Saturday, March 26, 2011

Jet Harris - Early English Rocker

British rock'n'roll owes a great debt to the Shadows. Beginning as the backing group for superstar Cliff Richard in 1958, the Shadows dominated British popular music prior to the advent of the Beatles and the Mersey Beat scene. Hank B. Marvin was one of the first British guitar heroes. In fact, John Lennon was noted as saying that prior to Cliff Richard and the Shadows, there was no British music worth hearing.

Just last week, founding member and bassist Jet Harris MBE, passed away after a lengthy battle with throat cancer. After he left the Shadows in 1962, Harris went on to record successful singles with Tony Meehan, including the hit "Diamonds," which was number one on the UK charts for six weeks, posted above. This song also features Jimmy Page's first session work, and later, Harris and Meehan hired John Paul Jones to accompany their act on the road; therefore, Jet had a hand in jump-starting the careers of Led Zeppelin!

Jet will be remembered as one of the first musicians to use the bass guitar as a lead instrument, (remember, this is prior to John Entwistle!) and also one of the first British musicians to use the Fender Precision bass.

The scans above include photos of the Shadows after Harris' departure, and other photos of Jet with and without Tony Meehan. These photos and articles all appeared in various early issues of Beat Monthly. Rest in Peace, Jet.

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