Allan Holdsworth Dead at 70

"We are undeniably still in shock with his unexpected death," the family stated.

Ultimate Guitar
Allan Holdsworth Dead at 70

Guitar legend Allan Holdsworth passed away today (April 16) at the age of 70.

His daughter Louise stated via Facebook: "It is with heavy hearts that we notify everyone of the passing of our beloved father.

"We would appreciate privacy and time while we grieve the loss of our dad, grandad, friend and musical genius.

"We will update close friends and family when service arrangements have been made and will notify the public of an open memorial service, which all would be welcome.

"We are undeniably still in shock with his unexpected death and cannot begin to put into words the overwhelming sadness we are experiencing. He is missed tremendously. -Louise, Sam, Emily & Rori."

Mostly known for his work in the realm of jazz fusion, Mr. Holdsworth was cited as one of the key influences of a wide array of guitar players, including Eddie Van Halen, Joe Satriani, Shawn Lane, John Petrucci, Alex Lifeson, Yngwie Malmsteen, Guthrie Govan, Michael Romeo, Tom Morello, Richie Kotzen, and even Frank Zappa, who once called Allan "one of the most interesting guys on guitar on the planet."

Guthrie Govan once said about Holdsworth: "I think it's potentially dangerous when a rock type player hears a bit of Allan Holdsworth or Frank Gambale and then dives straight into that style of playing; not only is the technical aspect daunting, there's also all that musical knowledge and understanding going on behind the scenes, and it's really hard to absorb both of those aspects at once without your playing just starting to sound worse."

Several months back, Tom Morello singled out Holdsworth's 1985 track "Metal Fatigue" as the No. 1 song that inspired him to think outside the box as a guitarist, telling Music Radar:

"The big introduction to outside playing for me was Allan Holdsworth. I remember a friend of mine playing me his song 'Metal Fatigue.' And admittedly, while the singing is kinda hokey, the guitar playing is insane. It was the first time I heard someone go outside of the expected melodic parameters, and that sounded fantastic to me.

"The DigiTech Whammy pedal felt like such a revelation when I got one in 1991 - I had been trying to find a way to approximate the harmonizer used on that Allan Holdsworth song. I bought a rack harmonizer but I couldn't even figure it out."

Rest in peace, icon.

YouTube preview picture

YouTube preview picture

YouTube preview picture

UPDATE: Tributes from across the music world started pouring in soon after the announcement was made. You can find some of them below.

37 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Fuck. I've never heard anyone come close to the uniqueness of Allan Holdsworth's phrasing, only imitations. His work in U.K, Soft Machine, Tony William's Lifetime or his solo material is all worth checking out. One of a kind musician.
    So sad. I've been getting into his work more and more lately. A true virtuoso. LOVE his work with Tony Williams.
      He was a much bigger influence on my playing than I usually let on, but I practically learned what legato was by listening to his playing. I think there are a lot of metal guys out there now who will agree about his influence (wasn't there a comment recently about that very topic?). RIP
    Yeah, I apparently triggered a whole bunch of people with that statement. But hey, it wasn't wrong. Right now, my facebook feed is blowing up with all the guitarists in modern bands who I've heard him influence. 
    Yeah Travis you and Epi and I were talking about him on that Steve Vai article... damn. I have so much respect for him, RIP.  I wonder if there's any unreleased material he had that will see the light of day in the future.
    Fuck, how can this be? There was no one and probably will never be who can play on the same level.
    the best of our kind.
    Had the pleasure of seeing Allan live in Florida a little while ago. I'm sure many beginners and pros will agree that he was possibly the best to have ever picked up the instrument.
    There are guitarists and there's Allan, he was in a totally different league...
    Unbelievable Rest in Peace one of the biggest influences of lots of guitar players (including myself). My condolences for his family.
    Same as Morello, I heard Metal Fatigue when I was 15 and it fucked me up. I was like, "I wanna be heavy and brutal, but I wanna do this." I still do heavy and brutal, but I've tried for 20 years to do that. I'll never touch Holdsworth, but it changed my style for the better for sure.
    This is the first I am hearing of Allen, and its under not good circumstances.  But isnt that the bittersweet part about life.  His passing has turned me onto yet another player to explore and try to absorb their creativity.  
    i'm personally getting sick of hearing mike portney's stupid fucking comments every time someone dies.  The guy is like one of those tinfoil hat wearing nut jobs with a sign that says the end is near. fuckin wackadoodle i hope he is next
    Wow this is really shocking for me because I just recently finally got into his solo works. He's a man who played like a sax player instead of your traditional guitarist that is why is really unique and one of the most original guitarist of our times. Everyone needs to listen to The Sixteen Men of Tain or Tony WIlliam's Believe it. It's really worth it.
    drcranium sad..there will NEVER BE another musical mind like Allan Holdsworth...I'll feel ok now thinking that him and Shawn Lane may be finally jamming together in some special place somewhere in the other side. His musical ability will continue to always remain the highest mark for every musician of guitar fusion music to strive for. +RIP+
    Allan was truly the most unique talent on the guitar you could close your eyes and hear sax violin guitar He was in a league of his own. I met we had a few beers of course. Great guy. Rest my friend. Steve price Guitarist.
    this morning i was listening the new meshuggah album and i did recognize mr Holdsworth influence on Frederik Thordendal´s solo, so yes i think his music and influence will pass on and live forever. his music helped me through difficult times in my youth, so this is a sad new for me. RIP. Genius!
     the world has lost its most innovative and exciting guitarist. RIP Allan, you'll be sorely missed.... 
    Hope Felix Martin pulls through with the tribute song mentioned in the article!
    I feel terrible, I've been playing 10 years and I've never heard of this guy despite how influential he clearly is.
    unfortunately hes one of those "underground guys that never get over cult status" hes mostly known only by guitarists but was a huge influence on EVH and Chris Poland from megadeth, Vito Bratta from White lion and countless others hell even Steve vai did transcriptions for guitar player
    Anyone who influenced the Halen is ok in my book, RIP old man. Thanks for the music and influences.
    When people think of shredders they think of rock, metal, prog and neo-classical. But there are some jazz guys out there, namely fusion, that can do some shredding, and arguably invented it.  I think a lot of John Petrucci fans probably don't realize that he's more of a fusion-influenced player than he is a metal player, especially in the early days of his career. When asked about his influences he always says it's "the Als and the Steves", meaning Allan Holdsworth, Alex Lifeson, Al Di Meola, Steve Morse, Steve Vai and Steve Howe. Half of those names are of jazz fusion players and none of them are metal.
    Sad day for the guitar community and music in general. The guitarists guitarist. Can't think of too many guys with even a fraction of this mans influence. Everything from rock, jazz, fusion, prog all the way to extreme metal have taken cues from this guy. Harmonically, technically, improvisation wise he changed the entire game for guitarists on a level that is hard to over estimate. Just reading his books makes your hands hurt but effects your mind set completely. A giant if ever there was one. The sad thing is his family having to set up a fund page for his funeral costs. Thanks for the inspiration maestro.
    RIP...I am sure he is catching up with his disciple Shawn Lane in heaven....
    Man, I was just getting into his work so recently. Was a fantastically creative player, and a hugely influential one