Ted Greene

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Ted Greene
Background information
Born (1946-09-26)September 26, 1946
Died July 23, 2005(2005-07-23) (aged 58)
Genres Rock, blues, jazz
Occupation(s) Musician
Associated acts Bluesberry Jam, Fito de la Parra, The Nomads, The Purple Gang

Theodore "Ted" Greene (September 26, 1946 – July 23, 2005) was an American fingerstyle jazz guitarist, music columnist, and music educator active in Encino, California.


Greene began his own guitar studies at the age of 11, and was an accomplished player while still in high school, occasionally collaborating with local R&B and Blues Rock groups. He briefly studied accounting at California State Northridge, but dropped out to devote all of his energies to music.

In the 1960s he was a member of the rock band Natural Selection and a blues rock group called Bluesberry Jam,[1] whose ranks also included future Canned Heat drummer Fito de la Parra.[2] He was a friend and collaborator with Joseph Byrd, on whose Columbia Masterworks album The American Metaphysical Circus he was featured (he also provided the whimsical name of the studio band who performed it, "The Field Hippies"). During the late 1960s and early 1970s he did commercial studio work with Byrd. He was again called on in 1977 to provide guitar tablature for three arrangements of Bix Beiderbecke's piano music for the Ry Cooder album Jazz, which Byrd arranged and produced.

While Greene is often regarded as a jazz musician, he played many musical styles. He was known to guitarists due to his role as a music educator, which included private teaching, seminars at the Guitar Institute of Technology, columns for Guitar Player magazine, and his series of instructional books on guitar harmony, chord melody and single-note soloing. A voracious reader of almost any book on music theory, especially from the common practice period (circa 1600–1900) he distilled very complex concepts regarding the structure of western music, and would write out more accessible versions for students to understand (handed out to students in the form of lesson "sheets"), often applying keyboard concepts to the guitar. For example, many transcriptions of the Chorals of J. S. Bach would be re-written for guitar, along with useful analysis applicable to any musical setting, such as jazz and other styles.

He would also make occasional live appearances at clubs in the San Fernando Valley, usually playing a Fender Telecaster.

Greene typically worked as a vocal accompanist, which he preferred because he found group settings restrictive. While he was a sought-after session player, he derived much of his income from tutoring. He wrote four books on the subject of jazz guitar performance and theory: Chord Chemistry, Modern Chord Progressions: Jazz and Classical Voicings for Guitar, and the two-volume Jazz Guitar: Single Note Soloing.

His playing style included techniques such as harp-like harmonic arpeggios, combined with gentle, tasteful neck vibrato, creating a "shimmer" to his sound. Other notable techniques included playing songs with a "walking bass" line with simultaneous melodies. Greene used counterpoint to improvise in a variety of styles, such as playing a jazz standard such as Autumn Leaves in Baroque style. He used a large variety of chord voicings, often creating the effect of two simultaneous players.

He recorded one album, Solo Guitar, in 1977, and although respected by guitarists, he was not well known to the public. The recording, originally released in 1977 on PMP Records, contains no "over dubbing" (recording on multiple tracks). Guitar virtuoso Steve Vai has praised Greene's musical knowledge and perceptiveness on this recording, stating that Greene "is totally in touch with the potential of harmonic constructions" which allows him to create an "organic and inspired listening delight."

Josh Gordon, in Just Jazz Guitar Magazine, stated that the recording has a "feeling of perfect proportion" and a "full spectrum of emotion and harmonic vision." Steven Rosenberg, in the Los Angeles Daily newspaper, stated "Greene managed to raise the bar for solo guitar."

Greene helped Fender design a 1952 Telecaster vintage reissue (their first such reissue) by making reference to his collection of old Telecasters, Broadcasters and Nocasters. Greene died in his apartment in Encino of a heart attack at the age of 58. Over 700 of his family, friends, former students and other musicians attended his memorial. Greene is survived by his brother Ron and sister Linda. His longtime life partner, Barbara Franklin, organized and archived many of his written notes on music and guitar playing after he died. In 2009 she wrote a biography on Ted, My Life with The Chord Chemist: A Memoir of Ted Greene, Apotheosis of Solo Guitar. She died on August 13, 2011.



  • Chord Chemistry, Alfred Publishing Company
  • Modern Chord Progressions, Alfred Publishing Company
  • Jazz Guitar Single Note Soloing, Volume 1, Alfred Publishing Company
  • Jazz Guitar Single Note Soloing, Volume 2, Alfred Publishing Company
  • My Life with the Chord Chemist: A Memoir of Ted Greene, Apotheosis of Solo Guitar by Barbara Franklin


  1. ^ Pacific Gas & Electric website Brent's Page
  2. ^ Happy Trailers HD "Made in Mexico, from Evolution to Revolution" Press Release

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