Marcel Dadi is known as the french "Chet Atkins" and one of the best fingerstyle guitarists in the world. His personal fingerstyle was really amazing, almost erratic and often very difficult to follow for the ordinary guitar player. He was influenced by several American fingerstyle players such as Merle Travis, Doc Watson, Jerry Reed and Chet Atkins, he adapted their music and added his personal french touch and virtuosity.
One day, Albert Lee, Eric Clapton and Marcel Dadi met and of course they talked about guitar:
- Lee: I am the best guitarist in the United Kingdom!
- Clapton: Are you sure? God told me that I was the very best on earth!
- Dadi: Me? I said that?
Marcel loved to tell this story and laughed every time and although he was a bit full of himself you can understand why when you hear him play.
Marcel was born in Tunisia in 1951 and his family came to France when he was only 3 years old. He learned the guitar at the age of ten. He was at first influenced a lot by the Rock scene of the sixties, The Beatles and the Rolling stones. He was swept away by fingerstyle when he heard it for the first time with a song by Hugues Aufray, a french folk singer who had translated and adapted Dylan's songs. Seduced, he decided then to learn this new skill. After four years of hard work he started to produce fingerstyle versions of Beatles songs such as Lady Madonna.
Marcel Dadi studied both his guitar and kinesitherapy. After he had passed his exams he chose exclusively guitar and he made his first album in 1972. At around this time he played concerts at the American centre, Boulevard Raspail in Paris where the french public were stunned at his talent. His easiness at playing and unique style (for the time) became known throughout the city. By the time he started giving guitar lessons he became nationally very famous.
In 1972 he published a guitar method "la guitare Dadi" which became a kind of best seller because it was the first method written with TABS. He also included these within his LP records so that everyone could study the songs at home... in a way he is a UG precursor!
I have to say that when I discovered Dadi in 1976, it was a revelation and along with my friends we tried hard to imitate him. His first three albums are the best in my opinion because they are pure fingerstyle. He presents a rearrangement of an old Chet Atkins number, playing his guitar without any additional instruments. As is widely known this style of 'picking' is a way of playing basses and melody at the same time making one believe at first that there are actually two guitars playing together.
His first album became a gold disc and his fame grew constantly. Finally he met his mentor Chet Atkins who was seduced by his talent and they later recorded together. In 1976 he went to Nashville to make a record with a country band which spread his fame throughout America.
He was one of the first artists to collaborate with a guitar firm and so helped OVATION to update their round shaped acoustic guitars. Then he opened a guitar shop in Paris. Later he collaborated with TAYLOR GUITARS and GODIN, the Canadian guitar maker who created the first nylon string solid body guitar.
During his Career, Marcel Dadi recorded almost 20 albums of country guitar and became the french ambassador for fingerstyle throughout the world. Unfortunately it was not to last... Dadi was one of the 230 people tragically killed when a TWA flight exploded off the coast of long Island in 1996. He was returning to France after being honoured in Nashville.
Chet Atkins said about him : " I have lost one of my best friends. Sometimes I think he loved me as if I was one of his family, and I felt the same way about him."