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Zanna Gregmar Vocal Development

Fuzz magazine
Sweden, March 2008

Excerpts from the article:

Bassist Steve York, from the group Vinegar Joe with the singers Robert Palmer and Elkie Brooks, recruited Ollie for his solo project Camelo Pardalis.

"He was one of the best guitarists I have heard. He played passionately right out of his heart and always had the most fabulous original ideas. At the same time he was always very tasteful. I can still hear his unique guitar sound, 35 years later – clear and shimmering.
– My favourite memory is when I played old Louis Jordan records for him. Few English musicians were acquainted with his music at the time and Ollie had a revelation when he discovered this link between r & b, jazz, and rock ’n roll. I wish I had had more opportunities to play with him. He was one of the great!"

Swedish singer and keyboard player Zanna Gregmar was partner with Ollie during five years in the 1980s, both musically and privately. Their relation began when they both worked with Bill Lovelady and it continued in the Spanish based Cinemaspop and in Kevin Ayers band.

"Ollie wasn’t an easy person to work with, but though many geniuses aren’t. He was a multitalented person, he also had an artistic side and painted and drew pictures. He was a multi-instrumentalist who could pick up any instrument and start playing it. At the same time he had a completely weird sense of humour and constantly made up practical jokes. He always found a way to make people laugh during travels.

"But he also had quite a temper and was a perfectionist who had incredible demands on his fellow musicians. The reason one could stand working with him was that the result always turned out to be so good, Zanna, who today works as a singing teacher in England, says.
– Ollie could write songs quickly if it was requested. We had a group in Spain called Cinemaspop and in preparation of our second album, the producer, a character we called ‘Dracula’, constantly demanded new songs. So we ended up writing 35 songs in one week! Ollie could always rely on his creative force in all situations!

"He loved all kinds of music, even opera. I remember flying with him to the U.S. where Ollie sat with a walkman on, and all of a sudden exploded loud and clear in ‘La donna e mobile’ so that all passengers gloated at him! He often lived in a world of his own, kind of in another dimension.

"The coolest thing with Ollie’s way of playing was that he in the middle of a solo could completely leave the key of the song just to return right at the end of the solo. It left chills in your body! My best memory of Ollie was when we had a sound check in Majorca when backing the first punk rocker in Spain, Ramoncin. Ollie checked his sound and suddenly went into a guitar solo which made people’s hair stand at ends. Right at that moment his amp caught fire and started to burn. Everyone said that was “the hottest guitar solo ever played”!"

A Swedish musician who has been a fan of Ollie for a long time is Kee Marcello. He even wrote a tribute to Ollie and Patto, Tattoo For Patto, on his album Melon Demon Divine.

"Ollie Halsall sort of was everything at one and the same time – he had an amazing presence, he was totally crazy and could go away in any direction whatever! It was a fabulous beat when he played and he had an incredible tone. When my friends came with Van Halen's first album, I just played my Patto records to them, this was already done! Ollie had total control of both hammer-ons and legato technique. I remember me and Johan Norberg [also a well-known guitarist in Sweden] trying to figure out Ollie-riffs from the records when we were young.
– Patto was an incredibly important band for me. They had a quite simple base of rock, and yet so many layers. They played as a support act to Ten Years After in Stockholm in 1972 and Ollie apparently played the ass of Alvin Lee to pieces, I’ve heard, but Alvin liked Ollie so it was okay on his part. Unfortunately I never got the cans to see Ollie live, I know he played with Bill Lovelady in Umeå, but I was to young to be admitted.
– Every day I can tell how Ollie has affected my way of playing, with hammer-ons, alternate picking…. All this I have Ollie to thank for."


Interviews and article by
Mikael Jansson

Fuzz magazine, March 1988

English translation by Anders Öhman

> Patto in Stockholm