Guitar Ecstasy

The enigma formerly known as Bill Nelson. Photograph by Martin Bostock

I attended the concert of legendary musician and artist Bill Nelson just recently, at 70 years old.  What can I say?  Well very little needs to be said. It was sheer perfection and I’m in the privileged position to be able to invite you to attend the concert yourselves ….

For just one month you have a unique opportunity to view the concert online via Plectronica.  Bill was accompanied by enigmatic ambient artist Harold Budd, who worked with Brian Eno amongst many others.

Check Bill’s music out at Bill Nelson.

Click the picture to access the live video stream

I also wrote about Bill’s approach to music and life in the books The Music of Business and Sex, Leadership and Rock’n’Roll.  Contact me directly if you would like to get hold of copies of the books.

Some of my Bill Nelson collection

 

Amplifying your brand

What do Pete Townshend, Jeff Beck, Slash, Alex Lifeson, Kirk Hammett and Buddy Guy have in common? They all played through a guitar amplifier brand that the legendary amp designer Steve Grindrod has worked for …

I came across Steve Grindrod recently via a couple of contacts in a most unlikely series of network connections, from Cult Punk Rocker John Otway to the owner of Carlsbro Amplifiers, a chap in Canada who I’d connected with on Linkedin via another Brit abroad who went to school with Elton John and worked on Live Aid !! 🙂 Proof positive to the naysayers that networking works … but, like everything, you have to work at it …

Steve is the designer of Grindrod Amplifiers with 27 years working as Chief Designer at Marshall Amps, where he created iconic amps including the JCM800, Silver Jubilee, JCM900 and JCM2000 and 8 years as Chief Designer at Vox, where he created the AC30, Custom Classic, and Heritage AC15. A tech enthusiast and tone obsessive, Steve created Grindrod to take the guitarist’s dream sound to new heights.

Buy your share of Grindrod Amplifiers - Click on the picture

Buy your share of Grindrod Amplifiers – Click on the picture

Steve is inviting music enthusiasts to share in the ownership of his namesake brand through popular UK equity crowdfunding portal Seedrs. Grindrod is making 50-percent of the equity in his company available through the Seedrs offering. He says:

“For over 40 years I’ve obsessed on one thing: making guitarists sound better. The way I’ve achieved this is by listening deeply to their concerns and by becoming one with their wants and needs,” said Steve Grindrod. “Since we’re one emotionally and SGA is still a young company, I felt it would be meaningful to invite guitarists to share in the growth of my brand with me. Has a guitarist ever been able to say, ‘I own a piece of the amp brand I play?’ Now they can.”

What do Grindrod amps sound like?  Well, have a listen to this demo by Steppenwolf’s guitarist:

This is your once in a lifetime chance to own a piece of music history. Shake your money maker by checking out Grindrod’s Crowdfunding Site out now.

Hall of fame

Hall of fame

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Peter Cook leads Human Dynamics and The Academy of Rock. Check his latest book “Leading Innovation, Creativity and Enterprise” out at Bloomsbury.

Leading-Innovation-Twitter

The numbers go up to 11 – Jim Marshall R.I.P 1924 – 2012

Peter displays his six Marshall stacks and his burnt Fender Strat – a total of 18 Watts of untamed power …

Last week saw the passing of Jim Marshall, the father of rock and metal amplification.   Without the Marshall amp, Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin and a host of other musicians would not have got the classic sound that became a trademark of their music.  Marshall’s great contribution to the world of music was twofold:

The Marshall stack produced a warm fuzzy sound, beloved by rock musicians, unlike its peers such as Fender, which were considered more suitable for jazz.

Marshall stacks were quite simply loud, giving Jim Marshall the nickname “The Father of Loud”.  The spoof metal band ‘Spinal Tap’ coined the phrase “The numbers go up to 11”  and more recently “20” based on the amplifier’s reputation:

No doubt Bernie Tormé will be cranking his Marshall stack up at our “Leadership meets Rock showcase” event in June.

Rock’n’Roll innovators – Steve Jobs 1955 – 2011

It’s pretty much all been said, but we lost one of our greatest old school innovators this week as Steve Jobs fell prey to cancer.  This resonated especially with me as my brother also succumbed to this most resilient of diseases this year.  In spite of huge leaps forward cures for cancer still elude medical and pharmaceutical innovation.  Having come from the world of scientific innovation myself, I believe that even cancer will be history by the end of the 21st century.  Lou Reed sums up the rollercoaster of emotions that cancer represents in his album ‘Magic and Loss’, which examines the demise of personal friends to the disease:

I was talking to Richard Bandler last night and the conversation reminded me of how Steve Jobs describes death as life’s ultimate change agent, in terms of its ability to make way for the new.  Check his Stanford University talk of 2005 on this point, shortly after he contracted the disease.  It is a breathtaking speech:

Steve Jobs was a remarkable man, so I pondered what he leaves us as a lasting legacy:

Jobs was no friend of market research, preferring intuition as a spur to innovation.  It’s a characteristic he shares with Leo Fender, who was not a great guitar player, but designed intuitively great features into his groundbreaking Fender Stratocaster guitar.  I’ll be telling the Fender Strat story in a future post.  For now, here’s my dead Fender Strat, after its premature cremation by IBM leaders at a business conference some years back.

IBM burnt my guitar

Jobs’ 2nd legacy was his insistence that technology needed to fuse style and substance.  This was modelled down to the last detail in Apple’s products, which made Apple products design icons as well as functionally superior.  People’s love of the Apple brand and design is evident in their personal tributes this week at Apple stores all over the world.  I believe this arises not just out of style for its own sake, but because Jobs fused style with substance.

Jobs’ third legacy is his mantra “stay hungry, stay foolish”.  Comfort does not make for great innovation, nor does taking yourself too seriously.  All too often hunger and playfulness are driven out of corporate life with disastrous consequences for long term innovation.  To read more on the HR issues surrounding innovation check out ‘What’s New Pussycat?”  The credit crunch and the recession have exacerbated blame cultures and disputes over pay.   Steve Jobs’ last reported yearly salary was $1.  Check Dean Becker’s blog out for an excellent personal analysis of the qualities that made Steve Jobs an agile and adaptive learner.

It seems fitting to end this post with a personal consequence of Jobs’ approach to innovation.  Here’s a piece of music I wrote and recorded on my beloved iMac entitled “Mars Warming” from the album “Music from the Basement of Cognition“.  This music was conceived as a coda to an epic film and is filled with joy, sadness and melancholy.  It simply would have not been possible to have recorded this piece of music without Steve Jobs.  May he rest in peace.

Monsters of Rock – Bernie Tormé

Last night I had the great pleasure of spending an evening in the pub with Bernie Tormé, lead guitarist for Ozzy Osbourne, Dee Snider of Twisted Sister and Ian Gillan of Deep Purple. We have a superb event coming up with Bernie soon – Take a look at Monsters of Rock Business and some of Bernie’s work:

As well as his high profile work with these monsters of rock, Bernie is a talented songwriter and recording artist.  As well as a good chat about Prince, Bill Nelson, Gary Moore and other musicians, we spent some time exploring music – business parallels:

1. How the creative process works in music and how that translates into businesses looking to innovate as a source of long term advantage – from songwriting to inventive business thinking.  We explored this issue at a global science conference with the Pfizer a while back.

2. How working with rock stars with massive egos has a parallel lesson for people attempting to lead creative / precocious people in intelligent / artistic businesses.  This was a key discussion item at London Business School’s strategy summit recently.

3. Improvisation and creativity in music and business – Bernie’s life has been about adding amazing guitar work to polish other star’s performances.  He works largely intuitively to do this.  How can you tap into a natural intuitive flow?  How do organisations such as Google, Imperial College and 3M encourage ‘intuition to order’?

4. Presentation, performance and impact – You have only one chance to make a great first impression on stage with Ozzy!   See picture below.

Master of the universe

5. Dealing with conflict and trouble at work – Rock’n’Roll is an excellent arena for learning such skills.  Some of Bernie’s stories here are x-rated and outside the scope of a public view!

6. Parallel lessons from the music business for business leaders – contracts, money, changes of plans and so on.  I have had personal experience of ‘Rock’n’Roll accounting’ having sponsored a world tour with cult punk rocker John Otway and lost my shirt on the enterprise.

These days Bernie divides his time between his recording studios and work with his band GMT.  He is also available for business events and conferences where representatives of your business get to interview him on a range of topics.  Bernie also provides cameo performances of his work if an ‘aftershow’ element is required at a conference or event.

On stage Bernie is a mighty force to be reckoned with.  Yet, in the pub, he is a thoughtful raconteur with fantastic insights and stories about the crazy world of rock’n’roll.  Contact me here or via MUSICAL EXPERIENCES if you would like to book him for an Academy of Rock experience!

Finally, here’s Bernie playing a solo with his band GMT: