Adrian Belew - Tips & Tricks

Started by Cricket, August 26, 2012, 05:09:18 AM

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Quote from: jim-analog on February 21, 2020, 11:01:01 AM


Hey Adrian fans, check this out:

Some really interesting back story that I'd not heard before.  Hope it's not been posted elsewhere that I missed. Enjoy!

Regards, Jim

Ahh  - My old Drummer Jerry Hertig on the far right !

"Sweetheart" band ( circa 1976 )

Jerry was playing drums in my Rocket 88 band circa 1978-1979


During the tour Belew was required to play guitar on the song Heroes. Stories abound about how that song was originally recorded in the studio, with David Bowie and Brian Eno asking Robert Fripp to play his guitar parts upon hearing the song for the first time. Fripp recorded three parts, each time without hearing what he already recorded. Producer Toni Visconti continues: "I said 'Look, let me just hear what it sounds like with the other two tracks. You never know.' We played it, all three tracks together, and you know, I must reiterate Fripp did not hear the other two tracks when he was doing the third one so he had no way of being in sync. But he was strangely in sync. And all his little out-of-tune wiggles suddenly worked with the other previously recorded guitars. It seemed to tune up. It got a quality that none of us anticipated. It was this dreamy, wailing quality, almost crying sound in the background. And we were just flabbergasted."

Robert Fripp, David Bowie, Brian Eno
Adrian Belew knew none of this, he was simply asked to come up with a suitable guitar part for the live performance of the song. He tells the story: "They believed it was impossible to play Robert's parts. No one ever told me, so I figured out how to play them. One day I came in the studio in Lake Geneva and Brian and David were having a laugh and I said, 'What's so funny?' They said, 'You're so stupid. You didn't know you can't play those impossible guitar parts so you played them.'" And play them he did, as in the brilliant performance here captured live on that tour. Belew plays some of the tastiest notes of his career on this version


Here's the story behind Adrian Belew's battered Strat, which I came across the other day. I've been a fan of Adrian's since his days in Talking Heads and King Crimson, which is longer than I care to or can remember, but I'd never heard this story before:

It also seems that he's in discussions with Fender to design a signature Strat - something he probably should have had thirty-something years ago. It'll be interesting to see what it'll be like. I'm guessing candy tangerine and/or lime gold with a Sustainiac and GK-3. I just hope it's a lot more affordable than his Parker guitars.


Adrian Belew's story about "the battered strat" used with Talking Heads:

The Battered Strat

and here is my battered strat which graced the cover of the Lone Rhino.

this is the guitar I played on Sheik Yerbouti, Lodger, Remain In Light, the Tom Tom Club, Discipline, Lone Rhino, and quite a few other records from the early eighties. this guitar went around the world at least five times by my count.

for many years now it has hung on my guitar wall in the number one position (first guitar inactive) but today I took it down, cleaned it, restrung it, and played it for a long time. it's still a marvelous instrument. the serial number is 263265 (which means it was probably made in 1969).

the back story to this guitar goes like this: after my first stratocaster was stolen or lost by the airlines I was in a rush to find a replacement before our Zappa tour continued in europe. I found this ugly forgotten brown sunburst strat on the back wall of a music store in nashville. it had no case and was on sale for $285.

returning to california to continue the Zappa tour I showed it to my buddy Seymour Duncan. "what am I gonna do? this guitar is so ugly", I asked. Seymour said, "here, I know what to do".

he went to the trunk of his car and returned with an armful of stuff. screwdrivers, spray paint, lighter fluid, sandpaper. he laid the guitar down in the grass and before I could say a word, he had poured lighter fluid on it and lit it on fire!

it's strange how quickly the finish of a stratocaster burns, spreading out just like the beginning of Bonanza.

"what have you done?!" I shouted.
"too late. now it's art", he laughed.

we spent the next hour doing what today would be called "relic-ing". gouging the finish with screwdrivers, sanding the neck, and jotting on squirts of spray paint. at one point he when back to his car, swiped some grease off the engine bay, and smeared that into the finish as well. as a final indignation, like little boys we dragged the guitar around the yard for a good coat of grass stain and dirt.

the next day when I showed it to frank he quipped, "if you wanted to ruin your guitar adrian why didn't you just loan it to a friend?"

over time the guitar was modified with an Alembic pre-amp, Bowen locking tuning keys, and one of the first Kahler tremolo units given to me by its british inventor Dave Storey. occasionally I would "upgrade" the finish with a splash of paint or a fresh gouge. at one show I let people in the audience carve things into the back of the guitar while I held it out to them from onstage. during the show of course.

the battered strat is priceless to me, but if you have a spa




Thank you! I haven't even finished reading the article and you've already doubly filled my day with delight.

yellow napkins

Just found this video in very good quality from 1978 (!)
- including the clip from post#22
VG-8, VG-99, ATG-1, GP-10, SY-1000, Kemper




Full Concert

Talking Heads  - Rome 1980 w/ Adrian Belew


Here's the new red strat in action:


Quote from: kevorkian on July 29, 2021, 04:56:41 PM
Here's the new red strat in action:

I rather miss Adrian's  JC-120 Amp, and its stereo processing  impact on Adrian's tone circa 1979, which appears to be missing here- but its good to see him play these old Talking Heads tunes again

Matteo Barducci

Seems he ditched the hex pickup, too...

---> Matteo Barducci


On Facebook, he said he has two types of rigs, for different situations. He still has his Parker 13 pin setup as well as the new Strat/ pedalboard combo.