The Total Guitar acoustic music timeline
24th Jun 2014 | 23:10
ACOUSTIC EXPO 2014: Here in 2014, with the dewy-eyed retro revival and the resurgent popularity of the singer/songwriter, its easy to forget that at one period - we’re looking at you, the 80s - playing acoustic guitar was about as cool as wearing socks with sandals.
Here we chart the key moments (and changing fortunes) of acoustic music, over the course of the last half century…
Davy Graham releases his instrumental, Anji, which becomes the most influential piece of folk guitar ever.
Folk’s favourite son, Bob Dylan, goes electric: judas!
Bert Jansch releases his third album, Jack Orion, which includes the traditional song Blackwaterside in drop D tuning. This was later appropriated by Jimmy Page as Black Mountain Side on Led Zep’s 1969 debut.
Neil Young goes on his first solo acoustic tour in the US, and Cat Stevens releases Father And Son, inadvertently enabling Boyzone to destroy it 25 years later.
Tuning experimentalist and exceptional fingerstyle player Nick Drake releases his final album before his death, Pink Moon, to minimal attention. It’s now seen as one of the finest British acoustic albums.
John Martyn releases the classic album, Solid Air. The title track is a tribute to Drake.
James Blunt is born James Hillier Blount in Tidworth, Wiltshire. Moving swiftly on…
Poodle-haired rockers Poison release their own cowboy-chorded acoustic power ballad, Every Rose Has Its Thorn, after seeing how well Bon Jovi’s Dead Or Alive did. It’s rubbish, but we still find ourselves singing along when drunk, even now.
Nirvana film their MTV Unplugged session - a generation put down their electrics and pick up a dreadnought for five minutes.
The Man In Black is back; under Rick Rubin’s guidance, Johnny Cash finds his career rejuvenated with the first in a series of American Recordings that centre on Cash’s voice and a stripped-down, intimate acoustic sound.
David Gray’s fourth album, White Ladder is re-released, eventually selling seven million copies worldwide. It opens the door for the good, the bad and the bedwetters.
After gaining exposure within the surfing community, laid-back Hawaiian strummer Jack Johnson begins to make his crossover into the mainstream with debut album Brushfire Fairytales.
Damien Rice releases his debut O,containing the classic heart-on- sleeve ballads Cannonball and The Blower’s Daughter.
Ed Sheeran and his Little Martin get a No1 album with +. Combine that with Mumford & Sons going global, and the acoustic guitar is truly back in the mainstream.
Self-taught Devonshire songwriter Ben Howard sells out three consecutive nights at London’s Brixton Academy. Shortly after he goes on to win two Brit Awards.
Justin Bieber releases Believe Acoustic, including unplugged versions of songs from his third album, and ‘neo-soul’ ballad I Would. We wouldn’t.