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Michael d'Albuquerque

The Electric Light Orchestra
Michael d'Albuquerque far right



Full details of Michael's
albums can be found in
The Halsall Antholliegy - Let it Rock


The road to Ollie for me, like lots of other guitarists, was: The Shadows; Eric Clapton; Frank Zappa . . . Ollie. i.e. Buy shiny guitar, Eric's Telephone Blues, Frank Zappa Hot Rats . . . Ollie. Eric got everyone playing in a position and bending every other note. Zappa used the same Les Paul with the same volume but a vastly extended musical vocabulary . . . then Ollie.

I first saw Ollie playing with Timebox in a London club - he was using a Telecaster with the highs rolled down and playing more rhythms and notes than I had ever heard before. Where most British blues players played very much on the beat (four, eight or sixteen notes to the bar - and where, in the words of Walter Becker, these were better described as guitar 'owners') - Ollie, being a musician (big difference), used rhythmic and harmonic variations that bore little resemblance to what went before.

The first recording Ollie did for me was on the We May Be Cattle But We've All Got Names sessions at Wembley (1973). He turned up with his Fender Super Champ (which acted as a pre-amp for his stage rig, and sat on top of his Super Reverb) and the white Gibson SG Custom. If you haven't heard the two chorus solo [2m 22s] Ollie did on Oh Woman (the whole of which was recorded live), it is highly recommended. Check how, at all times, Ollie's notes are related to the relevant chord - no hitting the same notes and hoping they fit. Along with the first chorus 'pull-off' to the open G-string and the ascending burst of triad triplets that he does on the 4-chord in the second chorus (I had never heard him use this phrase before - it is lightening quick, deadly accurate and very difficult to do), this is one of Ollie's best solos.

The second session for ' . . .Cattle' took place at Trident Studios. Ollie turned up in his bedroom slippers with the white Gibson and no amplifier. He used my Ampeg Portaflex bass amp (15" Speaker) and did the monumentally classic Dribble Dribblesolo [2m 45s] in one take - it sounds like Ollie really made an effort with this solo - thanks Ollie!

(He also contributed his highly characteristic gruff vocals to the middle section of this song which is about my ELO experiences of sycophants in our business!)

Ollie always tuned his guitar with the root/ fifth/octave method (which is the best vis-a-vis the minute inaccuracies of the guitar neck). i.e bottom E (open), B on the A-String and E on the D-string. Then he

would take this three note grouping up string by string - A/E/A, D/A/D, G/D/G. I asked him once about his technique: Showing me the white Gibson, he said that the very low action and rolling the "very critical" full treble down a bit to aid the seamless flow" of hammer-ons and pull-offs, were integral.

It was interesting that he picked the guitar quite hard and his hammering-on and pull-off left hand action was vigorous, which explains the good definition. Despite his modesty, in my experience of his playing, whether using the 'sweet action' white Gibson through his Fender Champ, my Ampeg bass amp or a borrowed SG with a bad action, through a Fender Twin, it didn't make any difference at all to his ability to play great sounding speed. The intro to Catharsis is played direct into the desk.

I like Ollie's trick of using pull-offs on to an open string e.g. in solos on Dribble Dribble, Occasion,  Sweet Mirth (very interesting phrase on this) and Say What You Want  (Stalking the Sleeper album)

These are always nice harmonic surprises.

He had a great easy going funny manner socially, ready to get a laugh out of anything. It might give some insight into his ways if you have a look at the Don Martin comic books that he loved. My brother, George, was having a drink with Ollie in the bar of the Oxford Poly after a Patto gig when a fan approached, enthusiastically, saying "Ollie, you were FANTASTIC". Ollie (not being taken in by flattery) replied "Yes, IT was, wasn't it!?" and carried on talking with George.

He wasn't being rude, he simply wasn't interested in that sort of thing. On the sessions he did with me he was enthusiastic, hard-working, quick, funny and very generous with his contributions to the work. They don't make them more talented or more gifted than Ollie. I feel privileged to have worked with him . . . see you again someday, Ollie.

Michael d'Albuquerque, January 2002

Michael d'Albuquerque

Face The Music



I remember having a few beers with Ollie in the bar at Morgan Studios during a break in the Stalking The Sleeper sessions . I was telling him about some of my favourite bits of his solos from Hold Your Fire ... the very melodic lines between vocals on Give It All Away and so on ... whereupon Ollie rather got into the spirit of the moment and declared that San Antone was one of his favourites .. in particular when it breaks in the solo and he does a little repetitive stutter thing .... he sang it ..


his feet ( clad in Boxer boots ) stomping on the floor ... glint in his eye .... he was so much fun .. and such a lovely guy . Imagine ; you meet one of your all time teenager heroes .... and it turns out that he is a delight . He had great presence and charisma .... star quality with absolute modesty ..... I'll never forget him."

George d'Albuquerque 2013
[Michael's brother]

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