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Allan Holdsworth, Progressive Guitar Virtuoso, Dies at 70

Allan Holdsworth, known as a guitarist’s guitarist for his progressive rock and jazz fusion work with bands including Soft Machine, Gong, and U.K., died on Sunday, according to a Facebook post from his daughter Louise. He was 70.

Born in Bradford, England, Holdsworth had lived in Southern California for several decades. His complex guitar work was cited as an influence by musicians such as Eddie Van Halen and Robben Ford.

Holdsworth started out playing with rock and jazz fusion bands in the early ’70s and then joined up with acts from the Canterbury progressive scene, including Soft Machine and Pierre Moerlen’s Gong. He played with bassist Stanley Clarke, King Crimson drummer Bill Bruford’s solo act, and with violinist Jean-Luc Ponty’s band, and was then recruited to join progressive supergroup U.K. with Bruford, violinist Eddie Jobson, and bassist John Wetton. But he objected to the organized structures of a major touring band and left the group after its first self-titled album in 1978.

From the 1980s onward, Holdsworth released a number of jazz fusion solo albums with collaborators including Gordon Beck and Mark Varney, and continued to tour. “Road Games,” from 1983, received a Grammy nomination for best rock instrumental performance.

An early proponent of the guitar synthesizer, he endorsed instruments for the SynthAxe company in the 1980s. Reverb magazine described Holdworth’s music as, “This was quantum jazz fusion with a Fripp-esque legato style and truly otherworldly tones.”

A GoFundMe account has been set up on behalf of his family to help fund memorial expenses.

Musicians including Joe Satriani mourned Holdsworth on Twitter.

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