Graham Forbes

Graham Forbes @ Glasgow University

Graham Forbes @ Glasgow University


Style: Rock n’ Roll Blues


Graham Forbes is from Glasgow and has written 3 books, Rock And Roll Mountains (which was shortlisted for an award at Banff mountain book festival in Canada), Rock And Roll Tourist and Rock And Roll Busker. He has played with the Incredible String Band, Mike Heron, Woody Woodmansey, Marsha Hunt, Nicky Hopkins and others. For the past 12 years he has been living part time in America.

When I was a boy I used to sneak into the Candlelite Club and stand at the front of the stage watching the Poets play Little by Little, Route 66 and other blues tunes and all I wanted was to play like them. Learning to play in Glasgow was a tough apprenticeship. When I was a lad, playing in a wee band at the Howff, our singer didn’t turn up so I tried singing a slow blues. First line I could think of was the usual “Woke up this morning…” Some guy at the front looked up from his pint of heavy and sneered “ye whit?”

I played pro when I was young and toured a lot then drifted out of it when I was about 30. I used to do a lot of rock climbing which messed up my hands – they ended up like paws – and I only played bass for about 25 years, didn’t touch a guitar in all that time. I’ve played in a band with John Beattie for many years and he persuaded me to play guitar again for which I will always be grateful.

I’ve played in many blues jams in America but I’m always nervous in Glasgow. If you play really well someone might grunt, “aye, no bad.’ But if you play badly…

In recent years I’ve been playing “Keith” in Stones trib bands. Some people think that’s a cover band but I don’t agree. It’s a style of playing. It’s no more a cover band than a blues band is a Muddy Waters cover band. I “dep” with a few Stones bands in England and America, often playing to huge fest crowds without any rehearsal. I never get nervous no matter how many thousands of people are out front. But any time I’ve played in a blues jam in Glasgow I shit myself. You look at maybe 10 people in the crowd staring at you and feel you have to prove yourself. Eh, hello, Glasgow. Gulp. I think if you can confidently play the State Bar jam, you can play anywhere in the world. The standard is incredibly high. Jim, Kenny, Tim and Al often encourage me to go down, and I will. One day. Soon. Honest.

Influences: Stones, Clapton etc Saw Mick Taylor when he was very young with John Mayall. Fantastic. And Zep at Shepton Mallet in 1970. I will never forget the way Jimmy Page’s notes seem to hang over the crowd as the sun was setting.  It was like magic.

Also guys like Bert Jansch and Stefan Grossman.

Date: 05/07/2015


Glasgow University


Camera info

Camera: Nikon D750
Lens: Nikon 24 – 120 f/4
Focal length: f/4
Exposure: 1/60 sec
Time of day: 1.00pm
Conditions: Interior, low ambient light
Lighting: Softbox keylight, rimlight

  1. Fiona Green says:

    I’ve had the pleasure of singing in Tricky Fingers (Glasgow Stones band) with Graham and was so impressed at how meticulous Graham is about capturing that Keith Richards sound…no easy feat, but Graham makes it look & sound so easy. The result? A truly authentic sound played by the huge talent that is Graham Forbes. He is so modest about it too!. 🙂 Fiona


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