Godspeed You, Paul Brett

Dear friend has passed away yesterday, the great Paul Brett, guitarist and luthier, an artist fiercely proud of his past yet always looking to the future. Paul’s delight was almost palpable when he informed me "Stone Survivor: Anthology" was to be released which he so wanted me to listen to and review; and Brett was equally eager for me to hear and comment on his recent works such as "The Raven" which he based on Edgar Allan Poe’s oeuvre. The veteran never tired of mentioning his late ’60s stint with Arthur Brown and VELVET OPERA or his part in "The Magic Shoemaker" by FIRE, but didn’t really seem to appreciate the success he had with “3D Mona Lisa” – credited to PAUL BRETT SAGE – in 1970, because, above all, he valued innovation.

Which is why Paul preferred pieces he recorded on a 12-string to what he had laid down earlier, even though 1980’s acoustic set of covers, laid down on a regular one, “Romantic Guitar” brought Brett gold in Britain, and that was when he became interested in designing instruments. People just loved Paul’s Raven and Viator models, the former demonstrated on his joint effort with Gordon Giltrap and the latter on Brett’s solo suite, while the master himself found immense pleasure in collecting vintage musical contraptions – and other interesting relics, especially related to The Fabs. No less happiness Paul derived from collaborating with his wife, prominent actress and vocalist Michele Breeze and friends like “Tubular Bells” producer Tom Newman. Described as “certainly one of the best electric players – ever” by fellow rocker Dave Lambert, Brett’s proper status could be measured by his presence on Roy Harper’s 1966 debut “Sophisticated Beggar” alongside Bert Jansch and John Renbourn whose heavenly ensemble he completed on January 31st when he died of total heart failure, aged 76.

“Strange to me when I look back through my past works,” Brett said to me once. “I seem to have just drifted subconsciously through the years musically. I have never tied myself to any current trends and have always moved on without looking back. When I look at the mix of styles and genres I dabbled in, none of it was planned. It was a bit like plucking life out of midair and seeing where it leads.” He was a humble man, my friend Paul, and he will be sorely missed.

February 1, 2024

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