In Memory of Isaac Guillory
2/27/1947 - 12/31/2000
It is a sad way to end the year announcing that our friend Isaac has died. He passed away peacefully from cancer that had gone undetected. Isaac is survived by his wife Victoria, and 4 children Ellie, Jacob, Sienna and Jace. Isaac's family requested that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to NE Music, Priory House, Lawe Road, South Shields NE332AL, England. Telephone # 44-0191-4276207..
The article below was reprinted from the September, 1967 Cryan' Shames National Fan Club Newsletter (Vol.1, No. 3 courtesy of Ken Barber)
By Lynn Janutka
The story is titled "Put on a Happy Face"
Isaac Guillory was born February 27, 1947 at Guantanamo Naval Base, Cuba, where he and his family lived for the first 11 years of Isaac's young life. Havana is where Isaac's musical life began also. At the Conservatory of Music in Havana, Cuba, he began studying piano; classical piano at the age of six.
His elementary school years were nothing but fun and games. When he wasn't studying some sort of instrument, Isaac spent what little spare time he had fishing and skin diving. Studying was never a chore for him; he loved school and still does. He was never forced into music; he just grew up loving it....you can't really help it when music is all around you. His mother Victoria, is a professional guitarist; she taught Isaac to play guitar and helped him to form the exquisite style he has now.
When Isaac was 11, the Guillorys moved to Tallahassee, Florida, with the fourth member of the family, Isaac's sister Claire, then 8. Isaac was in 7th grade at the time and lived in Tallahassee through the 9th grade. When he was 14, his family made another move to Gainsville, and then after traveling a few miles by car on uncharted roads, and swinging on vines for a few miles more, the Guillorys finally settled in Palatka, Florida.
Isaac was now in high school, and aside from all his music theory courses, he became interested in swimming (not that he wasn't good at the sport already), and took lessons at the University of Florida's summer swimming program. By the time he was in 10th grade, a whole 14 years old, the University's instructors felt that he progressed far enough to help with the teaching load. Isaac became an assistant swimming instructor to grade school students.
Florida is becoming quite well known as a surfing haven, can you see Isaac hanging ten and shooting the curl? It's rather hard, but that's just about what he did. So, another love came into the life of one Isaac Guillory; Surfing. He was absolute about it.
It was about this time that Isaac enrolled in St. John's River Junior College in Palatka. He and his buddies surfed from 6AM to 11AM and then went to class--music class, of course. Here he added two new instruments to the agenda: the cello and the saxophone. "After classes, I would trot down to the beach with a surfboard under one arm and the cello under the other (being very careful not to get it all sandy), and serenaded beach bums and bunnies". Cello? The only accident Isaac had while surfing was when he wiped out and the board came up and cracked him in the ear...a good thing the blood didn't attract sharks.
In 1965, when he was still at St. John's, Isaac became a member of the hottest group in Florida, The Illusions. During this time, or actually a bit before, he quit school and studied classical guitar for a solid four months...he did nothing but eat, sleep, and drink guitar. It was with The Illusions that Isaac got his reputation as an excellent lead guitarist. With his help and the help of the other members, The Illusions became to Florida what the Shames are to Illinois.
Towards the end of 1965, Isaac, his mother and sister moved to a suburb of Chicago, Evanston. Isaac insists that he only came along because of the obligations he had to his family, and because he planned to get a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music Theory. He left a part of his life in Florida that couldn't possibly have been duplicated here, and he didn't care to part with it.
For his first entire year here, Isaac hated just about everything and everyone. He felt Chicago made him a dull, ticky tacky city person which he was trying hard not to be. He went into hibernation for an entire winter and did nothing but study guitar at the Chicago School of Music and give lessons at the Skokie Music Centre.
Hibernation is for the bears. But the only friends he had that helped make things a little better were some people that he knew down in Champaign. Better isn't that good. Fortunately, this plus a self-analysis of the situation made Isaac decide that if he was to make things a bit more bearable for himself he had to learn to cope with everyone.
Going back to school wasn't so hard. Wright Junior College had worth-his-while music courses so he stayed for three years. During the three years at Wright, Isaac played with a group called The Ravelles. The group played with a Chicago DJ, Art Roberts of WLS, several times; they played with The Flock and a group called The Cryan' Shames.
Education and Cryan' Shames do not mix. The Shames were in need of a bass player. Isaac is an excellent lead guitarist...a proficient lead guitarist and that's exactly what he had been playing all these years. But, He didn't mind learning bass; The Cryan' Shames were in need of a bass player. Art Roberts and The Flock both recommended Isaac to the Shames, so he played with them once and stayed.
Isaac has about 70 songs to his credit, but he hasn't won the fight. He feels that truly great composers write hundreds of songs before they find one they feel has been worth all their efforts. Seventy means absolutely nothing.
He has one more year of school before he gets his B.A. in Music Theory. After The Shames, Isaac would like to possibly be one of two things. Become a studio musician, or go into advertising, composing scores for TV commercials or TV shows. He has scads of jingles stashed away for one day...rainy or otherwise.
"Money is definitely a drag....you've either got too much or not enough. If I couldn't have more than I needed, I'd rather have just enough to get by."
"I lived in Mexico for an entire summer....spoke nothing but Spanish. It was just great....a beautiful city. I'd really love to get back there."
"I've got this dream, really great....I'd like to live for the rest of my life on some island somewhere and build a lean-to near a tree and have one of every instrument in the world in it, and spend forever learning every one."
"I've got this dream...even better than the other one....it'd be so great to spend the rest os my life in the Baja, California, region somewhere, just playing my guitar and watching my tanning body grow old. And if there's a girl that want's to share it with me, great."
Can we come , too?
"That was Then, and this is Now"
Isaac Guillory's Biography in England
Isaac went on to record two albums with The Cryan' Shames which included "A Scratch In The Sky" in 1967, and "Synthesis" in 1968. As the definition of Synthesis states, it was "The putting of things together to form a whole composition", with the composition being classical and rock music. Synthesis proved to be The Cryan' Shames last album , and showcased four of Isaac's songs.
After The Cryan' Shames break up in 1970 Isaac left Chicago, Illinois for Luxembourg on November 1st, 1970 to continue a journey that lasted a life time. Isaac had recently purchased a Martin D35-S guitar and began playing solo acoustic gigs. He followed his musical Muse, finding inspiration from his travels abroad. The old country had touched previous musicians, giving depth to their work and Isaac wanted to follow this path and hopefully share some of their experiences.
Isaac moved to England because he believed it to be better suited for his style of music which was a synthesis of folk and classical. For most of the next year he followed the trail from Marrakech to Copenhagen, writing along the way. In Holland, a chance meeting with Al Stewart led to his 1971 Cambridge Festival debut, and introduced him to the British Folk Scene. Al helped Isaac the most in his early days in England, and thanks to him he hit the ground running. Al asked Isaac to accompany him as he was the head line act, and for Al's encore he turned the microphone over to Isaac and said "Have Fun!"
He quickly gained recognition as a session guitarist and an acoustic solo performer, and from there the path led to The Troubadour where the history and politics of the folk movement was explained to him by Red Sullivan. His path then took him to Cecil Sharp's house to be shown the source of his heroes inspiration. Also during the time period of 1970-76 he performed at the Shakespeare's Head Folk Club in Carnaby Street in London.
In 1972 Isaac was joined by James Fairs, his friend and former Cryan' Shames member. James had "Sidewalks Of America", a new song from Geoff Boyan of Saturday's Children, another Chicago group. This reunion led to the eventual production of "Isaac Guillory Side One" which was Isaac's first solo album in 1973, and was released the following year. Besides appearing on the album, Fairs also did the musical arrangement This album later became "The Atlantic Years" after it was re-released about 1997. It contains nine of the original ten tracks, along with four tracks from his unreleased follow up album.
After touring and recording with Elkie Brooks and forming his own band and recorded an album with Donovan, replaced famed guitarist Big Jim Sullivan in the highly respected jazz group Pacific Eardrum. In this role he recorded two albums for Charisma Records. In 1980 he worked with producer Trevor Horn and released "Video Killed the Radio Star" , with Isaac on guitar.This was also one of the first songs to be played on MTV. Isaac was one of the first regular session players for producer Trevor Horn.
His association with Barbara Dickson began as her solo support act, eventually becoming her guitarist and musical director. During this period he wrote The Guitar Hand Book with Ralph Denyer. It was a comprehensive guitar tutor which served as the foundation for the BBC TV "Rock School" series. On a solo tour of the North East, he recorded a live set for broadcast by Newcastle Metro Radio which later became his "Solo" album in 1979, and released by CBS in Holland and Belgium.
Isaac appeared again with The Cryan' Shames at Chicago Fest in 1982 for a reunion concert.He accompanied Joan Baez for a television concert in France, contributed Brazilian guitars to a Mick Jagger film, appeared on a Nick Heyward album and was a regular guest lecturer at The Guildhall School of Music. Further albums by Isaac followed with "Live" in 1986, "Easy" in 1988, "Slow down" in 1992, and "The Days Of Forty Nine" which was mixed in 1999, and released in 2000. The whole album was done by him during his final illness. His CDs are voice and guitar recorded live, and are a mix of covers, originals, and instrumentals...music at it's finest! Isaac toured various venues over the years which included festivals from Edinburgh to Brussels. He did two tours with John Renbourn around 1997 which added to his growing popularity ,and last did a tour in September 2000, with his last concert seven weeks before his death.
"The Isaac Guillory Band" was formed in mid 1998. It was an acoustic jazz ensemble, but with a song repertorie. Designed as a proper concert group and stopping only three times during a two hour show. It contained solos and duets from various band members. Rather than the usual touring they performed on the big stage concerts and festivals.
"And here we all are 30 years later"Isaac's professional music career spanned 36 years starting with "The Illusions" in Florida, and culminating as an acoustic solo performer in England. His music lives on today through his various recordings on more than a dozen albums, and in the hearts of everyone whose lives he touched.
This is Isaac's Web Site....He has finally "said everything with this one". It is a tribute to a great man and musician. It is comprised of "quiet gems normally reserved for those relaxed moments, when you can enjoy the original pleasure of making music". Some of it is "High Wire with no net", and comprised of frozen moments of time whose visits we so cherish for the memories they provide.
Thank you for the music Isaac!
"He had this dashing, mysterious, continental thinker flare about him. You knew he was going to end up in some foreign country"
Jim Pilster (J.C. Hooke) from The Cryan' Shames
"A brilliant long under-rated guitarist"
Robin Denslow in The Guardian
"A quiet virtuoso"
Derik Jewell in the Sunday Times
"An electric genius"
Karl Dallas in The Melody Maker
2/27/1947 - 12/31/2000
Isaac Guillory Web Site
Isaac Guillory's Online Guitar School
Isaac Guillory Cryan' Shames Chat Room Interview July 17, 1999
Isaac Guillory Review By Andrew Richard Perry
Isaac Guillory Tribute By Rosie Hardman
Back to Cryan' Shames Homepage
Title artist sketch by Steve Krueger 1967
Graphic Designs By Barb © 1997, 1999 - 2001, 2002 .
created on Jan. 1, 2001