All those guitar players that came out of the coffee shops and clubs of Britain in the 50s and 60s in Britain pretty much have one thing in common Bert Weeden’s “Play In A Day” book.
Eric Clapton, John Lennon, George Harrison, Paul McCartney, Mark Knopfler, Brian May, Pete Townshend are amongst those that bought over 2 million copies since it was first published in 1957. It got ‘em all started on the road to guitar god stardom. As the man himself tells in a BBC documentary “Imagine – The Story of the Guitar Part 1 – In the Beginning” – about five minutes in you just have to get past the interminably smug get Yentob.
That’s not to say the book is all Bert did, after getting his first guitar down Petticoat Lane market for 15 bob (15 shillings old money which translates now as 75 pence but in reality was far more than that). He was one of the first and only rock and roll guitarists in the country so was the in-demand session musician, playing with the early stars of the rock and roll boom on this side of the Atlantic including the likes of Cliff Richard, Adam Faith, Billy Fury, Tommy Steele and Marty Wilde. After performing with various big bands and orchestras, including those of Ted Heath and Mantovani, before he joined the BBC Show Band in the 1950s, when he began to be featured as a soloist.
Then in 1959 with “Guitar Boogie Shuffle” he was the first guitarist to have a British top 10 hit with a guitar instrumental.
I never did by “Play In A Day”, maybe I should have, who knows where it could have lead…