Guitarist Allan Holdsworth is widely considered to be one of the finest instrumentalists in all of jazz fusion, yet has never truly received the recognition that he so rightfully deserves. Born on August 6, 1946, in Bradford, Yorkshire, Holdsworth was originally taught music by his father, who was a pianist. First a saxophone player, Holdsworth didn't pick up the guitar until he was 17 years old, but learned the instrument quickly. After playing in local outfits (in addition to learning the violin), Holdsworth relocated to London, where he was taken under the wing of saxophonist Ray Warleigh. By 1972, Holdsworth had joined progressive rockers Tempest, appearing on the group's self-titled debut a year later.
U.S. drummer Tony Williams discovered Holdsworth around this time, which led to an invite for the up-and-comingguitarist to replace John McLaughlin in Williams' Lifetime project in 1975, as Holdsworth appeared on the Williams recordings Believe It and Million Dollar Legs.
But Holdsworth's union with Williams was a brief one, as the guitarist joined up with French-English prog-rockers Gong (for such albums as 1976's Expresso and Gazeuse!, plus 1978's Expresso II), in addition to guesting on recordings by Jean-Luc Ponty, Bill Bruford, Gordon Beck, Jack Bruce, UK, and Soft Machine.
Also in the late '70s, Holdsworth launched a solo career, which over the years has seen the release of 17 albums (a few standouts include 1983's Road Games, 1985's Metal Fatigue, 1994's Hard Hat Area, and 2000's The Sixteen Men of Tain), as the guitarist has been joined by such acclaimed musicians as Paul Williams (a former bandmate of Holdsworth's in Tempest), Gary Husband, Chad Wackerman, Gary Husband, Jimmy Johnson, Steve Hunt, and Alan Pasqua, among others. In the mid-'80s, Holdsworth was one of the first musicians to use a Synthaxe, a guitar that contained a breath controller that proved to be a cross between a synthesizer, guitar, and saxophone (Holdsworth was awarded Best Guitar Synthesist from 1989 through 1994 in Guitar Player Magazine's Readers' Poll). In the '90s, Holdsworth created his own signature guitar model with the Carvin company.