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Remembering Bert Weedon, Guitar Teacher To Rock Stars (And Many More)

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Remembering Bert Weedon, Guitar Teacher To Rock Stars (And Many More)

Remembering Bert Weedon, Guitar Teacher To Rock Stars (And Many More)

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  • Transcript

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

The road to rock and roll stardom begins with a few simple steps.

(SOUNDBITE OF A GUITAR)

BERT WEEDON: That the first chord.

(SOUNDBITE OF A GUITAR)

WEEDON: Everyone learns that chord. This is the second.

(SOUNDBITE OF A GUITAR)

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

A generation of British guitarists started off with those chords and that teacher, Bert Weedon. He was the author of a guide with the optimistic title: "Play in a Day." Weedon has died at the age of 91.

BLOCK: "Play in a Day" was first published in 1957. It became a seed from which rock royalty grew.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

BLOCK: Eric Clapton strummed his first chords following Bert Weedon's book.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SIEGEL: So did Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

BLOCK: And George Harrison, Paul McCartney and John Lennon of The Beatles.

SIEGEL: Pete Townsend of The Who. The list goes on and on. "Play in a Day" sold millions of copies.

BLOCK: Weedon himself learned to play as a child. He bought his first guitar at age 12. He told the BBC he had a hard time finding a teacher and a hard time learning the style of music he wanted to play.

WEEDON: I eventually found a teacher, and he was an old gentleman, a very nice man. He said: What sort of music do you like? I said: I love jazz. And he said: Jazz? Jazz? I'm not going to teach you that rubbish.

BLOCK: Instead, Weedon was taught classical guitar. He learned jazz and rock later. He went on to perform with jazz artists such as Stephane Grappelli, and he accompanied the likes of Frank Sinatra, Rosemary Clooney and Judy Garland.

SIEGEL: He rose up the British charts with this instrumental hit in the late 1950s.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "GUITAR BOOGIE SHUFFLE")

SIEGEL: "Guitar Boogie Shuffle" made Weedon a rock guitar star. But his ultimate stardom came from "Play in a Day."

BLOCK: A legend, a wizard, a god. He was called all those things by now-legendary guitarists. And Weedon's love affair with the instrument never ended.

WEEDON: And it's a sexual thing, but it's also a beautiful thing. It's like a beautiful woman. You can cuddle it.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SIEGEL: Bert Weedon died last week after a long illness. He was 91.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

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