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Sessionmen Special

Article from Making Music, February 1987

The last of our backroom boys. Say bye-bye with guitarist Mitch Dalton.

With a flourish of the typewriter, Jerry Uwins completes his Making Music guide to the country's favourite session men. He is available for curry tastings at all times.




About 12 years doing sessions. Played guitar since 10 years old and idolised Hank Marvin. Started medical college but deflected by music. LRAM from the Royal Academy studying classical guitar under Carlos Bonell. Apart from a Benson-style solo album early in his career, has an impressive and diverse range of credits including Peggy Lee, Ella Fitzgerald, Nelson Riddle with Kiri Te Kanawa (jazz is his first love), Van Morrison, three albums for Elaine Page, Bill Sharpe solo album, David Essex, Five Star, Junior and Total Contrast. Loads of jingles and TV including the Levi's campaign, latest series of 'New Faces', 'Comedy Madhouse' and TV drama series 'Widows'. Since being made an offer he couldn't refuse, is now wielding the axe most nights in the musical 'Chess'.


"I was in a reggae band backing Susan Cadogan with guys like Pete Van Hooke on drums and Chas Jankel on keyboards. John Altman, now a top jingle writer, was on sax and it was he that got me booked on my first sessions."


"It was a session at Advision — I can't recall exactly what. What I do remember is changing all my guitar strings the night before and being very worried."


"Things I've done myself I think — like Hubbard's Cupboard with Joe Hubbard. It's in cold storage at the moment but we've done two albums. There was also a memorable straight session with Nelson Riddle just before he died. He gave me a lot of solos; it went down live and in those circumstances you just don't make mistakes."


"A wind-up on yours truly. The night before this regular 2.00pm Friday session I was called and told to bring everything I had. We were to do a pastiche of 'Around the World' titled 'Around the World in 80 Bars'. Every four bars would be a different instrument with only a two-bar gap to change over. Couldn't I overdub? No, it had to be spontaneous. So I turn up — only just in time — struggling with about eight guitars, bouzouki, mandolin, the works. Horror! I'd forgotten the banjo. Phone the wife, arrange a minicab — 'Get it down here NOW!' Shortly after, having arranged for someone to hand the instruments over in turn, off we go. Everything's fine for a while 'til we come to banjo. It's still not arrived. What happens now? Sing the part, someone hisses — which I duly do, thinking it's only a run-through. When we reach the end I discover they'd actually made a take. I stagger into the control room where everyone's cracking open champagne and generally falling about. The tape exists to this day!"


"A Roger Giffin custom Strat (with two Kent Armstrong splittable humbuckers, and a Bill Lawrence single-coil in the middle) and a normal Strat with EMGs. There's also my Guild acoustic and a Takamine electro-acoustic classic. Amp-wise I use a Gallien Kruger — the one with two 5½ in speakers — and sometimes a Sessionette which is remarkable for the price. It's also the first amp since Fenders that's so simple and sounds great from the moment you switch on. In addition to volume pedal and tuner I use a Boss FX board including Dimension C, Compressor, Overdrive and Delay."


"You have to fight very hard to keep your own thing going and hang on to your identity as a player and artist. This isn't meant to sound ungrateful but sometimes I feel my best creativity is going to other people and not into my own projects. Doing sessions is also a stressful occupation. That's why you come across a lot of lighthearted banter and wind-ups."


"Give up! Seriously, it's difficult for aspiring new players these days, particularly on drums, brass and orchestral, and strings. Lots of applications for these have been taken over by machine-based recordings. This has had a knock-on effect reducing jingle work etc, etc. In fairness, guitar has probably been affected less but there's definitely not the employment opportunities there used to be."




"Last Days of the Raj; Dean St, W1. Chicken Tikka Masalla."

Previous Article in this issue

Classical Style

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Guitar Guru

Publisher: Making Music - Track Record Publishing Ltd, Nexus Media Ltd.

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Making Music - Feb 1987

Feature by Jerry Uwins

Previous article in this issue:

> Classical Style

Next article in this issue:

> Guitar Guru

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