Davey Johnstone

Tributes to Gus from friends and colleagues

Davey Johnstone

Guitarist and vocalist

Gus definitely was the biggest influence on what I do now and what I’ve been doing for the last 40 years, because he was one of those guys who was willing to listen. He was a musician, in a sense. Although he didn’t play anything, he totally understood the way an acoustic guitar, or an electric guitar, should sound in any given circumstance. I listen to those records now and I am very proud of them, because they still sound as brilliant as when we did them. And that’s because Gus had a vision…and he let us run with our own ideas.

Gus, right in the beginning was like, “I can’t wait to hear you do this thing with Reg…” It was always “Reg” in the beginning. “…because he writes some great songs.” That’s all: “He writes some great songs.” That’s what he said about him. And I’m like, “Okay great. I look forward to it.” Who knew?

A lot of producers, when they have great success (and I’ve seen it happen time and time again), they think that they’re the reason it happened. And therefore they think, “No, no, no…you have to do it this way.” Gus never, ever did that. Never.

I miss his passion, mainly. I think Gus’s passion is unrivaled to this day. There is nobody around who was so turned on by you strumming one chord on a guitar when the mic is just placed correctly. His passion was unbelievable.

I also miss his company and sense of humor. Some of my best memories are the stuff that we did outside the studio. We always had such a laugh. I mean some of my fondest memories of Gus are going to the Pizza Express. It was in Saint Ann’s Court just around the corner from Trident studio. I remember he turned me on to an “American Hot.” That was what we used to order: an “American Hot” and a coke. He’d say, “What do you mean? You’ve never had an American Hot?” He’d be horrified and I said, “Well I’ve never even had a pizza. You’re running around with a young kid from Scotland.” I didn’t know from pizza!

And one of the most amazing things about Gus: he would be able to say to Elton without any hesitation, “That bridge is a little bit weak.” Or, “That part there, it could go somewhere else.” And that’s where we’d all come in and help write a different bridge or a different part of the verse or take a verse out or take a chorus out.

It is called “production.” And Gus Dudgeon was a great producer.

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