Tonight, I want to talk about one of my all time favorite guitarists who, unfortunately, died tragically about three years ago from throat cancer. His name…Eric Roche. The biographical material I could gather indicates he was born in New York but moved with his parents to Tralee, County Kerry in Ireland. He enrolled in the London Musician’s Institute in 1992 to study classical guitar. When he finished his degree in 1996, he became head of the guitar department. In 2000, he took a position as the head of guitar at the Academy of Contemporary Music in Guildford, England. In 2006, shortly after his death, the Guitar School of the Academy of Contemporary Music in Guildford was re-named to "ACM Eric Roche Guitar School” in his honor. His wife Candy is now raising their two children, Stefan and Francesca.
In 2006 Roche's Tablature Collection #1 was published. It was jointly produced by Roche and his close friend Thomas Leeb, who dedicated his work to Roche and donated all of his income from the book to Roche’s children. In fact, Thomas Leeb will be the next Guitarist I review.
Eric had a unique style of playing. His main axe was a Lowden 010 with a cedar top and mahogany back and sides. He had a percussive style of playing because of which a clear plastic scratch plate was affixed to the top of his guitar just below the sound hole. His playing involved drumming on the top and body of the guitar to create a variety of percussion effects. He would also use the scratch pad to elicit sounds ranging from a jazz drummer using brushes on a snare to a DJ scratching his records.
Go to You Tube and watch/listen to the following three videos in this order to get a sense of his style: (If the links don’t work, cut and paste them into your browser).
• She Drives Me Crazy, originally by the Fine Young Cannibals. Watch and listen to the crazy tapping and scratching. It complements the song perfectly. I like his version better than the original and as a bassist, I felt da funk coming through.
• Jump (Van Halen): Incredible! Who needs a band? He plays bass, drums and guitar on one instrument.
• Nirvana’s theme for a generation: Smells like Teen Spirit: Amazing guitar work. You really have to see and listen to the You Tube video to appreciate what he does. I love his style. When he goes into the middle strumming part and uses his scratch pad it sounds almost like a wah wah effect.
Eric was one of the best that’s ever been. His death was hard on his family, both emotionally and monetarily. So, listen to the videos then go to his website at http://www.ericroche.com and buy one of his CD’s. The money will help support his wife and kids.
I know you’ll enjoy Eric’s music so what are you waiting for? Grab a bottle of wine and a glass, kick back, and enjoy one of the most innovative and talented guitarists that God ever placed on this earth. See ya’ll later.