Q&A October 2011, Part II
12/2/2011 (updated 12/2/2011)

Re: McCartney
Prompted by news of Paul's marriage, my question is about whether you've met a Beatle? I understand they sent the Fairports a message at the time of that band's traumatic crash and know Dave Mattacks  has drummed for Macca - but have you ever played on stage with Paul or Ringo and.... which are your favourite Beatle album and song ('pologies if you've done this before). Alastair Thomson

PS..... Repeat question for Rolling StoneS, Who, Kinks (your neck of the woods), Small Faces....

I've never met a Beatle. Yes, they did send us flowers at the time of the crash, as did the Stones. Sandy and I were invited to Macca's party in 1968 - Sandy went, I was too idealistic and precious to accept an invitation from a Beatle! I was once in the hot pool at Two Bunch Palms, Al Capone's old place out in the California desert, now a charming resort, and I was about 12 feet from George and his missus. But it was one of those places where people go to get away from hoi polloi, and I didn't have the heart to destroy his tranquility by asking about which amp he used on Don't Bother Me, in case don't bother me was the answer.

I saw the Mop Tops in 1964, I think, on one of those package tours at the Astoria, Finsbury Park. I saw a few of those, so I get mixed up as to who was on which bill, but I think it was Beatles, Hollies, Dave Clark, and a few others. Couldn't hear a thing. Favourite Beatles album - Revolver. Single - Paperback Writer. Song - There's a Place.

Depressingly, I seem to have met very few of that generation, but I suppose they were a few years older, and despite being geographically close to bands like the Kinks, they'd already moved on and up by the time we got going. I was about 2 feet from Keith Richards at a drinks party, talking to a different circle of people, and failed to meet him, but he sent me a very nice letter. I met Pete Townsend outside Harvey Nichols one Christmas Eve, and we had a wonderful meeting of minds for all of 75 seconds. I went out with Steve Marriot's old girlfriend…

Richard, I really enjoy your playing on the new Martin Simpson album "Purpose and Grace". Have you played with Martin much in the past and when you make a guest appearance do you tend to get much time beforehand to prepare for the recording session i.e. do you have a good idea of what you'll be playing beforehand or is it a case of letting the creative juices flow at the time? Colin Brades

I've known Martin for years, but we haven't played much together - we're both musicians who try to cover all the bases, so duets aren't always a natural thing. I can't remember if Martin sent me tracks, or if I just turned up. Either is OK with me. Sometimes it's easier if I'm overdubbing a solo to just wing it - it often sounds more spontaneous that way.

I also love the Elvis Costello "Spectacle" show with you, Nick Lowe, Ray Lamontagne and Levon Helm creating a band from scratch (again how much practice time did you get beforehand?). However, I wonder if you felt comfortable fitting your style of guitar playing into that scenario, after all you didn't get to choose your band members! Colin Brades

It's easy to fit into traditional styles of music like rock, Americana, blues, R&B, etc. If I asked them to play a Morris tune, it might be tougher!

Re: Trying to replicate (at least to some degree) your sound with Fairport, etc.
Hi Richard, I have been a fan for 40 years (yes, I said 40 years starting with the release of Leige and Leaf). I am about to buy a good electric guitar and would appreciate any direction you care to give on what you might advise re model/manufacturer. No, I do not play now (I have been a good hearted but admitted corporate weasel) for a long time but coming to the end of my 'career' and looking to finally do something constructive (beside potentially setting up an animal shelter or related activity). Any and all advice gratefully received. Thanks, Joe Stubel

PS I know this sounds like a ridiculous fan comment but we actually did meet once, many years ago in California at Disney's Magic Kingdom (I have the pic to prove it). You were there with (I believe) your mum and your young son and we are all waiting to get on a children's ride at that time.

The electric guitar world now seems to have polarized into the Gibson camp and the Fender camp, i.e. single coil and humbucking pickups. Humbuckers are fatter and rounder, single coils are thinner and wirier. I go for the Fender-type sound myself, because a lot of my heroes played with that tone, but you must decide what you want to sound like, and perhaps as a beginner, who you want to emulate. It might be good to start with something cheaper to see if that's the direction for you - you can get a cheaper Fender, Gibson or Danelectro for a few hundred dollars, before you invest in something for a couple of thousand. If you do Ebay, that's a great place to find bargains.