I guess that you know you have made it, when you get an entry in Wikipedia. Ed Alleyne Johnson, who is a violin busker, and writer, now has his page though not many people outside of violin enthusiasts, know very much about him. Here is a brief profile of who he is and why I consider him to be an «important» violinist. Why important? Because any artist that is original and starts a trend, can be considered as someone different and therefore special.
Ed Alleyne-Johnson comes from Liverpool, but studied Fine Art at Oxford University where he also played bass in a college band. He made his own electric violin himself, apparently carving it out with a knife, on the kitchen table. It doesn’t end there though, as he also modified an amplifier to be run on re-chargeable batteries, and put together an effects pedal board which included a digital Loop Station. The result was that he was able to busk to a high level of professionalism wherever his fancy took him. To call Ed Alleyne-Johnson a busker though, is like calling a Stradivarius just a violin; he is of course, but is also so much more. Selling Albums as he busked on street corners was part of the «act» and Purple Electric Violin Concerto which he wrote in 1982 has sold over 800,00 copies. If you do the Maths for this, even at Ãï¿½£10.00 a copy you would think that he could stop busking and move onto a new way of showing off his skills.
The fact is that Ed Alleyne-Johnson loves to busk, and as such has played in almost every major city in Europe, North America and Canada. This is his niche in music and he has uniquely built up a veritable Army of followers.
In between busking tours Ed has released a large number of albums. These are:
Purple Electric Violin Concerto 1992
Ultraviolet 1994 (my own personal favourite)
Fly before Dawn 1995 (written with his wife)
Purple Electric Violin Concerto 2 2001
For me the reason why this artist is special, is because he has spawned a lot of copy-cat buskers who try to copy his formula for success. Because he uses a very sophisticated loop Station, it enables him to put down layer upon layer of violin «riffs» and build up a song right in front of his audience of passersby and High street shoppers. There may now be better players out there on the streets, but he was one of the first, if not the first and this marks him down as an innovator.
Apart from the above; Ed Alleyne-Johnson has toured with Tube-Way Army, and appeared on the popular TV show «Later» with Jools Holland. Let’s hope he keeps touring as to see him perform live is a great experience.