One Random Act of Kindness
This picture was taken in 1982 in South Africa, when I was 21, in the straw roofed rondavel at the farmhouse in Chartwell, north of Johannesburg where I lived with Hugo Fernandes, which I turned into a recording studio.
The guitar was my home made travel guitar,. My sole foray into the luthiers world, in which I spent many spare hours over a three year period developing a headless guitar which would evolve into a fantastic recording instrument before being stolen in 1989 during the burglary of my studio in Hampton Court.
It had a unique sound, with two pickups, each with their own volume pot and output. So I could direct two different amplification types at the same time. It was headless, with the tuning pegs on the body side of the guitar. It had a unique retractable arm to allow a strap connection that balanced the guitar perfectly level, which master luthier Tom Anfield did for me in 1985.
I developed the sound of the instrument to my specific tonal taste by making many recordings of me basically noodling around. Fiddling with different pick ups, (Dean Markley, Di Marzio, Old Strat single coil, an old Gibson humbucker and many more that would all come and go before I found the perfect duo for the sound I wanted……). Little was I to know that many years later this sound and style would form the basis of what is now a musical genre; New age meditation music.
Many years later, in 2017, while clearing out old DAT tapes, I came across a 6 minute test of the pick up configuration that guitar had evolved to in 1987. It was labelled on the DAT tape as ‘Headless. 6.11m. Not intended as a song, but as a review test of the sonic qualities of the guitars development
I listened to the recording and realized that was my first meditation music piece. And so, when I prepared my 2017 album Riverbank songwriting, I remastered that original single take, which was recorded onto Ampex tape on a 1/4 inch Revox reel to reel and titled it One Random Act of Kindness (Preview here on YouTube)
Why the title? Since shortly after that recording was made, someone who I had helped by recording in my Hampton Court studio, in an act of kindness, returned in the dead of night and stole my studio, including this hand made headless guitar. Hence the title. One Random Act of Kindness. All that remains of that guitar. 6 minutes of meditational improvisation. Music made without any forethought. Just following the direction of a pleasing sound. Now I have 8 albums in this style although I never found the headless guitar.