Guitarist Hank Marvin – on Brian May and distortion



Hank Marvin


Later rock guitarists revelled in dissonance and distortion in a way I wouldn’t associate with you. What did you make of Link Wray’s “Rumble” when it came out? That was a very early stab at that kind of sound?

HANK MARVIN: That was in 1958 when we were playing the 2i’s coffee bar. We used to play it, in fact. Talking of distortion, it’s interesting. It’s generally perceived that the sounds I use are pretty clean, which is true, but if you listen to early Shadows records like “Man of Mystery” or “The Savage” there’s a little bit of distortion coming through an echo box and amplified which gives an edge. There are a few more like that. I did a tune with Brian May a few years ago, a version of “We Are The Champions” on my first solo album [1992’s Into the Light]. He was saying, “People think The Shadows have great melodies but forget the tougher side. When I was kid and we were buying your records and things like ‘FBI’ and ‘The Savage’ were hard rock to us.”


Coincidentally – Hank Marvin appeared on The One Show last week, on the subject of “Heroes” – being an original guitar hero himself. He cited many of his influences, twice mentioning Brian May. Good to know there is a mutual appreciation, between Brian and one of his significant influences and heroes.