Obituary: Brian Godding

    Coming from the progressive end of pop, Brian Godding was primed for work with such jazz luminaries as Keith Tippett and Mike Westbrook

    Brian Godding

    The varied career path of guitarist Brian Godding, who has died aged 78, took in various genres along the way including blues, rock, jazz and avant improvisation.

    Starting in earnest with the psych-pop band Blossom Toes, his star was in the ascendency. Although this band never reached the highest echelons of fame, it did gain a fair amount of popularity with albums such as We Are Ever So Clean (Marmalade, 1967), If Only For A Moment (Marmalade, 1969) and later under the rebranded Blossom Toes offshoot BB Blunder, the rather heavier Workers’ Playtime (United Artists, 1971).

    Godding first came to the attention of the jazz fraternity through his contribution to his sister-in-law Julie Driscoll’s album 1969 (Polydor, 1971) where he played alongside her future husband Keith Tippett. This led to Godding being recruited by Tippett for his mammoth big band Centipede where he played a pivotal role on the resulting album Septober Energy (RCA Neon, 1971).

    Now regarded as a “jazz-friendly” guitarist he was employed by Mike Westbrook for his jazz-rock experiment Solid Gold Cadillac and appeared on the album Brain Damage (RCA, 1973). His subsequent long association with Westbrook led to contributions on several Westbrook albums. The opening to Citadel/Room 315 (RCA, 1975) was memorably introduced by Godding’s muscular guitar and his coruscating work on Westbrook’s masterpiece The Cortège (Original Records, 1982) was essential. He was also heard on other Westbrook recordings such as Love/Dream And Variations (Transatlantic, 1976); On Duke’s Birthday (Hat ART, 1985); Pierides (Jazzprint, 1986) and London Bridge Is Broken Down (Virgin Venture, 1988).

    Whilst Godding was best known in the jazz world for his work with Westbrook’s various ensembles, he also played and recorded with other notable musicians including Kevin Coyne, Eric Burdon, Zoot Money and on the French band Magma’s fifth studio album Köhntarkösz (Vertigo, 1974). He also recorded two albums with Westbrook alumni; the jazz-rock outfit Mirage and their sole oeuvre Now You See It (Compendium, 1977) and the improv quartet Full Monte and Spark In The Dark (Slam, 2013) recorded in 1990 and 1994.

    Brian Godding: 19 August 1945 – 26 November 2023