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    Vertigo Artist Profile: Davey Johnstone

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    Sir Elton John's musical director and guitar master, Davey Johnstone is certainly another notable Vertigo user who added an H-Series guitar to his arsenal in 1998.

    Davey was born in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1951 and his first work was with Noel Murphy in 1968, where he received his first album credit on the album Another Round. By 1969, Davey had secured regular work as a session musician, where he began to branch out and explore differing genres of music, and experiment with a variety of instruments. In 1970, when Lyell Tranter, one of the two guitarists in the acoustic British folk group Magna Carta, left the band, Davey took his place as a member. He recorded several albums with them beginning in 1970 on Seasons, and continued to contribute to Songs from Wasties Orchard (1971),(named after the street where he lived in Long Hanborough, Oxfordshire), and a live album entitled In Concert. During his stint with Magna Carta, he played a wide variety of instruments including guitar, mandolin, sitar, and dulcimer, and caught the attention of producer Gus Dudgeon who asked Davey to play on Bernie Taupin's eponymous 1970 solo album, which resulted in a meeting with Elton John and playing on his 1971 album Madman Across the Water and joining the band as a full member.

    In 1972 he worked with Joan Armatrading and Pam Nestor on their Gus Dudgeon produced debut album Whatever's for Us, playing acoustic and electric guitar on several tracks, and sitar on the song "Visionary Mountains". Davey released a solo album, Smiling Face, in 1973 through Rocket Records and created a short-lived band called China that released an eponymous album in the late 1970s.

    Even while playing alongside other artists such as Meat Loaf and Alice Cooper during the late 1970s and early 1980s, Johnstone was never very far from Elton's projects and, following his reunion with original band mates Nigel Olsson and Dee Murray full-time for 1982's "Jump Up" tour, has since rarely been absent from an Elton John album track or tour.

    In 1990, Davey collaborated for the first time with lyricist Steve Trudell. With music and lyric in place, the two formed Warpipes, which included past and present Elton John band members Nigel Olsson on drums, Bob Birch on bass, Guy Babylon on keyboards, along with Billy Trudel as vocalist. In 1991, Warpipes released their only album, Holes in the Heavens, on self-owned label Artful Balance Records. This album was later re-released on Bridge Recordings and its title was changed to simply "Warpipes" and the song lineup was altered slightly.

    In 1996, Davey released an instructional guitar video titled Davey Johnstone: Star Licks Master Sessions for Star Licks Productions, in which he plays a wide variety of John classics, joined by Billy Trudel on vocals and Bob Birch on bass.

    In 1997, while on tour with John, Davey and then Elton John bandmate and former Hellecasters guitarist John Jorgenson spent much of their off time creating Crop Circles, an album of acoustic instrumentation released in 1998 to much critical praise.

    On 10 June 2009, Davey played a landmark 2,000th show as a member of the Elton John Band at the SECC in Glasgow, Scotland. He is currently serving as John's musical director, in addition to his guitar work, playing along with Nigel Olsson and John Mahon; he also performed with Bob Birch before Birch's death in August 2012.

     

    Vertigo History Lesson Part 9

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    Artist Signature. The first signature guitars of Fernandes USA product line were released in 2002, including the Reeves Gabrels RG13 and the Riggs Vertigo Custom XR, which featured neck-thru construction, maple body and neck, ebony fingerboard, graphite nut, a Seymour Duncan Full Shred, kill switch and "scumbag/x" inlays.

    This was the time when the Vertigo shape became most familiar thanks to the great success of the Rob Zombie band, who also exclusively played Tremor basses.

    Earlier in 2001, the Vertigo Deluxe received the prestigous Guitar Player Editors' Pick Award, which was enhanced with a pickup split function and specially featured in Fernandes 2002 product catalog.

    Stay tuned for part 10 coming next week!

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    Vertigo Artist Profile: Riggs

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    Riggs

    Mike Riggs, a.k.a. Riggs, is undoubtably the most iconic Vertigo user in the history of the guitar, since he exclusively played Vertigo guitars since joining Rob Zombie band in 1998. His custom Vertigo collection include his signature Custom XR "scumbag", the "blood-filled" and "pig-skin" Vertigo guitars, among many others.

    Riggs' career as a musician started at the age of 19 in 1990 when he started the band Demiltry in Austin, Texas for whom he played the rhythm guitar and sang lead vocals. He went on after this to play for another Austin band called Skrew which included future Nine Inch Nails guitarist Danny Lohner. After playing with Skrew for several years, Riggs joined Prong after the release of their studio album Rude Awakening and toured with them for some time. When Riggs was attending a WWF event, he met Rob Zombie, who said he was working on a new album, and had yet to find a guitarist. After playing guitar for Zombie on "Hellbilly Deluxe" and "The Sinister Urge" he left the band to begin his own project, Scum of the Earth for which he plays guitar and sings lead vocals. After signing to Eclipse Records, the band released their first album entitled "Blah...Blah...Blah...Love Songs for the New Millennium" on October 26, 2004 produced by famed producer Ben Burkhardt at Belt of Orion Recording in Los Angeles, California. Songs were featured in National Lampoon's TV: The Movie, on numerous MTV shows, and a slew of action sports DVDs.

     

    Vertigo History Lesson Part 8

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    Looking ahead. 2001 was a time of progressive changes for Fernandes product line and specially, for the Vertigo Series. Focusing on a more modern aproach, the Vertigo Standard was discontinued and replaced with a pioneering instrument. Following the great and groundbreaking success of the Nomad Deluxe released the previous year, the product development team installed the same digital effect processor designed by Japanese electronics innovator Zoom corporation, creating the Vertigo FX - the first full-size guitar with built-in effects.

    Musician interest kept growing that year, artists that joined the Vertigo user list at this time included Todd Youth of Danzig, Randy Torres of Project 86, Mike Miller of Godhead and Kevin Quinn of American Pearl.

    Stay tuned for part 9 coming next week!

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    Vertigo Artist Profile: Lee Ranaldo

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    Lee-Ranaldo

    American musician, singer-songwriter, guitarist, writer, visual artist and record producer, best known as a co-founder of the alternative rock band SONIC YOUTH, Lee Ranaldo is certainly an exceptional Vertigo user. He has a few Fernandes guitars in his collection, including a customized Vertigo Standard, fitted with the Fernandes Sustainer.

    Lee started his career in New York in several bands and joining the electric guitar orchestra of Glenn Branca. Among Lee's solo records are Dirty Windows, Amarillo Ramp (For Robert Smithson), pieces for the guitar, and Scriptures of the Golden Eternity. His books include several with art or photography by Leah Singer, including Drift, Bookstore, Road Movies, and Moroccan Journal: Jajouka excerpt (from a full-length book of writings on Moroccan travels and music). Lee has also published Jrnls80s (published by Soft Skull Press), as well as a book of poems, Lengths & Breaths, with photography by Cynthia Connolly. His most recent book of poetry, Against Refusing, was published by Water Row Press in April 2010 with cover artwork by Leah Singer. His visual and sound works have been shown at galleries and museums in Paris, Toronto, New York, London, Sydney, Los Angeles, Vienna, and elsewhere.

    Lee has produced albums for artists including Babes in Toyland, You Am I, Magik Markers, Deity Guns, and Dutch art rock-ensemble Kleg. He has edited a volume of tour journals from the 1995 Lollapalooza Tour written by himself, Thurston Moore, Beck, Stephen Malkmus, Courtney Love, and others.

    Lee has been ranked in many major publications as a top guitarist of all time, including Rolling Stone and Spin magazines.

     


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