60 Seconds with...
A minute’s all it takes to find out what makes a great guitarist tick. This month, legendary singer-songwriter-guitarist, Billy Bragg
GT: Who was your first influence to play the guitar?
BB: Ronnie Wood, when in The Faces and playing with Rod Stewart.
GT: What was the first guitar you really lusted after?
BB: A Les Paul Junior like the one Mick Jones played in the Clash. I bought an Arbiter copy which had a proper P90 pickup.
GT: What was the single best gig you ever did…
BB: In Belfast, the night Margaret Thatcher resigned. Unforgettable.
GT: …and your worst playing nightmare?
BB: Being heckled in a foreign language, everyone in the audience laughing and me not being able to answer back. It happened to me once in southern Germany.
GT: What’s the most important musical lesson you ever learnt?
BB: Reading music can be constricting.
GT: Do you still practise?
BB: That’s what soundchecks are for!
GT: Do you have a pre-gig warm-up routine?
BB: I do a vocal warm-up, which really helps someone like me who isn’t much of a technical singer. I have the Guitar Toolkit app on my iPhone and I go to the chords and strum my way through the scale from F#. Works for me.
GT: If you could put together a fantasy band with you in it, who would the other players be (dead or alive)?
BB: Ronnie Lane on bass, Ronnie Wood on guitar, Ian McLagan on keyboards, Kenney Jones on drums – the classic Faces line-up.
GT: Present company excepted (and notwithstanding the stupidity of the question!), who’s the greatest guitarist that’s ever lived?
BB: Of my generation, I’d have to say Johnny Marr: innovative, melodic, technically amazing and a lovely bloke too.
GT: Is there a solo by someone else that you really wish you had played?
BB: Loads, but one of my all time favourites is Night Fades Away by
I’d like to be remembered for doing gigs that entertain people as well as making them think.
Nils Lofgren. The whole song is one long solo with a couple of verses chucked in to break them up. The most joyous piece of guitar playing I’ve ever heard.
GT: What’s the guitar solo or song of your own of which you’re most proud?
BB: I still love playing the solo from There Is Power In A Union.
GT: What would you most like to be remembered for?
BB: For doing gigs that entertain people as well as making them think. People dismiss me as being all politics, but that’s just part of what I do and who I am.
GT: What are you up to at the moment?
BB: I’m on a plane flying between Wellington and Auckland in New Zealand at the tail end of an extensive Australian/NZ tour.
Billy Bragg: “People dismiss me as being all about politics.”