else's style but just do it faster, that's great from an Olympic competition kind of a standpoint, but I don't think it's particularly musical. And since I like music, it would not necessarily excite me to hear someone playing something real fast, if it wasn't unique to the individual. - Frank Zappa On... The '80s Guitar Clone