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Allan Holdsworth: Once Upon a Lifetime

Allan Holdsworth

Guitarist extraordinaire Allan Holdsworth remembers getting the call from Tony Williams: It was 1975 and Holdsworth, a Londoner at the time, had already established a fervent underground following in the U.K. for his outstanding fretboard work with such progressive rock groups as Tempest and Soft Machine, though his activities abroad barely raised a blip stateside. All that would change after he joined the ranks of Tony Williams New Lifetime and appeared on the group’s 1975 release, Believe It.

“I was working with a piano player named Pat Smythe and quite often we’d open for groups at Ronnie Scott’s,” recalls Holdsworth. “Chuck Mangione was headlining there with Pat La Barbera on sax, Joe La Barbera on drums and Alphonso Johnson on bass. Chuck got really sick during this engagement, so there were a couple of nights that he wasn’t able to be there and they asked Pat Smythe if he would help out. Pat mentioned to the guys that he knew this guitar player and asked would they let him sit in on one set. So I did.”

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