Dr Ray Russell wrote the foreword for the book from the UK perspective, well of course he should! A Bartell fretless given to him by George Harrison in 1985 while they were collaborating on the film 'Water', was treasured by Ray for decades as part of his collection of instruments that Ray played as a prolific composer and professional guitarist.
Celebrating the birthday of his friend George, in 2019 Ray posted an image of his fretless on Facebook, with the question, does anyone know anything about Bartell Guitars? When his friend Paul Brett started to uncover some amazing details about the backstory and actually finding a photo of George at home with the Bartell in his collection, Ray said "You could write a book on this, its amazing"!
So there you go, blame Ray and his fretless friend!
PS Ask Ray about Jimi Hendrix breaking into his room while on tour in Sweden. Bartell is a big connection between both musicians!
Born 4 April 1947, Ray is a highly-respected professional guitarist, renowned as a record producer, teacher and prolific composer. He has created groundbreaking jazz-rock works such as 1968’s Turn Circle and 1969’s Dragon Hill. As a composer and guitarist Russell launched himself on a fertile ‘60s London music scene as a ubiquitous session musician, along with fellow guitarists John McLaughlin and Jimmy Page. He became a member of the band Mouse in 1973, that outfit releasing a progressive rock album entitled Lady Killer for the Sovereign record label.
Royal Television Society award-winning Ray has spent decades composing TV soundtracks and shaping his expressive guitar sound to the whims of stars such as John Barry, Phil Spector, The Ronettes, Van Morrison, Art Garfunkel, Dionne Warwick, Bryan Ferry, Jack Bruce, Cat Stevens, Phil Collins, Alex Harvey, Mark Isham, Georgie Fame, Cliff Richard, and Frankie Miller.
You will have heard Ray play on David Bowie’s ‘Space Oddity’, Tina Turner’s ‘Private Dancer’, and numerous other tracks with artists as diverse as Freddie Mercury, Gil Evans and Andy Williams.
Richard Bennett wrote the foreword for the book from the USA perspective, well of course he should! When Paul Brett was deep into researching the Bartell story he found a website where Richard described getting a Bartell as one of his first guitars.
"I happened to be in Forrest Skaggs shop one afternoon when a salesman came by, one instrument really caught my eye, a shiny, red sunburst job, I made my own deal with the salesman and, became the proud owner of a Bartell."
Paul remembered Richard as a very enchanting and gracious member of Mark Knopfler's band, who he met backstage on a number of occasions.
Intrigued and a couple of emails later, Richard and Paul are engrossed into a story that Richard remembered of his friend and mentor, Al Casey, giving George Harrison a fretless guitar, coincidence? Hell yes!!
A studio veteran with thousands of sessions to his credit, Richard Bennett is also an ace producer and one of Mark Knopfler’s preferred guitar players in the studio and consistently on the road since 1994, as well as spending 17 great years with Neil Diamond.
“Al Casey was my good friend and mentor,” Bennett says of the Wrecking Crew guitarist, “he was my entree into the Hollywood studio world of the swinging ’60s, opening my ears to people like Barney Kessel, Howard Roberts, and Johnny Smith.”
Richard has also recorded with The Beatles’ Ringo Starr, Brenda Lee, Gene Vincent, Andy Williams, Sammy Davis Jr., Peggy Lee and Johnny Mathis, and has produced in Nashville for artists such as Steve Earle, Emmylou Harris, Marty Stuart, and Iris DeMent.
In Nashville circles he's the man who's gotten the call from Roseanne Cash, Marty Stuart, Emmylou Harris, Phil Lee, Ray Price, Steve Earle, Rodney Crowell and Waylon Jennings to produce or play guitar and often to do both. He's a certified Soul Man –at least Smokey Robinson, Gladys Knight and the Four Tops think so.