John Etheridge - Changing man

One of the most respected musicians of his generation John Etheridge has never been one to restrict himself to one musical context. His career has seen him in a multitude of musical situations from playing with Soft Machine to French violin legend Stéphane Grappelli to his Zappa project the Zappatistas and with classical guitarist John Williams. As the latest release by the Soft Machine Legacy band is released, Duncan Heining looks back with John on some career highs and one or two lows. John Etheridge - Changing man
Guitarist John Etheridge has packed more into one career than any 10 other players could. Hugely versatile but totally convincing in any setting, John is a musician’s musician. Struggling with the demands of fame, Sting told The Guardian in 1981 he never wanted to be a star but rather “just a highly respected musician like John Etheridge.Way to go yet, Gordon, but the point’s well made.  

Listen to John’s solo on Hugh Hopper’s ‘Footloose’ that opens Steam, the new Soft Machine Legacy CD, and you’ll see what Sting meant. From Soft Machine to Stéphane Grappelli, Nigel Kennedy and John Williams, Etheridge has been making music since the early 1970s with equal measures of finesse, taste and inventiveness.  In fact, he’s never known any other career than that of the professional musician.

“I was brought up in Surrey, which was where Status Quo, Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck came from, which was a good area for music, close to south London and so on.  That’s always the question – why a guitar player gets into jazz – and my dad played all this Teddy Wilson and Fats Waller-ish Stride piano. So, that obviously made an impression.”

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