About Alec Williams
Alec Williams is an avant-garde rock guitarist who created experimental music. He began playing experimental guitar at the age of fifteen. By the age of seventeen he was getting recognition from local professional rock guitarists as a rock guitar improviser of accomplished technique with an unmistakable touch, a highly individual tone and an inventive use of feedback and distortion. When he performed live, he played only with his trio, “This is Heat,” an innovative, experimental and completely free-form group that enjoyed playing improvisational jazz and neoclassical metal guitar with mercurial solos.
Alec played nothing but his own original unique music compositions, encompassing a wide range of musical styles and genres, sometimes characterized as progressive guitar, melodic shred guitar and far out guitar. When a serious illness cut short his active music career, he had already recorded a large number of multi-track masters working alone in his home studio. Producers have selected some of the best of these melodic rhythm guitar compositions and are now offering them as free MP3 downloads on this site.
Alec's crafty guitarist and art rock style has been eloquently described as:
- As far out as Jimi Hendrix
- As melodic as Eric Clapton
- As skilled as Robert Fripp and Allan Holdsworth
- Yet totally individual
Alec Williams was born in 1969. No one in his family was at all musical and Alec seemed unimpressed by the classical music that surrounded him, unless it was something from Bach or the Baroque period. He developed an abiding hatred of strings and romantic music. There was a family tradition of creativity — woodworking, art, writing — and in his teens Alec's inheritance of this creativity began to show itself in experimental music and experimental guitar.
When he was in Junior High school, his music teacher played an hour of Gershwin, Ives, Schoenberg, Copeland, and generally modern composers and Alec was enthralled. This he understood and liked. Shortly thereafter he asked to have guitar lessons and he began going to a nearby music store where they were offered. He was fortunate in the selection of his teacher who was an accomplished guitarist with a great deal of patience and sensitivity. His teacher quickly perceived that repetition was something that Alec disliked; consequently the lessons were varied. For example, a scale would be repeated no more than three times and then they would move on to rhythm and chording. This was very productive for Alec.
During the first year of his study, the shop owner and all the guitar teachers were convinced that Alec would never become a rock guitarist. It seemed to everybody that he was just an abysmal failure. At this point he thought so himself — or began to. His mother however expressed confidence in his ability to play if he really wanted to. As a token of her assurance she took him to the music shop and bought him a very expensive guitar that he had been admiring for weeks. This gesture seemed to have a good effect and he continued to work.
Sometime after his first year of study and to everyone’s amazement, everything seemed to gel and he suddenly became a technically accomplished guitarist. He began to develop his own touch and tone on the strings producing a sound rather different than others. He became adept at sculpting the guitars voice. Eventually his teacher gave up on lessons at the store and simply invited Alec to his apartment on Sundays so they could jam and improvise for two hours. Occasionally guitarists who were in the store would linger if Alec were playing, and some paid him very nice compliments.
When he was about seventeen, a guitarist and entrepreneur offered him a contract to head a group and tour, but Alec was convinced that he didn’t have enough material and refused this offer. He worked for the most part at home alone, except for a period when he founded the trio “This is Heat,” to play experimental music in a style being done in NYC at that time. Each player was to be absolutely individual and play without regard to the others. The result was far out music that was very different from usual music groups and can be heard in the recordings of the trio.
After little more than a year, playing on the radio and giving one concert, Alec became convinced that the band was not continuing to play experimental music. He thought the players were drifting back into accepted patterns, each player beginning to respond to the playing of others, and Alec considered its usefulness over and he disbanded the trio.
Thereafter he worked totally alone, always at night, and always in his own studio which was quite well-equipped. When the depth of his interest in unique music and shred guitar playing became evident, his parents renamed his “Education Fund” the “Music Fund.” The interest from that account was sufficient to provide him with his choice of instruments and gear for his studio. He found this satisfying, particularly after a Synthe-axe (an English made synthesizer once used by Allan Holdsworth) was acquired and he could really create experimental music.
Whenever Alec acquired a new guitar he would simply sit down and noodle with it. He called it, “Discovering how this guitar liked to be played.” He did seem to get the best possible sound from his instruments. He could sculpt the guitar's voice. Improvisational music was the really great interest in his life, and to the end he considered himself primarily an absolutely individual improvisational musician.
He had in mind a “work for many voices,” as he called them. This was an interesting project because Alec did not notate anything he played. However many parts there were to it came out of his head and he was never known to do a retake.
Unfortunately the nervous condition he had been born with became worse as he grew older and he was no longer able to create progressive music using unique guitars. Eventually he could no longer play the guitar for lengthy intervals. He found this very difficult emotionally and finally would not play recordings from his favorite guitarists (Adrian Belew, Robert Fripp, Mark Knopfler, and people of this sort) and other musicians he admired (such as Jeff Beck) because it depressed him that he had played well himself but was no longer able to do so.
However, Alec recorded everything that he did and left behind well over 200 cassettes and a large number of reel-to-reel tapes. These have been reviewed by guitarists and other knowledgeable musicians who believe that his works deserve to be heard by a wider audience. Therefore they have gone through the accumulated material selecting recordings they think are the most interesting and have arranged for them to be put on CDs which are available through this web site. Alec's unique music is also available as free MP3 downloads.
The process of selecting material is on-going, and it is hoped that there will be several more CDs to come. As they are processed and produced they will also be available at this website.