His name has never been a household one, except for his own musical household, yet every listener of any classic rock radio station heard Ricky Gardiner‘s guitar many, many times. The Scottish artist, who passed away on May 13th at the age of 73, may not have been famous for cofounding prog outfit BEGGARS OPERA, but the licks he played on “The Passenger” and “Lust For Life” became as immortal as these Iggy Pop perennials per se; more so, Ricky composed music for the former piece on the album titled after the latter – but not before working with that platter’s certain co-producer named David. Gardiner’s was a prominent presence on Bowie’s “Low” where he laid down six-string lines on “Sound And Vision” and “Always Crashing In The Same Car” alongside few other songs, while the veteran’s subsequent career, which included numbers co-penned with wife Virginia Scott, his old band vocalist, and augmented with drums from their son Tom, saw him experiment with ambient textures.
In 2000 Ricky told me he had started BEGGARS OPERA, “with a view to exploring music in an open minded way. The development of musical ideas was arrived at through democratic means. In fact, the whole band experience was, for me, an interesting experiment in democracy and was a great learning ground, where the operation and relationship of personalities could be abnormal at close quarters” – and that’s what defined the guitarist’s approach to various projects, such as "Songs For The Electric" from 2015. This was Gardiner’s last-ever release, and quite possibly, the hardest record to do, as he suffered from electromagnetic hypersensitivity which made the player’s life a nightmare – and still, he persevered for years, amassing an amazing legacy, with the ensemble and solo.
My condolences go out to Virginia and Tom. Ricky will be missed.