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Allan Holdsworth’s death impacts millions of prog-rock/jazz-fusion fans

Grammy-nominated British guitarist Allan Holdsworth died this past weekend. He was 70. Immediately, famous and semi-famous musicians chimed in on Twitter and Facebook about the immense loss to the music world.

They posted remembrances and photos from concerts. They commiserated with other guitar fans about the legend. Away from the public light, they probably turned to their turntables and turned up Holdsworth’s unearthly jams from a ton of albums, 12 of his own not including this year’s boxed set, The Man Who Changed Guitar Forever.

Good friend and MoonJune Records founder Leonardo Pavkovic sent out a link to a GoFundMe page, with this Facebook response yesterday: “There is no greater measure of a life well lived than the amount of people he had impacted, and by that measure the artist Allan Holdsworth lived a very good life. The man took a plank of wood, a few strings and some wires and transformed people’s lives.”

The GoFundMe page is for the loved ones Holdsworth left behind, daughters Lynn, Emily, and Louise, son Sam, and for a proper memorial service.

Already, people have donated $92,253 — well over the $20k goal — in one day.

Quite the measure.

Holdsworth wrote the book on progressive rock and jazz fusion. A cult figure to his legion of guitar freaks, he reached the pinnacle of legendary status by the 1980s, and remains one of the most influential, enigmatic, guitarists of the 20th century.

Despite the adulation, the guitarist never received the respect he deserved from the mainstream music industry, his style panned as “directionless” and not very musical. In order to reach the people in the audience who understood where he was coming from, Holdsworth found himself going rogue — a lot.

He was gigging to the very end, playing the kind of music he wanted on his own terms, with young up-and-coming artists (Marbin) very much like himself — completely in love with the prog-jazz that emanated from the core, and completely original, to hell with the critics.

His last album, Tales From The Vault, came out July 28, 2016 in single cuts, the result of crowdfunding the year before. The album features previously unreleased recorded works gathered over 10+ years. “I have added new SynthAxe work, new solos, new mixes and other tweaks that I wasn’t unable to complete without financial support from a record label and the terrible downturn in the music business,” Holdsworth said. “As a result, I have joined forces with PledgeMusic to go a different route to gain more control over my music and to directly interact with fans worldwide.”

Frequent, favored band mates throughout the years joined him on the record: Gary Husband (Level 42), Bill Bruford, Jimmy Haslip (Yellowjackets), Virgil Donati (Planet X), Chad Wackerman, and Jimmy Johnson.

Tales From The Vault was his first studio album since the mostly overlooked 2001 echo chamber of FLATTire (MoonJune), post-divorce.

I’m devastated at the loss of Allan Holdsworth. A rare genius who paved a huge road. Major highlight of my musical life. RIP Allan.

— Vinnie Colaiuta (@vinniecolaiuta) April 16, 2017

How many guitarists,upon hearing #AllanHoldsworth the FIRST time put their guitars in cases,NEVER to be opened again?Literally, Jaw Dropping

— Vernon Reid (@vurnt22) April 16, 2017

I just wrote a blog about Allan Holdsworth. Perhaps you’d like to read it and share it. https://t.co/nQpEe8KdCY

— Dweezil Zappa (@DweezilZappa) April 17, 2017