Sunday, May 22, 2011

The 1982 Air Guitar Championship

Before Guitar Hero came along, people had to make do with air guitar, and I have to say that in my teenage years I was pretty damn good at it. My first axe would have been my elder brother's squash racket. Squash rackets make surprisingly good guitars; the neck is relatively long meaning you can do some serious fretwork, and it's especially good for doing that "drag the plectrum up the strings" routine, like the start of Stargazer. However, Squash rackets also have relatively small heads, so I soon graduated to the more widely used tennis racket. This would have been a cheap wooden racket from Woolworths (a.k.a. the "Winfield Stratocaster"), and it was on this that I perfected my technique. Note that when all this was happening, my ability on the actual guitar never really got past playing Smoke on the Water and Whole Lotta Rosie on one string.

Air guitar was once a serious business. In 1982 there was even the Ad Lib Air Guitar Contest, held at Camden Palace, with judges including Pete Townshend off of The Who, Andy Summers off of The Police, Rick Parfitt off of Status Quo and "Fast" Eddie Clarke. Fast Eddie had just left Motorhead and was presumably available for weddings, bar mitzvahs and these types of events. Come to think of it, he probably still is. Anyway, the winner was Jean-Francois Desbled who won, ironically if you ask me, an actual Vox guitar and amplifier. I hope they asked him to play it.


  1. I was at college in 1982. One of my fellow students was a skinny chap who wore only denim and black, had hair down to his waist and sported Motorhead, AC/DC, Saxon, Def Leppard et al patches across every inch of his denim jacket. Everyone called him Angus (of course) which he was quite happy with. I actually distinctly recall him talking about the air guitar championships, he may even have attended, and he was pretty damn good at it too!

    His real name was Clifford.

  2. Ere, it's gone all funny and unreadable round here! Well, it was unreadable before, but that was due to Eyetalian illiteracy.

    Me, I had the cut out fender from Kerrang!, which I then glued to a folded out tottie box from the Store, trimmed to perfection, and then rawked!

    God, I was kule.

  3. Capitano,
    Thing is, how do you judge air guitarists? Do you look for them bunching up their hands into chord shapes? Or do you look for serious fretwork during the solos? In one of the first Father Teds, Dugald is playing air guitar, and when he finishes he props the air guitar up against the wardrobe. Full marks.

    Signor H,
    I had that too! At least I think I did. White Stratocaster, right? By the way, in this month's Italiano Classix Metal magazine, there's a big interview with Vinnie Vincent. He has a great story - surely we're due a Creatures/Lick it up special on GSMI?

  4. Indeed, it was a white Strat. No-one looked more like a rock god than me in the mirror. Certainly not Mr Ugly Indiana 1978, Vincent Cusano. Somewhere I have the studio tapes from Creatures. [ponders applying lippy and looking in the attic].

  5. I used a wooden full sized architects T-square, looked just like a Flying V, honest (well if you closed your eyes it did!)

  6. I nearly won the air guitar contest at last year's High Voltage festival when a wasp flew up my kilt.

    Embarrassingly It was to Welcome to the Jungle by GNR who I think are shite.

  7. is there any way you could come up with the actual date of this air guitar contest at the Music Machine ? I've read a reference to it in NME - August 7, 1982. Bought the previous NME to see if the date is in that one, but it isn't...