Here’s a clip of one who once sat atop the mountain of guitar divinity, Davey Graham, here with a medley of the folk-standard “She Moved Through the Bizaar” (aka “She Moved Through the Fair”) and Graham’s own “Blues Raga”.    Davey Graham recently succumbed to cancer, aged 68.

This medley had a tremendous influence on another piece of music, “White Summer”, which featured regularly in live sets by the latter day line-up of the Yardbirds, as led by one Jimmy Page, who you may have heard of.  He later formed a group called Led Zeppelin, which turned out pretty well for him.  And the Graham influence continued on pieces like “Black Mountain Side” and “Bron Yr-Aur”.

Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page regularly namechecked Davey Graham as an influence on his playing, and in his approach to melding together styles into a unique sound that added folk ("Gallow's Pole") and world-music textures ("Kashmir"), into the rock milieu. It’s hard to imagine how Led Zeppelin would have sounded without the textures of the Graham-inspired folk-acoustic and world-music sound offsetting the Chicago blues and British blues-rock sounds for which they are most famous. And it’s not just Zeppelin who benefited. Many musicians who grew up hearing Graham arguably never would have considered adding what is now known as world music into their compositions without him.

Music and how it influences musicians is a mysterious force.  And each musician of worth tends to pass at least something of themselves onto someone else, who in turn does the same.  But in these terms, Davey Graham was a significant conduit of this particular phenomenon, although many music fans don’t know him by name.

Although he had a low-key career, his influence on the British folk boom at the end of the 1960s created a stylistic ripple effect that has lasted up to today, thanks to legendary club date appearances and his 1962 instrumental hit “Anji” (inspiring a famous cover by Paul Simon).  His influence on early folk-rock, and even the British R&B scene is interminable, touching on artists as diverse as Bert Jansch, John Martyn, Paul Simon, and of course Jimmy Page as mentioned above.

Ironically, many of the styles Graham introduced into the folk and rock worlds hailed from the very countries that made stringed instruments like the guitar popular in the first place – India, and the Middle East being two of the most prominent, with cultural influences into southern Europe, most notably Spain where the guitar was invented in the form we now recognize it.

Davey Graham knew no limits when it came to styles on the guitar. But he was not only a virtuoso, he was a cultural ambassador to  musicians around the world.

R.I.P, Davey.

For more information about this legendary instrumentalist, and more music,  check out The Davey Graham MySpace page.

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