Gordon Giltrap

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Gordon Giltrap
Giltrap in 2019
Giltrap in 2019
Background information
Born (1948-04-06) 6 April 1948 (age 72)
Brenchley, Kent
GenresProgressive rock,[1] classical,[1] folk,[1] Celtic[1]
  • Guitarist
  • composer

Gordon Giltrap, MBE (born 6 April 1948) is an English guitarist and composer. His music crosses several genres. He has been described as "one of the most revered guitarists of his generation" who has drawn praise from fellow musicians including Marillion's Steve Rothery, Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page, Deep Purple's Ritchie Blackmore.[1] [2]

Early life[edit]

Giltrap was born on 6 April 1948 in the village of Brenchley, Kent, England. He started to play the guitar at the age of 12 and received no formal tuition, choosing to develop his own style and technique.


Giltrap's career took off in the 1960s while performing in the folk music scene in London alongside contemporaries such as Bert Jansch, John Renbourn, and Mike Oldfield. At 18, Giltrap signed with Transatlantic Records and released his debut studio albums, Gordon Giltrap (1968) and Portrait (1969). Both feature himself on guitar and lead vocals; Giltrap considered his lyrics as "naive".[3] The track "Willow Pattern" from his debut attracted the praise of guitarist Ralph McTell for the imagery it portrayed.[4] "Gospel Song", also from his first, features a more aggressive strumming style,[5] influenced by Pete Townshend, which later became a trademark of his style. In 1969, Giltrap was featured in Transatlantic's guitar showcase album The Contemporary Guitar Sampler, Volume 1.[6] He was also featured on the second volume released in 1970,[7] and both increased his profile.

Shortly after the release of his first album, Giltrap joined The Buskers' Tour of the UK, headlined by Don Partridge. Giltrap subsequently formed a band with Partridge called Accolade. Together they released a self-titled album.[8] While Partridge, had found fame with the hit single 'Rosie in 1968. Partridge later wrote the sleeve notes for Portrait. Giltrap played lead guitar in the band and penned several compositions. Whilst his involvement in the band certainly helped to raise his profile he felt impatient to move on to recording further new albums under his own name.[9]

In 1970 Giltrap signed to MCA Records and released his next album Testament of Time which was again a mixture of songs and instrumental pieces. The latter included a skillfully played piece entitled Catwalk Blues which was to resurface, reworked, (and, in Giltrap's opinion, improved).[10] on two future albums. It was to be one of the pieces he chose to play on his first television appearance on Disco 2 the forerunner to BBC's The Old Grey Whistle Test.

At this stage he was managed by Miles Copeland who, amongst others, also managed Wishbone Ash. Strings on the album were arranged by Del Newman who also played keyboards. Newman had already worked with many well-known artists of that era including Cat Stevens. As he became better known and more greatly respected, Newman later went on to work with many famous artists including Elton John and George Harrison.[11] Thus began a lasting friendship and indeed it was Giltrap who wrote the foreword for Newman's 2010 autobiography A Touch From God (It's Only Rock and Roll).[12] With Newman's influence, the album had a much fuller sound than Giltrap's previous two albums and he regarded it as a significant step forward.[4]

His association with Copeland ended when he moved to Philips Records releasing the 1973 album entitled Giltrap. This album was interesting in that it featured a much larger band. On some of the songs he experimented with early instruments (played by Douglas Wooton and Rod and Joseph Sleeping) and some of his lyrics reflected clearly reflected an interest in historical events. The drummer on this album was "Nicko" McBrain who a decade later would join Iron Maiden. The album included Passing of a Queen which was to be revisited acoustically on Shining Morn, a later album.

The front cover photographs reflect Giltrap as a proud father blowing bubbles together with his son, Jamie, who had been born two years previously. The opening track When I See My Son further reflected that pride. Sadly never released on CD, this was the last album on which he sang lead vocals. The photo on the rear cover of the album showed Giltrap wearing a tank top in a Cat Stevens-like pose.[13] As he became less convinced by his lyric writing capabilities he began seeking a different path.

While popular on the folk and university circuit, Giltrap reached a turning point and received greater recognition during the 1970s. During this time Giltrap started to concentrate on more purely instrumental pieces, and in 1976 released the album Visionary, based on the art and poetry of William Blake. Work on the new album obviously required significant additional time in the recording studio. Once, whilst recording, he missed the birth of his daughter Sadie, who arrived to his great delight on 5 March 1975.[14]

Visionary was produced by Jon Miller who along with guitarist Roger Hand and keyboard player Rod Edwards[15] were known as Triumvirate Productions.[16][17] Hand and Edwards, having listened to demos of some of the material for Visionary decided that it was time for Giltrap to be dragged, initially reluctantly into the realm of rock music.[18] With this new sound however, Giltrap found a different audience and gained greater commercial success.[19] To this day he remains grateful to these two for their influence in helping with the new direction his music took at that time.[18] The success of this album prompted Giltrap to move on from the singer-songwriter approach and to form the Gordon Giltrap Band,[20] which toured extensively in the UK at that time.

Once the demos for Visionary were finished Giltrap found himself with a three album record contract with Electric Records.[18]  Now more in the public eye, he was delighted when offered a UK tour supporting the English progressive rock band 'Renaissance'. This tour helped to raise his public profile significantly. Perhaps as a result of this he was invited to appear on BBC's 'The Old Grey Whistle Test' hosted by Bob Harris. Supported by his full band they performed Robes and Crowns/Awakening'and Lucifer's Cage. Footage of the latter performance still survives and can be seen on the program 'Guitar Heroes at the BBC'.[21]

A European tour followed at the end of 1976 as a support act to the well-known rock band, 'Wishbone Ash'. They played several dates in Germany and were also booked to tour Switzerland. Unfortunately, upon arriving in Zurich Giltrap was hit by a car and broke his collarbone.[22] As he was then unable to play guitar the rest of his tour was sadly cancelled.

His follow-up album Perilous Journey consolidated his success, being named one of the best albums of 1977 by The Sunday Times. It peaked in the UK Albums Chart at No. 29.[23] A single taken from the album, "Heartsong", received extensive airplay and reached No. 21 in the UK Singles Chart.[23] The track was later used as the theme tune of the BBC TV series Holiday. Another of Giltrap's tracks, "The Carnival", was specially commissioned by ITV for the theme tune to ITV's holiday programme Wish You Were Here...?.

Heartsong has subsequently become the tune for which Giltrap is best known and features in his live sets to this day. Heartsong was eventually nominated for an Ivor Novello Award for the best instrumental/ orchestral piece for that year. The recipient was Elton John for Song for Guy. Giltrap told the story of the track's creation to Teamrock:[24]

“It began with a song I did in the late '60s called 'Starting All Over.'When I lived in London I began to mess around with it and stumbled on the riff for what would become 'Heartsong.' I kept working on it, and eventually recorded the guitar part for it. Then we added the rhythm section from Simon Phillips (drums) and John G. Perry (bass)."

"At the time I never thought of this as anything other than a jolly little tune, but my producers Rod Edwards and Roger Hand realized the commercial potential in what we had. The melody really came out when the mini moog part was added, and then Eddie Spence (keyboards) came up with the fast moving synth figure. Edwards and Hand recorded Eddie at half speed, then played it back at normal speed to get the desired effect. That was something they learnt from working with George Martin."

Whilst Visionary had evolved from acoustic compositions adapted for a bigger band, Perilous Journey was composed with a bigger band sound in mind and thus it had greater cohesiveness than the previous album. It appeared occasionally to be more keyboard dominated but Giltrap was unperturbed by this as the pieces were his own compositions and he was really pleased with the arrangements which he had worked on with Rod Edwards and Roger Hand.[25]

In those days albums had to flow from artists at consistent rates and few acts dared to allow time for the public to forget them. Such was the case with Giltrap who released his next album, Fear of the Dark, was released in 1978. Iron Maiden, whose future drummer Nicko McBrain played on the 1973 album by Giltrap, used the same title for a later album, and the font in their logo is quite similar to the "Gordon Giltrap" logo on the Fear of the Dark album.[26]

At this stage, after the success of his previous two albums, Giltrap was riding on a high. Creativity was in full flow so material for his next release was relatively swiftly assembled. The resultant album was arguably one of his finest. The title track, in shortened form, was released as a single but disappointingly failed to achieve the success of Heartsong.[27] It reached number 48 in the singles charts and the band appeared on Top of the Pops.

One track on the album entitled Fast Approaching was a reworked track, vastly different from the original which had appeared on Giltrap's first album. It was extended to five minutes and featured Giltrap on both acoustic and Electric guitars. He was now becoming far more familiar with the latter instrument and at this stage really enjoyed playing his Gibson Les Paul.[28] Giltrap's electric guitar playing is a feature on this album but he was always first and foremost an acoustic guitarist and before too long the electric guitar featured less and less in his work.

The drummer on this album was the highly talented Simon Phillips who had also played on the previous two Giltrap albums and who has since progressed to become one of the most highly commended and influential British drummers.[29] One of his first jobs as a professional drummer came when he joined Giltrap to record Visionary in 1975/6 and he still speaks fondly of that time.[29] He has since played session work with many well known acts including 'The Who'. Indeed, Pete Townshend initially employed Phillips because he loved his work on Giltrap's albums.[30] Phillips later became the drummer for the American rock band 'Toto' which he joined in 1992.

By this stage in Giltrap's career he was beginning to be concerned about becoming too predictable. He decided to move away from playing with a band and move back towards solo work. Giltrap's next album 'The Peacock Party' which was released in 1979, was inspired by a book of the same name. This was in part illustrated by Alan Aldridge who also painted the colourful cover of the Giltrap album. A previous book entitled 'The Butterfly Ball and the Grasshopper's Feast' had inspired an album by Roger Glover of Deep Purple which featured a host of stars. The Triumvirate team had also been working on an album inspired by the book featuring the voices of Judi Dench and Michael Hordern and it also featured celebrated musicians including Gerry Conway and Bruce Lynch both of whom had previously worked extensively with Cat Stevens. Aldridge appeared to prefer Triumvirates's version and it was he who brought his next book 'The Peacock Party'  to the Triumvirate team to see if they were interested in another project. Triumvirate felt this was a good project for Giltrap to pursue.[31]

Giltrap's pieces on this album are less complicated but still feature a full band sound. The whole feel of the album is more upbeat than his previous three. The tracks are shorter in length and, ironically, feature Giltrap playing more electric guitar than previous albums.

As previously mentioned, Giltrap had decided at this stage to move away from more commercial music[32] and concentrate solely upon self-penned intricate guitar pieces. However, whilst working on 'The Peacock Party' he decided to retain the big band sound and incorporated many excellent musicians within his pieces with whom he felt very comfortable working. For example, the album featured the first of Giltrap's several collaborations with violinist Ric Sanders of Fairport Convention and John Etheridge of 'Soft Machine' also features.

This album showcases a wide range of Giltrap's talents from his strident electric guitar work on the opening track, 'Headwind' to the intricacy of second acoustic track 'Magpie Rag'. This track incorporates a complex, oft-repeated riff around which the whole piece is based. As the album progresses each track features different ranges of instruments and highlights different skills.

The final track, 'Dodo's Dream' has become a much admired, iconic feature of his live performances in which he uses a looper and overdubbing to skillfully build up the piece.

When he finished recording he embarked on a small tour in his favoured trio format which featured Ric Sanders on violin and long-term ally Eddie Spence on keyboards. This diversion concluded at a tricky time in his life when his first marriage broke up and his mother, with whom he was very close, passed away having contracted cancer aged just 58.[33]

The tour to promote the album was four-piece comprising Giltrap, Clive Bunker – drums, Rod Edwards – keyboards and 'Bimbo' Acock on saxophone, flute and additional keyboards. The tour was a success and boosted Giltrap at a time when he was feeling really low. However, all good things come to an end and a new home required a fresh start.

Giltrap's next album 'Airwaves' released in 1981 evolved from the line up of the band with whom Giltrap was performing. This was a different album to any previously produced as Giltrap did not compose every piece. Initially planned as music for TV, radio, film or other non-commercial use[34] the recordings gradually morphed into an album which was eventually released. It didn't sell as well as previous Giltrap recordings and Giltrap himself felt somewhat detached from it[34] as he was going through a very difficult time in his life. His trademark versatility does shine through on several tracks but, in all, he was rather disappointed by the outcome and there were to be no more Giltrap albums released for five years.

Performing gigs, however, did not stop as income still needed to be earned and Giltrap was pleased that he had learnt his craft as a solo performer thus not requiring  the backing of a large band. During this time he honed his skills of engaging with an audience, something which has served him well to this very day.[35]

Giltrap's life during this time went through a turbulent stage with the sad loss of his father at the early age of 66, the fact he had two children to bring up and meeting his future wife, Hilary. He gradually began to get his life back to some sort of order. Of course he was gigging through this entire time and had joined up with Ric Sanders, currently best known as the violinist of Fairport Convention. Ric had already appeared as a guest on Giltrap's' album 'Peacock Party'.

The title track, the longest on the album, was based upon a poem written by Elizabeth Barker, Giltrap's mother in law. Giltrap found the poem emotionally moving, and the music he created reflected the metre of the poem exactly. On this track the sound effects generated by the electric guitar are much in evidence.

'Sallie's Song' was inspired by a commission Giltrap had for a television series entitled 'Hold The Back Page’ starring David Warner and directed  by Adrian Shergold. Shergold subsequently commissioned Giltrap to write music for several others of his productions. These compositions were never  released on album because Giltrap felt they were too intrinsically linked to the plot of the films to work as stand-alone pieces.[36]

Later in 1987 a rather different album was released. Entitled 'A Midnight Clear' it was an instrumental reworking of well-known and lesser-known Christmas carols. Giltrap enlisted the support of Ric Sanders and his old friend Bimbo Acock. The resultant album, whilst not hugely commercial, became quite popular.

The following year Giltrap began gigging with Ric and, because they were such a successful pairing, they began working on an album together. Entitled One to One, it was released in 1989. Both artists felt differently about it but both accept there was an instrumental imbalance which could be substantially improved with a remix.[37] The remix never happened and the album remains rather violin top heavy.

In 1992 Giltrap performed at the Warwick Folk Festival when he performed, arguably, his finest live session. Unbeknownst to Giltrap this was recorded and later released as an album. It was this album which caught the attention of Richie Blackmore who has become a self-professed admirer of Giltrap's work.[38]

1993 brought with it the fulfillment of a project which Giltrap had contemplated for some time. He had a vision of re-recording 'Heartsong' with many of his well-known friends. These friends were Brian May, Steve Howe, Rick Wakeman, Midge Ure and Neil Murray. When completed, despite the quality of the recording, there was surprisingly little interest from record companies and it was two years before the track surfaced on an album.[39]

Later that year Giltrap joined Midge Ure on his 'Out Alone' solo tour. Giltrap co-wrote a song with him entitled 'Feel So Good' which eventually saw light of day on an album entitled 'Little Orphans' in 2001. He also undertook a tour with a guitarist he greatly admired, Albert Lee, along with his band 'Hogan's Heroes'.

1994 saw him on tour with ELO Part II. ELO were performing without their front man, Jeff Lynne. Giltrap was disappointed that his name, did not appear on any advertising poster nor was he actually remunerated for his performances. These were, however, very well received and resulted in good CD sales.[40]

Giltrap had used a very beautiful Fylde guitar on 'Heartsong' which had been greatly admired by Cliff Richard. This guitar is the one he played on BBC's 'Top of the Pops' which, at time of writing, can still be viewed on YouTube. Whilst interviewing many celebrities for 'Guitarist' magazine, Giltrap met Cliff Richard for the first time since the 1970s when he had originally loaned Cliff the Fylde. It had an intricately designed inlay of the 'Tree of Life' on the fretboard and Cliff loved it. Giltrap decided to present it to him as a gift. He still has this guitar as a treasured part of his collection.[41]

In 1995 Giltrap released an album entitled 'Music for the Small Screen'[1]. In past years he had been employed to compose several theme tunes for various television programmes following the success of 'Heartsong' on BBC's  'Holiday' programme. Not many of these pieces had appeared on his albums. The album featured the all-star reworking of 'Heartsong' and also a track entitled 'Last of England', later to be the title of a highly regarded album, which had been used in the Adrian Shergold drama 'Will You Love Me Tomorrow'. This play was loosely based on the child killer Mary Bell and featured Giltrap in a cameo role as a newspaper seller strumming a guitar.

This album also featured a track entitled 'The Lord's Seat' which had been written for a television documentary. It remains a staple of Giltrap's gigs to this day. The track was written in a Renaissance style and required a special baby guitar made by the well-respected luthier, Rob Armstrong. This guitar had the lute-like qualities which Giltrap required for the piece.

Another track on the album entitled 'Brutus' became well known when it was used as the theme tune of the World Bowls Championship. Giltrap also found himself providing the theme tunes for the holiday programs of both the BBC and ITV simultaneously when ITV decided to use his piece entitled 'The Carnival' as the theme tune for their rival holiday program.[42]

The album was not a big seller despite it its content of largely unreleased material and remains one of the most underrated items in Giltrap's discography.

In 1995 Giltrap was invited by Cliff Richard to take part in his West End musical Heathcliff, which was based upon the Wuthering Heights novel by Charlotte Brontë. John Farrar, an ex-member of The Shadows, was invited to compose the music, and Tim Rice was commissioned to write the lyrics. Giltrap's character in the show was the Troubadour. Somewhat unimpressed with his outfit, which lacked a much-desired cape, he was, however, just delighted to be involved.[43] He had three pieces to perform each evening. He opened the show with his reworked version of 'A Misunderstood Man', one of the songs in the show. The other pieces he performed in the second half were 'Isabella's Wedding' and 'The Picnic'.

After some public previews at Earls Court, 'Heathcliff' premiered at the National Indoor Theatre in Birmingham in October 1996. The show then headed to Edinburgh Playhouse for a four-week run before returning to Birmingham for a few pre-Christmas shows. It then travelled to the Palace Theatre in Manchester and finally Hammersmith Odeon before its final performance there in May 1997. 'Heathcliff' entertained nearly half a million people during its run and broke box office records at almost every theatre which hosted the production. Whilst not popular with critics, many people loved it and a video of the show recorded at Hammersmith Odeon remained top of the video charts for eight weeks.

Following the euphoric highs of this West End show Giltrap began contemplating his next album. It was to be named 'Troubadour' after his character in the show. He approached K-Tel Music to produce the album. This outfit had been previously well known for their low-budget music compilation albums but they seemed keen to expand their repertoire by promoting an album produced by a well-respected, serious musician.[44]

'Troubadour' gave Giltrap the chance to approach his old friend Del Newman to work on the string arrangements for the album. Newman was a very well-respected name in the music industry having worked with many top artists including George Harrison, Cat Stevens, Elton John, Paul Simon, Carly Simon and Donovan, to name but a few. (wiki) Newman had declined the chance to work on Giltrap's 'Visionary' album and had, apparently, always regretted that decision. He jumped at the chance to work with his close friend on 'Troubadour'. [45] He wanted to produce the album himself to ensure a perfect balance between his string arrangements and Giltrap's guitar.

When he heard that the album was going to include a version of 'A Misunderstood Man', Cliff Richard approached Giltrap and volunteered to sing backing vocals on the track. 'Troubadour' included three pieces from the 'Heathcliff' musical and the first edition of the album included sleeve notes written by both Cliff Richard and Tim Rice. The album cover pleased Giltrap as his Troubadour character was finally endowed with the cape he so craved![46]

An important album for Giltrap, many of its tracks are frequently included in his live performances to this day. It opens with the aforementioned version of 'A Misunderstood Man' which is complemented hugely by Richards' backing vocals and Newman's lavish strings arrangement. It blends into the second track 'Be With Me Always' which had also featured in the musical.

The following piece, 'Rain in the Doorway' utilised a rather special and beloved baby guitar purchased at a boot sale for the grand price of £5. It has since been renovated and usually accompanies Giltrap on his gigs when used primarily for a piece entitled 'Appalachian Dreaming'. The guitar can be seen in the YouTube link to that song.

Another staple track of his future gigs follows. Entitled 'On Camber Sands', an effects box utilises a one-second delay which gives a much broader canvas to the piece. It was titled nostalgically as Camber Sands was where the Giltraps used to holiday in his youth and the location still holds fond memories.

'On Camber Sands' was the favourite track of one of the Giltraps' youngest friends, a girl named Tracy Sollis. Tracy was a 15-year-old schoolgirl from Evesham, and both of the Giltraps became extremely fond of her. But her health began to suffer and she was eventually diagnosed with myeloid leukaemia. After a brave fight and an unsuccessful bone marrow transplant, she died, to the devastation of her friends. Knowing her life was to be short she bravely became determined to help others in a similar situation. With the Giltraps' help her wishes eventually came to fruition in the foundation of the Tracy Sollis Leukaemia Trust, of which Giltrap proudly remains a patron to this day.

'Rainbow Kites' is another lively track which again utilises the special effects box in the form of a one-second delay. This gives the impression of two guitars being played together in tight timings. Other tracks follow which are frequently performed live including 'A Dublin Day', 'Daisy Chain' (here with Raymond Burley) and 'Nursery Chimes' The latter piece is of particular interest as it features a technique called 'harping' which utilises the ringing sounds of harmonics.

A rearrangement of a traditional Irish tune completes the album entitled 'The Kerry Dancers'. This was a particular favourite of. Del Newman utilising, as it did three different guitars, a baritone, a standard and a baby![47]

The album gained very favourable reviews and sold well.

Giltrap's life post 'Troubadour' took a rather different turn. Alongside his continued live performances he became, in a limited way,  involved in journalism conducting celebrity interviews for Guitarist magazine. This led to him meeting Fay Goodman who was considering producIng a series of DVD interviews with notable musicians. Once employed, Giltrap found himself interviewing stars such as Albert Lee and Tommy Iommi. One such interview was with one of his heroes, John Entwhistle of 'The Who'. Their encounter was later released as a DVD entitled 'Thunderfingers'.

In 2000, to his great pride, Giltrap was inducted into the Grand Order of Water Rats, a celebrity charitable organisation well-known for its benevolence.

For some time, Giltrap had been considering creating a tribute album to Bert Jansch whom he greatly admired. The result was a short album comprising just six pieces. One of these tracks required vocals which Giltrap himself performed. The track, entitled 'Running From Home', was the first time he had sung on an album for 17 years! [48]

During this album Giltrap attempted to demonstrate Jansch's great versatility of skills in the selection of pieces he chose for the album, performing each in Janch's unique style. This is amply demonstrated by Ewan McColl's 'The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face', a track which Jansch had played in his unique style and which Giltrap followed faithfully in his interpretation of the song. A notable track on the album was another piece previously interpreted by Jansch: Davey Graham's 'Anji'. This well-known piece (spelt 'Angie' on the album) had also influenced Giltrap's early work.[49]

The album concluded with a version of 'Roots', Giltrap's own composition which had first appeared on his 'Fear of the Dark' album. He included this to show the influence Jansch had had on his own guitar style.

'Janschology' was released on the 'Voiceprint' label in 2001. Giltrap was by now working on new material for his next album, 'Under This Blue Sky' which was to be released the following year.

'Under this Blue Sky' was significant it in as much as it introduced Giltrap's audience to newly-penned compositions, the first since 'Troubadour'. Giltrap recruited additional musicians to play on the album, the most significant of whom was Bert Jansch himself. Jansch plays on the track 'Chambertin'. This track had appeared on his previous album but was now considerably lengthened. The album also featured the talents of flautist Hillary Ashe-Roy, a previous student of the well-known James Galway.

Interestingly, Giltrap decided to include his version of George Harrison's 'Here Comes the Sun'. He used a baby Armstrong guitar for this piece and, although he never met George Harrison, he was indirectly the person who introduced him to that guitar. This happened via his friend, Joe Brown, who was so impressed with the instrument when Giltrap demonstrated it to him, that he sent one to Harrison as a Christmas present. Harrison loved it too and duly purchased two more as gifts for his close friends.[50]

Another track revisited on this album was the 'Heathcliff' piece entitled, 'The Picnic'. This piece became enlivened by Ashe-Roy's skills on the flute and Giltrap was delighted with the result. The flautist’s skills were also in evidence on another track entitled 'Crossing the Border' on which the duo were joined by a second guitarist, Kevin Dempsey, with whom Giltrap had toured as a duo several years earlier.

2003 saw the release of an album comprised mostly of cover versions. It was titled 'Remember This''. Although there were some original Giltrap recordings in the track list, the majority were renditions of compositions which had influenced the young Giltrap.  These included 'Substitute' by 'The Who' as Giltrap had long been an admirer of Pete Townshend's skills on the guitar. Also there’s a bright version of Cliff Ruchard's 'Summer Holiday' along with tributes to other luminaries including Django Reinhardt, John Renbourn and JS Bach.

Giltrap performed most pieces himself but on a couple of tracks he enlisted the help of guitarist Neville Marten and, once again, the flautist Hilary Ashe-Roy Two of Giltrap’s original tracks featured accompaniment by Rick Wakeman. as these had previously been recorded for a radio programme.

In 2001 Giltrap met the classical guitarist, Raymond Burley. Burley listened to Giltrap‘s work and, liking what he heard, realised that they might be able to make music together. This resulted in a collaborative album called Double Vision which was released in 1982. The album was recorded live at Holy Trinity church in Weston, Hampshire. This was the beginning of a collaboration between the two friends which would last several years.(191)

An interesting solo album followed entitled Live At Ambergate. This album explored the unusual sound effects of binaural recording which was recorded using in-ear microphones. This left the listener listening very unusually to exactly what the person recording the pieces was hearing relevant to their position in the room at the time. [51]

The next studio album Drifter was released in 2004. This featured a very special violin played by John Bradbury. This violin Giltrap had picked up at a boot fair for £20. He asked somebody to look at it to see if it was any good. Astonishingly, it turned out to be a violin made by Giuseppe Pedrazzini who was a celebrated early 20th century violin maker. It was worth £30,000! This instrument was used on three tracks on the album. Giltrap eventually parted with the violin for £23,000. Not a bad investment, but apparently today it is worth closer to £60,000.[52]

The violin features on the opening track of the album, Mrs Singer's Waltz. This is followed by another track, a regular piece in Giltrap's current live performances, entitled Maddie Goes West. It features a well-known banjo player called Madelyn Martyn who was just about to take a trip to America, hence the title.

The title track Drifter was, interestingly, also recorded on another guitar purchased cheaply at a boot fair. Giltrap's wife, Hilary' helped out with the vocals on this track.

Giltrap had previously received a call from somebody who worked for music publishing company wondering if he could write a piece in the style of Django Reinhardt. Giltrap duly created a piece entitled  Deco Echo' This piece was later to be used on television program about the Poirot series which starred David Suchet.

The album had a very effective sleeve with the lone silhouetted figure of Giltrap indeed looking very much like a drifter. The photo had been taken by his wife Hilary and they were both delighted with it particularly when they realised that it suited the title of the album perfectly.[53]

No further original Giltrap albums were to be forthcoming for several years but in 2006 a concert at the Symphony Hall Birmingham was filmed. This was released as a DVD/CD and Giltrap was very pleased with its quality and the professional manner in which it was produced.[54]

In 2007 Giltrap released an album entitled Secret Valentine. This album re-visited some of his favourite romantic pieces. It was basically created to feature the sound of a Rob Armstrong guitar which had been designed as part of a research project and was made entirely out of a plastic polymer. Giltrap released this and amply demonstrated the versatility of that instrument.[55]

A live album entitled As it Happens was released later in 2007 with which Giltrap himself was very pleased. [56]

The following year saw the launch of a venture entitled Three Parts Guitar. Double Vision had not been as successful as hoped due to a perceived clash in styles between Burley and Giltrap. The pair, however, convinced their collaboration had a future, enlisted the talented jazz-based guitarist John Etheridge to join them in a tour. This proved extremely successful. In concert, they each played a solo session before the finale where they joined together to play some of Gordon's pieces. The show in the Symphony Hall in Birmingham in September 2008 was performed to capacity crowd with special guest Rick Wakeman.[57]

John Etheridge could not totally commit to the tour as he was also working with classical guitar star John Williams. Clive Carrol was approached to see if he would step in if required. Having seen Carrol play guitar Festival, it was John Renbourrn who recommended him. Giltrap too was also hugely impressed with his talent. Etheridge, however, then committed to the project and Carrol was asked to join the group which then became Four Parts Guitar, thus forming a collaboraton which worked well for several more years.[58]

For some time Giltrap and Rick Wakeman had been planning to make an album together. They decided that the time had now arrived. Giltrap's love of Renaissance art contrasting with Wakeman‘s love of sculpture resulted in the album's title From Brush And Stone. The album, divided in two by composer, featured tracks with each adding accompaniment to each other's compositions. Giltrap’s pieces were mainly a reworking of his Brotherhood Suite and these were complemented by versions of the aforementioned Maddie Goes West and a piece entitled By Angle Tarn.

The duo's collaboration continued when Wakeman undertook a solo tour entitled Grumpy Old Picture Show. This included a previously recorded video conversation with Giltrap which can be seen in the previous link. It was cleverly worked so that Wakeman appeared to be conversing live with Giltrap during his performance on stage.  Wakeman also appeared on Giltrap’s next album Shining Morn which was released in 2010. The title piece appears twice on the album firstly as a solo and again as the concluding track which incorporates Wakeman on keyboards. The flautist Hilary Ash-Roy appears once again on Joy Ride and Prayer for Philippa.

Two other pieces are particularly worthy of note. The first of these is Five Dollar Guitar. This is a very different piece from most Giltrap compositions and is a rather bluesy composition. It was inspired by listening to an Eric Clapton documentary. [59] Another track entitled Forever Gold was written to celebrate Cliff Richard's 50 years in show business. He tried to create a piece which reflected the simplicity and joy of tracks like Summer Holiday or The Young Ones. [60]

Several older compositions are revisited on the album. One, Ive's Horizon, first appeared on Giltrap's very first album which was released in 1968. Another interesting track on this album is the instrumental version of The Passing Of A Queen which originally appeared on the 1973 Giltrap album. Shining Morn also features a revisitation of Dodo's Dream which has since become a staple of Giltrap’s concerts. This version with overdubbing tries to replicate the feeling given during live performances of the piece.

He is described as innovative in his biography at AllMusic.[61]

Giltrap was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2019 New Year Honours, "for services to music and to charity".[62]


Giltrap cites Hank Marvin, the Beatles, Pete Townshend, Donovan, Bert Jansch, John Renbourn, Julian Bream, John Williams, Edward Elgar and Ralph Vaughan Williams as his main musical influences.[1]


Studio albums:

  • 1968: Gordon Giltrap (Transatlantic Records) - later reissued on cassette as The Early Days (Allegro ALC) with a different track sequence
  • 1969: Portrait (Transatlantic)
  • 1971: A Testament of Time (MCA Records)
  • 1973: Giltrap (Philips Records)
  • 1976: Visionary (The Electric Record Company, catalogue no. TRIX 2)
  • 1977: Perilous Journey (The Electric Record Company, catalogue no. TRIX 4)
  • 1978: Fear of the Dark (The Electric Record Company)
  • 1979: The Peacock Party (PVK)
  • 1982: Airwaves (PVK)
  • 1984: In At The Deep End (KPM)
  • 1987: Elegy (Filmtrax) - reissued in 2000 by La Cooka Ratcha
  • 1987: A Midnight Clear (Modern Music) - a collection of Christmas carols
  • 1995: Music for the Small Screen (Munchkin)[63]
  • 1998: Troubadour (K-tel)
  • 1998: Down the River (K-tel)
  • 2002: Under This Blue Sky (La Cooka Ratcha)
  • 2003: Remember This (La Cooka Ratcha) - primarily cover songs
  • 2004: Drifter (La Cooka Ratcha)[64]
  • 2007: Secret Valentine (La Cooka Ratcha / Voiceprint)
  • 2010: Shining Morn (Floating World)


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Interview: Gordon Giltrap". M Magazine. 10 January 2019. Retrieved 3 June 2019.
  2. ^ "Gordon Giltrap". Giltrap.co.uk. Retrieved 5 July 2020.
  3. ^ Perilous Journey, First Edition 2018, Steve Pilkington. p. 31, Wymer Publishing, ISBN 978-1908724786
  4. ^ a b Perilous Journey, First Edition 2018, Steve Pilkington. p. 39
  5. ^ "Gordon Giltrap". Giltrap.co.uk.
  6. ^ The Contemporary Guitar Sampler Vol 1, Transatlantic Records – TRA SAM 14, 1969
  7. ^ The Contemporary Guitar Sampler Volume 2, Transatlantic Records – TRA SAM 15, 1970
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  12. ^ A Touch From God – It's Only Rock and Roll, ISBN 9781906358792
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  24. ^ "Songfacts". Songfacts.com.
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  29. ^ a b Perilous Journey. 2018, First edition, Steve Pilkington, p.90
  30. ^ Who I AmPete Townshend. 2012 edition p. 318, HarperCollins, ISBN 978-0007466030
  31. ^ Perilous Journey. 2018, First edition, Steve Pilkington, p.107
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  58. ^ Perilous Journey. 2018, First edition, Steve Pilkington, p.197
  59. ^ Perilous Journey. 2018, First edition, Steve Pilkington, p.199
  60. ^ Perilous Journey. 2018, First edition, Steve Pilkington, p.199
  61. ^ Hill, Gary. "Gordon Giltrap". AllMusic. Retrieved 4 July 2015.
  62. ^ "No. 62507". The London Gazette (1st supplement). 29 December 2018. p. N18.
  63. ^ "Music For The Small Screen + The Solo Album". Giltrap.co.uk. Music For The Small Screen: [...] 1995 Munchkin Records Label CD - MRCD1
  64. ^ "Drifter". Giltrap.co.uk.

External links[edit]