Eric Kershaw ~ d.1983
Eric Kershaw, who died on 18 February 1983, was one of the last great representatives of the ‘swing’ era in Britain. In the 1930‘s Eric’s guitar could be heard regularly on the radio in a programme entitled ‘Eric Kershaw and his Rhythmic Guitars‘ and later he played with top bands such as Jack Parnell‘s Orchestra and Cyril Stapleton. In the 60s Eric played for many shows in the West End including Expresso Bongo and the Benny Hill Show. He became well-known for his various publications including the best-selling ‘Dance Band Chords for Guitar’. In 1970 he became perhaps the first salaried teacher of the plectrum guitar in Britain when he was appointed Lecturer and then Senior Lecturer in Jazz Guitar at the City of Leeds College of Music, an appointment he retained until he retired in July 1981. Many students of the guitar had the opportunity to learn the secrets of the trade from him. He was a brilliant teacher of the instrument, one of the best. His methods were thorough, unorthodox and highly effective. Though he did not suffer fools gladly, with enthusiastic students he could be endlessly patient and full of an inimitable dry Yorkshire sense of humour.
He made several recordings with various jazz groups, and gave many recitals, both solo and with students. His plectrum tone and his legato phrasing of a melodic line had to be heard to be believed. In his jazz solos he placed each note with impeccable precision and a lifetime’s experience. Though influenced by the playing of Django Reinhardt, Eric Kershaw created his own immediately identifiable style. His recordings cannot do justice to the sheer magic of his live concerts. He was a great player whose stature was appreciated by all who heard him or had the privilege of playing with him and we hope that through this latest and final publication, students of the guitar may further their ability with his method.
Steve Howe from YES says of Eric:
At the age of 12 I started playing the guitar, and I attempted to find someone to teach me. This didn’t become a reality, and the only training I gave myself was from a guitar chord book called “Eric Kershaw’s Dance Bands Guitar Chords“. I really think it’s been good for me, and I’m totally dependent on my ear, but of course there are things I’d like to do that I can’t, due to not being able to read music. But only a few….
ERIC KERSHAW was a session guitarist in LONDON and he also became famous as an author of 16 guitar tutor books, including the 7,500,000, World Wide seller “Dance Band Chords for the Guitar” which he wrote in REYKJAVIK, ICELAND during World War Two. Eric Kershaw was later to become the jazz guitar lecturer at Leeds College of Music, where he taught until his death on Feb 26th 1983, He left behind him the world’s most coveted jazz guitar prize, the “ERIC KERSHAW GUITAR AWARD” competed for each year, by the guitar students at LCM.
Published in 1946, the book is described on the front cover as: ” The most convenient method of chord finding ever published. Every dance-band chord for Guitar (including 9ths, 11ths’ etc.,) is shown in both diagram form and musical notation and the fingering of the chord is also shown. No matter what chord you wish to play, it takes only a second to find it in this book. four-note, five-note and six-note formations given. “