Isaac Guillory

Last updated

Isaac Guillory
Isaac Guillory, guitarist on stage at Cambridge Folk Festival, July 1985.jpg
Guillory on stage at the 1985 Cambridge Folk Festival
Background information
Born(1947-02-27)February 27, 1947
US Naval Base, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba
DiedDecember 31, 2000(2000-12-31) (aged 53)
Genres Folk
Labels Atlantic Records, Personal Records, Graffiti
Associated acts The Cryan' Shames, Pacific Eardrum, The Isaac Guillory Band

Isaac Guillory (February 27, 1947 – December 31, 2000) was an American folk guitarist. [1]



Guillory first began performing in 1965, while still attending St. John's River Junior College where he became a member of The Illusions, eventually becoming lead guitarist.

While studying music at Roosevelt University in Chicago during 1965 to 1969, he recorded two albums with The Cryan' Shames as bass player. [1]

Towards the end of 1965, Guillory moved to Chicago where he studied guitar at the Chicago School of Music.

He then attended Wright Junior College for three years where he played with The Revelles. The group played with Chicago DJ, Art Roberts, of WLS. He then played with The Cryan' Shames. [2]

During 1970 to 1976 Guillory performed at the Shakespeare's Head Folk Club in Carnaby Street, London.

After active resistance to the Vietnam War, Guillory left the USA in November 1970, acquired a Martin D-35 and lived throughout Europe. He worked as an acoustic solo performer and settled in the United Kingdom. Guillory came to earn a reputation as one of the best guitarists ever. Many guitarists today emulate techniques Guillory evolved in the early 70's while living in the south of Spain. A particular signature technique that he developed was 'hybrid picking', where he would sustain a bass line with a plectrum held between his thumb and first finger, whilst picking chord and melody lines with his second and third fingers.

Having studied classical guitar in his younger years, Guillory would often incorporate quasi-classical techniques into his playing and on occasions would even throw in some pure classical guitar pieces, merging them into various songs as a medley.

His soft American accent always went down well with British audiences and Guillory would exploit this with his witty on-stage banter between songs. Throughout his career, Guillory sought to encourage younger musicians at every opportunity and would often allow them to play as a 'floor-act' before he came on stage.

He was widely known for insisting on carrying his own PA sound system with him from gig to gig. This allowed him to reproduce the exact sound he wanted night after night regardless of the venue. This was quite rare at the time with solo singer/guitarists on the folk circuit and certainly helped him to communicate his renowned performing skills to his audiences without having to fear the usual technical blips that can occur using a venue's house PA.

He always concentrated on live solo performances (which put him up-close with more intimate small audiences) and sharing his understanding of music; touring, creating his own online guitar school. [3] After an initial recording deal with Atlantic Records published five more CDs on his own independent label, Personal Records. [4] As a performer he was dedicated to sharing his gift with both audience and fellow musicians, and as a teacher he never hesitated to share in a manner that others could understand.

He performed frequently as a guest artist for recordings and films with, among many others, Al Stewart, Donovan, Mick Jagger, Elkie Brooks, Michael Marra, Peter Sarstedt, Buggles, Barbara Dickson, and Nick Heyward. Guillory released Isaac Guillory, a self-titled album in 1974. For a while he delved into jazz fusion and recorded with Pacific Eardrum. Isaac lectured at the Guildhall School of Music in London. His music can be heard on 'A' Net Station, [5] a web radio station that he helped found, where his website continues to be available. [6]

He also wrote The Guitar Hand Book with friend, Ralph Denyer, which became the foundation for the BBC series Rockschool.

In his later years, he performed on the folk club circuit in Great Britain. His virtuoso guitar playing made him popular with audiences and ensured a steady stream of work as a performer and teacher. His final album, The Days of '49, recorded on tour during late 1999 and released in early 2000, included a number of solo compositions as well as arrangements of some folk standards. His tribute to the British guitarist John Renbourn, "Dear John", is one of the highlights of an outstanding album.

Personal life

Guillory was born at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, Cuba, the son of Victoria (Ojalvo) and Easton Joseph Guillory, an American sailor. [1] His maternal grandparents were Jewish emigrants from Turkey, who met and married by arrangement only 10 days before they sailed for Cuba. His family was Jewish. [7] [8]

He attended the Conservatory of Music, Havana, where he studied classical piano at the age of six. Guillory's mother, a professional musician, taught him to play guitar. When he was 11, Guillory moved to Tallahassee, Florida. At age 14, he moved again to Gainesville, then finally settled in Palatka, Florida.

By age 14, after enrolling in University of Florida's swimming program, he became an assistant swimming instructor. He was a student at St. Johns River State College, at the time named St. Johns River Junior College, in Palatka. There, he studied the cello and saxophone.

He married twice, first to the English model Tina Thompson (divorced 1990), mother of Jace and British actress and model Sienna Guillory, then in 1993, to Victoria McMillan, mother of Easton and Ellie.

Guillory died on New Year's Eve 2000. His death was attributed to complications from cancer that had gone undetected for some time.

Album Isaac Guillory

Isaac Guillory was produced by Ian Samwell, Jeff Dexter, Jim Fairs, and was released in 1974 by Atlantic Records SD 7307, 1974.

Isaac Guillory: Guitars, Bass, Mellotron, ARP, Vocals
Jim Fairs: Guitar, Dulcimer
Peter Gavin: Drums (1)
Jim Carey: Drums (2, 8, 10)
Roger Pope: Drums (5)
Fred Gandy: Bass (1, 5, 7)
Jim Cole: Bass (8, 10)
Sam Gopal: Tablas (7, 8, 9)
Cathy Hall: Flute
Johnse Holt: Electric Guitar (8)
Mox: Harp


Guillory created and contributed to a number of albums, including:

Related Research Articles

John McLaughlin (musician) Guitarist, founder of the Mahavishnu Orchestra

John McLaughlin is an English guitarist, bandleader, and composer. A pioneer of jazz fusion, his music combines elements of jazz with rock, world music, Indian classical music, Western classical music, flamenco, and blues. After contributing to several key British groups of the early 1960s, McLaughlin made Extrapolation, his first album as a bandleader, in 1969. He then moved to the U.S., where he played with Tony Williams's group Lifetime and then with Miles Davis on his electric jazz-fusion albums In a Silent Way, Bitches Brew, Jack Johnson, and On the Corner. His 1970s electric band, the Mahavishnu Orchestra, performed a technically virtuosic and complex style of music that fused electric jazz and rock with Indian influences.

Robby Krieger American rock guitarist and songwriter

Robert Alan Krieger is an American guitarist and singer-songwriter best known as the guitarist of the rock band the Doors; as such he has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Krieger wrote or co-wrote many of the Doors' songs, including the hits "Light My Fire", "Love Me Two Times", "Touch Me", and "Love Her Madly". After the Doors disbanded, Krieger continued his performing and recording career with other musicians including former Doors bandmates John Densmore and Ray Manzarek. He was listed by Rolling Stone as one of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time.

Guitar solo

A guitar solo is a melodic passage, instrumental section, or entire piece of music written for a classical guitar, electric guitar or an acoustic guitar. In 20th and 21st century traditional music and popular music such as blues, swing, jazz, jazz fusion, rock and metal, guitar solos often contain virtuoso techniques and varying degrees of improvisation. Guitar solos on classical guitar, which are typically written in musical notation, are also used in classical music forms such as chamber music and concertos.

Jim Hall (musician) American jazz guitarist, composer (1930–2013)

James Stanley Hall was an American jazz guitarist, composer and arranger.

John Renbourn English guitarist and songwriter

John Renbourn was an English guitarist and songwriter. He was best known for his collaboration with guitarist Bert Jansch as well as his work with the folk group Pentangle, although he maintained a solo career before, during and after that band's existence (1967–1973).

Fingerstyle guitar

Fingerstyle guitar is the technique of playing the guitar or bass guitar by plucking the strings directly with the fingertips, fingernails, or picks attached to fingers, as opposed to flatpicking. The term "fingerstyle" is something of a misnomer, since it is present in several different genres and styles of music—but mostly, because it involves a completely different technique, not just a "style" of playing, especially for the guitarist's picking/plucking hand. The term is often used synonymously with fingerpicking except in classical guitar circles, although fingerpicking can also refer to a specific tradition of folk, blues and country guitar playing in the US. The terms "fingerstyle" and "fingerpicking" also applied to similar string instruments such as the banjo.

Ronnie Earl

Ronnie Earl is an American blues guitarist and music instructor.

Jim Messina (musician) American musician

James Messina is an American musician, songwriter, singer, guitarist, recording engineer and record producer. He was a member of the folk rock group Buffalo Springfield, a founding member of the pioneering country rock band Poco, and half of the soft rock duo Loggins and Messina with Kenny Loggins.

The Ides of March (band) American rock band

The Ides of March is an American rock band that had a major US and minor UK hit with the song "Vehicle" in 1970. After going on hiatus in 1973, the band returned with their original line-up in 1990 and has been active since then.

Andrew York is an American Grammy Award winning classical guitarist and composer.

Hubert Sumlin

Hubert Charles Sumlin was a Chicago blues guitarist and singer, best known for his "wrenched, shattering bursts of notes, sudden cliff-hanger silences and daring rhythmic suspensions" as a member of Howlin' Wolf's band. He was ranked number 43 in Rolling Stone's "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time".

<i>Before Became After</i> 2004 studio album by Proto-Kaw

Before Became After is a reunion album from the original Kansas II lineup, under their new name of Proto-Kaw. The Special Edition contains three bonus tracks - one new original song, a live version of "Belexes", plus a “single” version of “Words of Honor”. It also includes an informative interview CD-ROM video about the group.

Adrian Oxaal is an American-born English musician and music educator, best known for being the lead guitarist in James 1997–2002 and 2015–present. He has also played with the bands Sharkboy, Oysterband and Goat.

Jim James American musician

James Edward Olliges Jr., professionally known as Jim James or Yim Yames, is an American vocalist, guitarist, producer, and primary songwriter of the rock band My Morning Jacket. He has also released several solo albums.

The Cryan' Shames are an American garage rock band from Hinsdale, Illinois. Originally known as The Travelers, the band was formed by Tom Doody ("Toad"), Gerry Stone ("Stonehenge"), Dave Purple ("Grape") of The Prowlers, Denny Conroy from Possum River, and Jim Fairs from The Roosters, Jim Pilster, and Bill Hughes. The band's most successful song was their cover of The Searchers' "Sugar and Spice".

Carl Verheyen is an American musician best known for being the guitarist of Supertramp, the leader of the Carl Verheyen Band, and as a Los Angeles session guitarist. He was ranked One of the World’s Top 10 Guitarists by Guitar Magazine and won the LA Music Awards category of Best Guitarist at their 6th annual awards ceremony. He has recorded with such artists as The Bee Gees, Dolly Parton, Victor Feldman, Richard Elliot, and Stanley Clarke and has played guitar on film soundtracks including The Crow, The Usual Suspects, Ratatouille, and Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, and TV shows Cheers, Seinfeld, and Scrubs.

Larry Gray is a Chicago musician known for his compositions and skill on the double bass and cello. His primary teachers were Joseph Guastafeste, longtime principal bassist of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and cellist Karl Fruh.

<i>A Scratch in the Sky</i> 1967 studio album by The Cryan Shames

A Scratch in the Sky (1967) is the second album by The Cryan' Shames. For this album, new members Isaac Guillory and Lenny Kerley join the lineup. Dave Purple and Jerry Stone are no longer listed on the credits. On their second album, the Cryan' Shames shifted from the heavy British Invasion and Byrds influences of their debut into a more California sunshine pop-flavored sound, without abandoning their debts to the Beatles and the Byrds altogether. On this second album, all but 2 songs are original compositions by Jim Fairs and Lenny Kerley.

<i>Synthesis</i> (The Cryan Shames album) 1968 studio album by The Cryan Shames

Synthesis is the third album by The Cryan' Shames and was released in 1968. It contains some lineup changes from their second album, A Scratch in the Sky. Drummer Dennis Conroy was replaced by Alan Dawson, and Jim Fairs moved on with Dave Carter on guitar. Synthesis is an apt name for an album that, like its predecessor, A Scratch in the Sky, proved the Cryan' Shames to be among the most versatile mainstream pop/rock groups of the late 1960s.

<i>Postcards from Home</i> 1986 studio album by Nick Heyward

Postcards from Home is the second solo album by English singer-songwriter Nick Heyward. It was released in 1986 through Arista Records and produced two UK chart singles, ‘’Over the Weekend’’ (#43) and ‘’Goodbye Yesterday’’ (#82).


  1. 1 2 3 Flynn, Nicholas (January 11, 2001). "Obituary of Isaac Guillory". The Independent (London). Retrieved September 25, 2009.
  2. "Isaac Guillory".
  3. Guillory guitar school Archived September 28, 2007, at the Wayback Machine at
  4. Personal Records at
  5. "'A' NET STATION Antarctica Web Radio streaming MP3 commercial-free from WAY DOWN IN THE SUB-ANTARCTIC".
  6. Guillory page at
  7. "Isaac Guillory - Intuitive Productions".
  8. Bryony Gordon (May 5, 2004). "An uphill challenge fit for two". The Daily Telegraph. London.