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Guthrie Govan

guitar virtuoso jazz fusion Fusion instrumental guitar

Guthrie Govan (born 27 December 1971 in Chelmsford, Essex, England) is an English guitarist and winner of Guitarist Magazine’s “Guitarist of the Year” award in 1993. Govan read English at the University of Oxford, though he left after a year to pursue a career in music. He is a noted guitar teacher through his work with the UK magazine Guitar Techniques, Guildford’s Academy of Contemporary Music and currently the Brighton Institute of Modern Music.

Govan is known for his work with the bands The Aristocrats, Asia (2001–2006), GPS, The Young Punx and The Fellowship as well as Erotic Cakes (a vehicle for his own music).

In 1993 he won Guitarist magazine’s "Guitarist of the Year" competition with his instrumental piece Wonderful Slippery Thing (a version of which would eventually appear on his debut solo album); the demo of the track earned him a place amongst several other entrants in the live final, which he then won. Subsequently, he submitted a sample transcription (of a Shawn Lane piece) to Guitar Techniques magazine; this earned him a job as a contributor to the magazine, ending a spell working in fast food.

Govan’s earliest influences were Jimi Hendrix and Cream-era Eric Clapton; as such he describes himself as coming from a "blues rock background". While he is "wary" of 1980s technique driven guitar music ("shred") he cites the imagination of Steve Vai (as well as Frank Zappa, with whom Vai played) and the passion of Yngwie Malmsteen as influences. Jazz and fusion elements are an important part of his style: he cites Joe Pass as a pivotal influence in this respect.

Govan is known for his virtuoso command of the electric guitar, due to both his technical ability and proficiency in various styles. Govan’s MySpace profile lists quotes from various guitarists to this effect; elsewhere, fellow virtuosos Joe Satriani and Paul Gilbert have praised Govan's playing. Satriani said "What sets Guthrie apart, is that no matter what he’s doing—picking, tapping, slapping, playing legato, whatever—he mixes everything up gracefully and absolutely nails each approach. And all the while the music sounds natural." Gilbert said "Guthrie Govan gives shred a good name. It’s absolutely heartwarming to hear someone play super fast and have musical depth to match. What a breath of fresh air."

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