There are many artists who have left an indelible mark on the magical world of music and art in general.
Each of them has offered so much to the music that others would need two lives.
Among them is Davey Graham (Davy Graham), an undisputed “guitar hero” of British folk-blues clubs in the ’60s.
A guitarist who inspired many artists, including Jimmy Page, who based his solo “White Summer” on Graham’s “She Moved Through the Fair”.
He managed to change the data for the acoustic guitar with interpretations unique to the mixture of traditional themes with Blues, Jazz, and even Indian and/or Arabic influences.
Seeing years ahead of his time in the way he mixed styles, he paved the way for many great guitarists.
His special playing…
He is best known for his orchestral headphone, “Anji” and for his DADGAD Open Dsus4 tuning.
While traveling in Morocco, he developed this tuning so that he could better play traditional oud guitar music.
Graham then went on to experiment with playing traditional Folk pieces with DADGAD, often incorporating Indian and Middle Eastern scales and melodies.
The tuning provides freedom of improvisation on the treble while maintaining a constant underlying harmony and rhythm on the bass.
Many guitarists now use the DADGAD tuning, especially in Folk, but also in World music.
His influence extended from folk clubs to the emerging British R&B and Rock scene.
Paul Simon adapted Graham’s orchestral track “Anji” on Simon and Garfunkel’s 1966 album Sounds of Silence.
The intricate melody of this particular song became a milestone for any aspiring folk-blues guitarist.
The beginning is half of everything…
Although he never took music theory classes, he learned to play the piano and accordion as a child.
Then at the age of 12, he played the classical guitar, and at the age of 16, he got his first.
He became obsessed with his guitar, playing non-stop songs by Elvis Presley and Lonnie Donegan.
As soon as he left school, at the age of 18, he began traveling to Greece, North Africa, and the streets of Paris.
He also studied hard to perfect his guitar technique, watching and learning from Folk musicians such as Steve Benbow or “Rambling” Jack Elliott.
He was the first to deal with the North African style in the early 1960s.
His constant tour of the world, enabled him to record different styles of music adapted to his guitar.
As a result, many musicians believe that he created what we now call World music.
He had an ever-expanding understanding of the potential of the acoustic guitar, which proves his title as a “guitar hero”.
This title was acquired in June 1959, when he appeared on Ken Russell’s (BBC) show, playing a composite version of “Cry Me a River”.
His discography …
His recording career began in 1962 with EP 3/4 AD.
It included “Anji”, but at first it went largely unnoticed because it was far ahead of its time.
In 1963 he released his first LP, “The Guitar Player”. The following year he recorded “Folk Blues and Beyond”.
Both albums are recognized as classic masterpieces of folk blues.
“Folk Blues and Beyond” mixes blues with an elaborate guitar based on the traditional song “Seven Gypsies”.
This kind of melody will later become known as “folk baroque”.
At the same time, this is an album that we could say is a journey into Jazz and Moroccan tracks.
Large As Life and Twice As Natural and Hat
Nevertheless, he continued to record albums during the 1960s, including “Large As Life and Twice As Natural”, and “Hat”.
Both albums were released in 1969.
It is a melodic mix of Blues, Indian ragas, Bulgarian blues dance melodies with Indian Raga.
Joni Mitchell’s raga-jazz rendition of “Both Sides Now” is one of Graham’s highlights.
Admiration for the lifestyle of the Jazz world had a devastating effect on Graham, who began using heroin.
Due to his addiction, he gave fewer public appearances, however, he spent his time learning foreign languages.
He spoke excellent French and studied Arabic, Turkish, Greek, and Gaelic.
Unfortunately, he had already started distancing himself from the music scene and did not know the music revolution that had begun.
All That Moody
After a 6-year hiatus, “All That Moody” is released. It’s the first to have his name spelled Davey instead of Davy.
According to music critic Brian Downing:
“Graham has shown impressively why he is not only considered the father of the modern British Folk movement, but also a true innovator.”
This is another album that mixes Blues, Jazz, Ragtime with exceptional mastery.
Twenty years after his death, he made occasional appearances and some recordings.
Among them was the album “Playing in Traffic”, released in 1991.
In 2007 he released “Broken Biscuits”, in an effort to revitalize his career with a 13-date tour.
He did not succeed, as he passed away in December 2008, leaving behind a huge melodic legacy.