Spit James / Ian Cruickshank (guitar)

Awesome guitarist; I fell in love with his playing in Keef Hartley Band's first album, but at the same time, it was a difficult task trying to know more about him, as he seemed to have disappeared from music scene after leaving that band. But I was wrong, fortunately. Let's see what's the story.

I don't have any biographical data about him, and I don't know of any bands where he played prior to joining Keef.

Keef Hartley Band is one of the finest blues bands I've ever heard, believe me! Commanded by Keef, he surrounded himself with young although superb players:

They started recording their first album, but they felt something didn't work. So they changed the vocalist. But they finally called Miller Anderson to join as vocalist and guitarist, in November 1968. They release the fantastic album, Halfbreed, recorded in three days, with a funny introduction where you can hear John Mayall's conversation with Keef, when he tells him he's out of Bluesbreakers band. The track is appropiately named "Sacked". :)

Notice has to be made about all the guitar parts in the album were recorded by Spit. Miller just included the vocals, no guitars.

In the album, Halfbreed, there's a horn section to enrich their sound (mainly Hartley former bandmates in John Mayall band):

Once Spit James leaves the band, Miller Anderson takes the guitar role completely.

After that, the name Spit James never appeared in any other album, except for a couple of sessions made while he still was in the band (see below for the credits). What happened?

In 1978, Ian started studying the music of jazz guitar genius Django Reinhardt, who has proved to be Ian's biggest influence in his playing. Then he formed a band called Swing Guitars.

Ian is the founder and leader of Ian Cruickshank's Gypsy Jazz band, formed 15 years ago. The combo doesn't have a stable lineup, appearing as a trio, quartet or even sextet. This is one of the lineups I know: Apart from playing, Ian is author of several books and instructional music videos. He also was co-producer and music coordinator for the Channel 4 TV documentary film ‘Django Legacy’ and runs a jazz record company, Fret Records.

Ian has many forthcoming projects, including a new album and his autobiography. So, why not checking his own website for details? (see the link below).


Albums with Keef Hartley Band:



Solo albums:

Albums with Ian Cruickshank's Gypsy Jazz: Collective live albums with Ian Cruickshank's Gypsy Jazz appearing: Music books written: Music videos: Sessions:
Related links: From the always interesting Alex's Picks (by Alex Gitlin), we have: From the superb site Knights in Blue Denim: The British Blues Scene '68 - '70 (by Christer Fridhammar & Vanja), we have:

Thanks section

Thanks to: Rob Wilson & Karl Stone for asking about Spit in my old guestbook. Now you have the answer. :)

If you can contribute (with additions, corrections, opinions, etc.), please, send me an e-mail message at mterol@myrealbox.com

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Page created by Miguel Terol on: 04/April/2001. First published on: xx/xx/xx. Last modified on: 04/April/2001.
(This page is part of The Musicians' Olympus)