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    Vertigo Artist Profile: Davey Johnstone

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    Sir Elton John's musical director and guitar master, Davey Johnstone is certainly another notable Vertigo user who added an H-Series guitar to his arsenal in 1998.

    Davey was born in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1951 and his first work was with Noel Murphy in 1968, where he received his first album credit on the album Another Round. By 1969, Davey had secured regular work as a session musician, where he began to branch out and explore differing genres of music, and experiment with a variety of instruments. In 1970, when Lyell Tranter, one of the two guitarists in the acoustic British folk group Magna Carta, left the band, Davey took his place as a member. He recorded several albums with them beginning in 1970 on Seasons, and continued to contribute to Songs from Wasties Orchard (1971),(named after the street where he lived in Long Hanborough, Oxfordshire), and a live album entitled In Concert. During his stint with Magna Carta, he played a wide variety of instruments including guitar, mandolin, sitar, and dulcimer, and caught the attention of producer Gus Dudgeon who asked Davey to play on Bernie Taupin's eponymous 1970 solo album, which resulted in a meeting with Elton John and playing on his 1971 album Madman Across the Water and joining the band as a full member.

    In 1972 he worked with Joan Armatrading and Pam Nestor on their Gus Dudgeon produced debut album Whatever's for Us, playing acoustic and electric guitar on several tracks, and sitar on the song "Visionary Mountains". Davey released a solo album, Smiling Face, in 1973 through Rocket Records and created a short-lived band called China that released an eponymous album in the late 1970s.

    Even while playing alongside other artists such as Meat Loaf and Alice Cooper during the late 1970s and early 1980s, Johnstone was never very far from Elton's projects and, following his reunion with original band mates Nigel Olsson and Dee Murray full-time for 1982's "Jump Up" tour, has since rarely been absent from an Elton John album track or tour.

    In 1990, Davey collaborated for the first time with lyricist Steve Trudell. With music and lyric in place, the two formed Warpipes, which included past and present Elton John band members Nigel Olsson on drums, Bob Birch on bass, Guy Babylon on keyboards, along with Billy Trudel as vocalist. In 1991, Warpipes released their only album, Holes in the Heavens, on self-owned label Artful Balance Records. This album was later re-released on Bridge Recordings and its title was changed to simply "Warpipes" and the song lineup was altered slightly.

    In 1996, Davey released an instructional guitar video titled Davey Johnstone: Star Licks Master Sessions for Star Licks Productions, in which he plays a wide variety of John classics, joined by Billy Trudel on vocals and Bob Birch on bass.

    In 1997, while on tour with John, Davey and then Elton John bandmate and former Hellecasters guitarist John Jorgenson spent much of their off time creating Crop Circles, an album of acoustic instrumentation released in 1998 to much critical praise.

    On 10 June 2009, Davey played a landmark 2,000th show as a member of the Elton John Band at the SECC in Glasgow, Scotland. He is currently serving as John's musical director, in addition to his guitar work, playing along with Nigel Olsson and John Mahon; he also performed with Bob Birch before Birch's death in August 2012.

     

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