|Chris Fender Blacks Tribute to Bert Weedon
Bert Weedon was such a gentleman and his contribution to British Rock-n-Roll was immense via his guitar tutor PLAY IN A DAY and his massive hit Guitar Boogie Shuffle which we all learnt from, as everybody was boogie mad in those days. Bert's Tutor was brilliant and it was the only one of its kind that taught you the guitar chords and it was a big must have item along with pitch pipes to tune up with! Everyone had his Tutor book back in the 1950's it was like a Bible to us all. You couldn't get any guitar lessons for love nor money as nobody knew how to play and most of us couldn't read music! We learnt ( or guessed ) from records after we all started playing guitar from scratch to Lonnie Donegan's Rock Island Line. Joe Brown was the only guy we saw who could play half way up the guitar neck back in 1957 and we were all gob smacked and went WOW!!! I saw him do this with his band in the Rialto Cinema Leyton when Skiffle Groups played between the film sets on a Sunday afternoon.
Joe must have had some advice from someone unknown to us as our acoustic Spanish guitars were impossible to play above the 5th fret, this was because we put metal strings on them to get a LOUD big twanging sound and due to the extra pressure these exerted they bent the neck upwards and the guitar looked like Robin Hoods Bow! You couldn't push the strings down as they were 3inches up at the 5th fret !!! This hampered our progress big time, even with Bert's Tutor to hand it couldn't help us. Electric guitars were unheard of in those days and we thought you had to plug them in to a 240 volt mains socket which was a bit scary back then! It was not until I was called up for National Service that I got a guitar lesson when a northern guy showed me how to play bar chords in 1958 when I was stuck in a tent for 15 months in Cyprus. I used to play my guitar 24 hours a day to beat the boredom and the first song I leant to play with bar chords was Connie Francis's "Who's Sorry Now" and I was so proud of myself I wrote a letter home to my parents with all the song chords in it which I have still got !!!!
I still had a Spanish guitar at that time but I had put the proper strings back on and could now play like JOE BROWN at last !!!!!!!
I met Bert on several occasions when I was doing 60's shows with my band Blackcat in the 80's and it was a real honour to perform with him. He was a great guy, very polite and very professional and we got on great, be it playing together on stage or personal wise. I kept in touch with him by phone for many years and he was very approachable at all times. He paid me some great compliments on my guitar playing and my energy which I thought was fantastic coming from the MASTER….. and I have never forgotten it. I had a copy of his Guitar Tutor "PLAY LOUD IN A DAY" which I had kept from the 50's which I used to show people until someone nicked it along with my equipment and my van!
If anybody out there has a spare copy, could you please send it to me because I have forgotten where BIG "E" is !!!
I really enjoyed Bert's company and our phone chats but sadly we moved apart in his later years..... as you do in music! In all my life I have never heard a bad word spoken about Bert, everybody loved and respected him and he was a true pioneer of British Rock & Roll and I feel so privileged to have met and known him personally LONG LIVE HIS MEMORY!
Bert Weedon died on April 20, 2012 at the age of 91.
By Chris Fender Black, April 2012
Link to Guitar Boogie Shuffle:
Official Bert Weedon Website:
Bert Weedon on Wikipedia:
Chris 'Fenderman' Black: