I’m Shaun Murray, a fingerstyle and classical guitarist from Medway, Kent in the United Kingdom. A little about my background: I played guitar for the first time in 1971 when I started secondary school, persuading my parents to pay for lessons which they were able to afford for about a year. Despite my progress and enjoyment the lessons sadly had to stop, to the disappointment of not only myself but my tutor, Mr. Jim Stringer.
Recognising some potential, he allowed me to see him outside of school hours for free, so I continued to develop. My chosen listening back then – and I guess my influences – were the melodic acoustic players of the era: James Taylor, Paul Simon, Ralph McTell, Jim Croce, Don McLean and others. Classical guitarist John Williams was receiving plenty of airtime then too, and I became a fan.
In the 1970s ear training and aural perception formed a significant part of classroom music lessons; we were taught to recognise intervals, cadences and the relationships between chords – that aspect of my musical education would turn out to serve me very well indeed. About this this time my development continued not by receiving lessons but by doing what we all did back then: listening to records and the radio, working songs out by ear and copying the styles of our heroes.
I continued thus throughout my school years but found myself without inspiration as those acoustic players began to feature less and less on the radio, being replaced by Glam Rock, Pop and then Punk. I heard little on the radio that I wanted to copy. By the age of 16 I’d pretty much stopped playing.
Fast forward twenty years to 1996 and by chance, in the same week, I heard a couple of guitarists who inspired me hugely: Martin Taylor and Richard Smith. Jazz station JFM was playing many of Taylor’s fingerstyle arrangements and Richard Smith happened to be playing live in Kent, which somebody suggested I’d enjoy. Fortuitously, I also got introduced to a couple of local players who remain close friends to this day. All this happened in the space of a week and I became a guitarist again.
I’d recently been made redundant from my job in the financial services industry so took the opportunity to study music formally: Harmony, Analysis, Counterpoint, Performance, all of that. I studied for four years, becoming a guitar tutor in local schools in the process. Perhaps inevitably I started playing in bands – performing live for the first time at age 36.
I played in a few local covers bands. Folk outfits too, mainly the Sally Ironmonger Trio. As well as enjoying the acoustic guitar genre I’d always been a lover of Country Music, and was pleased to accept an invitation to join Shameless, a Country Rock band from east Kent. After that band’s demise in 2001 I became a member of the Ray Peters Band where I remained until 2015. I then played with the Hayley Oliver Band until 2017.
My music studies in the ‘90s enabled me to put my playing technique and well-trained ear to good use. I began to arrange popular songs for Classical guitar. There wasn’t much in the way of sheet music for the Classically-trained player when I was learning. There was the Classical repertoire of course and books of Jazz standards. You’d find a Beatles collection in the book stores maybe, but rarely arrangements of pop songs.
So I arranged a few myself and when YouTube appeared I took the opportunity of uploading some videos of my arrangements, which were well received. Over ten years later I’m still doing that with about 130 videos to date. My videos have been seen over 3.5 million times and I’m fortunate to have over 11,000 subscribers.
As a solo guitarist, I have recorded six studio albums. Four of those albums, 'The Entertainer' (2001),
'Nails and Nylon' (2006), 'Capricho' (2007) and 'Never Alone' (2015) are out of print now. The album 'Theatreland' (2016) features songs from musical shows. My most recent album is a collaboration with singer Hannah van Noort called 'Meant to Be'. Copies of these two albums will be available on this website in the near future. I do several solo concerts near my home in Kent. Check out the LIVE page for upcoming events.
I still perform too: I currently play with the Tennessee All Stars Band, Europe's leading Country Tribute Show. I play solo at around 20 weddings a year as well as giving concerts – both solo and duo – in my home county of Kent. I hugely enjoy playing jigs and reels with ace Fiddler Phil Bennett in Barn Dance band Easy Street and gigs with female vocalist Hannah van Noort under the name Young and Wise. I love performing (despite my poker face) and without doubt I always will.
I hope to be doing it for many years to come.