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And ‘the RJ’ goes to CALEB QUAYE  for “Top Guitarist for All Time”

The concert reached a superstar level with a rare appearance by Caleb Quaye who, from 1969–1976, played lead guitar on seven Elton John albums—EMPTY SKY, ELTON JOHN, TUMBLEWEED CONNECTION, FRIENDS, MADMAN ACROSS THE WATER, ROCK OF THE WESTIES, and BLUE MOVES.

 Bennett Zimmerman, ‘Chief Justice’/Producer declared, 

“We hold these truths to be self-evident that

CALEB QYAYE is the ‘Top Guitarist for All Time’

and will always be known as

Elton John’s original ‘ROCK-IT’ Man!”

Val Tucker
CQ's Manager
My Friend


In 1965, Caleb Quaye quickly became an in-demand player, producer, and engineer in the rock-’n-roll scene in London.


In 1966, his guitar could be heard on The Troggs’ “Wild Thing,” and in 1967, Beatles publisher Dick James made sure to give Quaye the first pressing of Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band—with his perfect relative pitch, Quaye was the only one trusted to transcribe the unique music that became part of the copyright filing for the album. Quaye also worked on the Help! soundtrack.


Quaye’s friendship with Reg Dwight (Elton John) began while working on Denmark Street, the heart of the music publishing district in London. From 1967–1968, upon invitation by Dwight, Quaye joined Long John Baldrey’s Bluesology, a popular backing band most often hired by American R & B stars travelling to the UK and Europe. Quaye credits Dwight’s ability to play mirror-like images of any American rock or R&B record instantly as the group’s irresistible appeal.


Quaye’s first solo soon followed with the ultra-hip, “BABY YOUR PHRASING IS BAD.”


In 1968 and 1969, Quaye ran the night shift at Dick James’ studio and spent unbilled time making demos for Dwight, then a staff songwriter—developing songs that became the basis for his career as Elton John.


Quaye played the heavy guitar riffs and acid guitar solos on John’s 1969 “EMPTY SKY.” Quaye made quite an impact in America as lead guitarist on 1971’s Tumbleweed Connection, deemed “one of the best country rock albums ever written by London cowboys” by Rolling Stone reviewer David Fricke. Its impact on American music was immediate, the irony being that the album was composed with music by Elton John and lyrics by Bernie Taupin and musically performed by key players, including lead-guitarist Quaye—none of whom had ever set foot in America.


Lynyrd Skynyrd guitarist Ed King attributes the solos on Sweet Home Alabama to licks heard from Quaye’s guitar on Tumbleweed Connection’s “BALLAD OF A WELL-KNOWN GUN.”


In 1975, Elton John asked Quaye to return to the studio for Rock of the Westies, which entered the charts at #1. Quaye also wrote/co-wrote four songs for John’s 1976 double album and symphonic masterpiece Blue Moves.


In 1975, when John’s concerts hit stadium level, Quaye joined the touring band, bringing his rock edge to the West of the Rockies tour, including two famous shows at Dodger Stadium that October. Quaye stayed with the band in 1976 for the Louder than Concorde (but not quite as pretty) stadium tour.


Quaye has worked with Paul McCartney, Mick Jagger, and countless other British and American artists, including Harry Nilsson (“COCONUT”) and in the studio and on tour with Hall & Oates (“IT’S A LAUGH”).


Quaye’s award coincides with a renaissance marked by the release of the documentary “Louder Than Rock,” directed by nine-time-Emmy-award-winner Val Tucker. The film is based on Quaye’s autobiography, rich in reminiscence—a story of “sex, drugs, rock and roll, and redemption.” The film already won an award last week at the Silicon Beach Festival in L.A. as it continues its festival-level breakout.


Caleb Quaye’s latest is “SPEECHLESS,” the powerful closing theme of the documentary, featuring Judith Hill on vocals.


Quaye plays guitar weekly at his congregation, NewLife Pomona.

-- Bennett Zimmerman, Member TEAM CALEB since 1977

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