Steve Rothery

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Steve Rothery
Steve Rothery onstage with Marillion at their 2009 weekend festival in Montreal, Canada.
Background information
Born (1959-11-25) 25 November 1959 (age 57)
Genres Rock, progressive rock, neo-progressive rock
Occupation(s) Musician, songwriter
Instruments Guitar
Associated acts Marillion, The Wishing Tree, Enchant, Edison's Children

Steve Rothery (born 25 November 1959) is an English musician. He is the original guitarist and the longest continuous member of the British rock band Marillion. Outside Marillion, Rothery has recorded two albums as part of the duo The Wishing Tree and an instrumental solo album, The Ghosts of Pripyat, released in September 2014. He also founded the British Guitar Academy in 2011.


Rothery was born in Brampton, South Yorkshire, England, and from the age of six he lived in Whitby, North Yorkshire. He began to play the guitar at the age of 15. In an interview for Johnnie Walker's Sounds of the Seventies on BBC Radio 2 in 2013, Rothery revealed that his musical tastes always differed from his friends, who were getting into punk rock while he preferred progressive rock, which he had been introduced to through the Alan Freeman show on BBC Radio 1.


In 1979, he saw an ad in the music press for a band called Silmarillion that needed a guitarist. He auditioned successfully for the band (19 August 1979). From this point he concentrated more on melody, composition and mood in his playing, and less on his technique. Later, Silmarillion shortened its name to Marillion.

Outside Marillion[edit]

The Wishing Tree[edit]

As well as work with Marillion, he started a solo project under the name The Wishing Tree (with Hannah Stobart providing vocals), and released two albums titled Carnival of Souls (1996) and Ostara (2009).

Solo album The Ghosts of Pripyat (2014)[edit]

Rothery had been approached by EMI to make a solo album during the recording of Marillion's Misplaced Childhood (1985) and by Miles Copeland when Marillion were recording Brave in his castle in France in 1994;[1] he decided to join with Stobart and form The Wishing Tree instead.

On 25 November 2013, Rothery announced that he was working on a solo album to be titled The Ghosts of Pripyat and scheduled for a September 2014 release. The album's production was financed via the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter[1] and quickly reached almost double its target by 17 December.[2] The idea for the album was born when Rothery was rehearsing for a show at the annual international guitar festival in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, in October 2013, with a band including guitarist Dave Foster (of Mr. So & So), drummer Leon Parr (formerly of Mosque), and bassist Yatim Halimi (of Panic Room). An audio recording of the show was made available as a download from Rothery's website[3] as a first impression of the forthcoming album's direction, followed by a CD in February 2014. Steve Hackett (ex-Genesis) appears on two tracks and Steven Wilson on one. The album's cover was designed by Lasse Hoile.[4] The finished album was finally released on 22 September 2014.


According to Guitar Player, Rothery "specializes in crafting lush sonic atmospheres with layered guitars and effects processing".[5] In 2001, Rothery was voted Yorkshire and Humberside's best guitarist in a poll in Total Guitar magazine.[6]

He has been hailed by as one of the great progressive rock guitarists, describing him as "never one to go for major flash, he always plays for the song and not his ego, but when he shines, he shines brightly", and comparing him favourably with John Petrucci, David Gilmour and Alex Lifeson.[7] described him as "an incredibly talented player", claiming Rothery's tone "is sure to appeal to fans of diverse guitar sounds"; the site proclaims him an expert at "guitars drenched in shimmering chorus, sparkling delays and cavernous reverbs", and praises him for "spacey sounds and blues sections" as well as "acoustic rhythms that anchor the melodies". He has been identified as having "three distinct trademark sounds": a "sparkling clean arpeggio tone draped in digital delays", "soaring melodic lead tones" and a "classic blues tone".[7]

Rothery has stated that Joni Mitchell was an influence on his style, especially her use of open tunings, which he believed created a very harmonically rich sound. He has cited Mitchell's "A Case of You" as one of the songs that had the biggest influence on him.[8]

The British Guitar Academy[edit]

In 2011, Rothery launched the British Guitar Academy "to bring together some of Britain's top guitarists to pass on their hard won knowledge and experience to a wider audience through a series of workshops and masterclasses. The aim is to concentrate not just on technique but also creativity and individuality." As well as Rothery, the Academy has featured guitarists such as Aziz Ibrahim (Simply Red, The Stone Roses, Ian Brown, Asia and a solo artist), Dave Foster (Mr So & So and a solo artist), Michael Casswell (Brian May band, Cozy Powell band, Tony Hadley, Ronan Keating), Matt Prior (Bonnie Tyler and TV & film music composer), Rob Harris (Jamiroquai since 2000, Kylie Minogue, Beverley Knight) and Dan Steinhardt (Tin Spirits, developer of the Gig Rig pedal switching system and acknowledged tone guru).[9]



With Marillion[edit]

Steve Rothery appears on every Marillion release since their 1982 debut single; see Marillion discography

With The Wishing Tree[edit]


  • Live in Plovdiv (December 2013)
  • Live in Rome (August 2014)
  • The Ghosts of Pripyat (September 2014)

Guest appearances[edit]


  1. ^ a b Steve Rothery Launches Kickstarter Campaign For Solo Album, 25 November 2013, accessed 17 December 2013.
  2. ^ Steve Rothery – The Ghosts of Pripyat by Steve Rothery — Kickstarter. Retrieved 17 December 2013.

  3. ^ Steve Rothery band Live in Plovdiv, accessed 17 December 2013.
  4. ^ STEVE ROTHERY NEW SOLO ALBUM — | NEWS | The Official Marillion Website, 25 November 2013. Retrieved 17 December 2013.

  5. ^ Cleveland, Barry (2 February 2010). "Marillion's Steve Rothery Talks Tones and Effects". Guitar Player. Retrieved 16 April 2012. 
  6. ^ Total Guitar. July 2001
  7. ^ a b Kahn, Scott. "Steve Rothery: Marillion's King of Guitar Town". Retrieved 18 June 2013. 
  8. ^ Interview with Steve Rothery. Johnnie Walker's Sounds of the Seventies. BBC Radio 2. 24 March 2013
  9. ^ "British Guitar Academy masterclasses". MusicRadar. 3 February 2011. Retrieved 17 May 2017. 

External links[edit]