Gypie Mayo Dies At 62: Tribute

Why Gypie was an under-rated rock and roll hero   24-Oct-13

Gypie Mayo Dies At 62: Tribute


Written by Richard Beech

Gypie Mayo passed away yesterday aged 62, he launched his career as the replacement for Wilko Johnson in Dr Feelgood back in 1977, but later became known as one of the men who relaunched the Yardbirds.

I had the honour of meeting Gypie Mayo a long time ago. Working in a guitar shop in Bath, UK, where Gypie lived, I served a man with unkempt grey hair who wanted to try out a beautiful Fender Telecaster which had been hanging around in the shop for far too long.

A colleague of mine plugged him into a Fender Twin, turned up the volume (which we'd been told NOT to do by our boss) and just sat and listened to Gypie Mayo for around 30 minutes.

Our boss came back from his lunchbreak and darted over to my colleague and I, lambasting us for allowing this gentleman to blast through a Fender Twin, which is never a quiet affair.

So we took our boss aside and had a quiet word in hushed tones. "Pssst pssst Gypie Mayo psst pssst Yardbirds, Dr Feelgood, pssst pssst he can do what he wants."

Nobody told Gypie to turn it down, and we told him he was welcome to come back any time, forgetting to ask him if he wanted to buy the guitar.

The thing that will always stick with me about Gypie was his incredible talent as a jazz guitarist, he will be well-known for rock and roll meets punk sensibility of Dr Feelgood, and he is well-respected as a blues player for his work with The Yardbirds.

But I'd give anything to be able to voice chords like Gypie Mayo could, and in the video at the top of this page (a recent video in which Gypie celebrates his 62nd birthday), you can see him knocking through some jazz licks at around 2:50.

Gypie gave guitar lessons in Bath, and it was always in the back of my mind, written on an imaginary to-do list somewhere in my head, that I needed to give him a call and learn how to play like him.

Unfortunately that'll never happen now. But thankfully he has committed his skills as a guitarist to numerous records, and he has left a legacy.

It always felt like Gypie was never truly given the recognition he deserved as a guitarist, there isn't a guitar player out there who wouldn't have benefitted from having lessons from Mr Mayo.

But he was a true British guitar great, and it's a huge shame he's gone.

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