Allan Holdsworth blew the minds of Eddie Van Halen, Steve Vai and a generation of guitar heroes – and his extraordinary fretboard hacks are still inspiring players today

Allan Holdsworth
(Image credit: Michael Putland/Getty Images)

Allan Holdsworth was born in Bradford, Yorkshire in 1946. An early member of bands like Soft Machine and UK, in the ’80s he released a slew of masterpiece albums that changed the landscape of jazz and fusion guitar. His style was so influential that his name is mentioned by the likes of Van Halen, Satriani, and Vai as one of the greatest guitarists to have walked the planet.

Allan had a linear melodic style that defied tradition. He also possessed a unique self-taught perception of theory and and the guitar fretboard, quite removed from the more formulated structures we are used to today. 

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Charlie Griffiths

Charlie Griffiths plays guitar in acclaimed prog-metal outfit Haken, and has a wealth of experience handling corporate and session gigs for genres as diverse as rock, heavy metal and pop. He has been a regular contributor to Total Guitar, Guitar Techniques, and Guitar World for over a decade, and released his debut solo album Tiktaalika in 2022.