Never has there been a musician quite like the late, great Allan Holdsworth. Throughout the history of mankind, has there ever been another person who took a hugely popular, widely-played instrument like the electric guitar, and reinvented it like the great maestro did. He created a brand new sound and technique for the instrument, setting a benchmark that many have tried to copy and attain. Somehow though, you can always tell when it's Holdsworth playing or someone trying to play Holdsworth.
I was introduced to the Allan Holdsworth sound in the late 70's by my best friend at the time. He had "borrowed" a Bill Bruford album from his older brother and one night while we were just hanging out, he started playing it from beginning to end over and over. What jumped out at me wasn't Bill Bruford's drumming, nor Jeff Berlin's bass playing, both of which were spine-tingling awesome. No, it was the most inspiring guitar sound I would ever hear in my lifetime. Coupled with that was the technique. Oh my God, the technique!! Legato, fat, fast, warm, slightly atonal at times, yet beautifully melodic and utterly unique.
The subsequent years following his stint with Bruford, Holdsworth released one brilliant solo album after another with music unlike any music that came before. Free flowing, highly improvisational, jazz, jazz fusion, he became loved world-wide as a major influence to anyone who ever picked up a guitar and tried to solo. His playing and music were seemingly 100% non-derivative, completely original. That can't be said for anyone else in the history of music, not even Mozart, or Beethoven. His playing style can possibly be compared to that of a saxophone player, in the way that it is smooth sounding and legato, with nothing getting in the way of each note. But even the best sax players fall in line in following a certain set of rules per the music style they are playing. Holdsworth had no rules it seemed and he was unapologetic about it. He know what he liked and wasn't going to compromise one inch.
When he passed away suddenly in 2017, it was truly a sad day for lovers of music. Luckily, he left behind an extensive catalog of brilliance that, due to the fact he was so far ahead of his time, will never grow old!!