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Most people agree that Van Shipley was the first electric guitarist in India and the first to record instrumental versions of film songs beginning sometime in the early 1950s. The name Van Shipley is Methodist, he is from Lucknow UP. He designed his own electric eight string steel guitar in the 1940’s. The reason he did this was that he’d studied Indian classical music under Ustad Alaudin Khan, the leading classical musician in India, who was also a contemporary of Ravi Shankar. He also studied the violin with a German teacher. This Western style influence is what compelled Van Shipley to design his own electric violin as well. He owned a Gibson E5, given to him as a gift over 50yrs ago. That’s why he wanted to play Indian classical music on guitar. He wanted to hear a particular the drone, so he made an eight string guitar, instead of a five string. His guitar was a solid guitar, designed to his style at the time, it was futuristic. He listened to all types of music and played Indian classic on Western instruments.

Van Shipley was based in Bombay with his wife and family but sadly, he passed away at the age of 78 on the morning of the 8th of March 2008 in his home. His daughter Ingrid is an artist and musician who lives in New York, and his nephew Valentine is a singer/songwriter in India.


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