He was known simply as Mr Guitar and was the inspiration for a generation guitar legends like Eric Clapton and Paul McCartney.
Born in East Ham, East London in 1920 he was just 12 years old when he persuaded his dad to by him a guitar from a stall in Petticoat lane Market for the equivalent of 75p.
In a very varied career that took him from playing with some of the top dance bands of the day such as Ted Heath and Mantovani before going on to backing great stars like Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Nat king Cole and Judy Garland before having chart success in the 1950s with Guitar Boogie Shuffle and Nashville Boogie.
He was nearing 40 years of age before he became the inspiration that brought us the sound that we have got to know and to love. It was in 1957 that his book ‘Play in a day’ was released which became the manual that introduced a generation of young musicians to Stardom. Paul McCartney, John Lennon and George Harrison all learned to play the guitar from his book, without Bert we may never have heard guitar Idols like Keith Richards, Pete Townsend and Brian May.
Every youngster who wanted to learn the guitar bought is book ‘Play in a day’ because they all were eager to learn as fast as they could. It was the Shadows who owed so much to him for there success that recorded a tune called Mr Guitar as a tribute to him.
I remember hearing Bert on his many appearances on the Sunday morning radio show ‘Easy Beat’ and have always regarded his hit Guitar Boogie Shuffle has one of the great instrumental tracks of it’s age.
The ‘Play in a day’ book went on to sell millions and was surely the reason for the growth of first the 60s beat sound that led to the first Rock Bands in the 1970s.
Rest in peace Bert we owe you so much for the wonderful music you inspired.