Acclaimed slide guitarist, Bryn Haworth has spent the last 30 years releasing top quality rock, country and gospel blues music. Today the 63 year old continues to play gigs across the country and lead Christian ministry in prisons.
1. How did you get into music?
I pestered my mother and father to get me a guitar and I finally got one when I was 11. I got a classical guitar, they wouldn’t buy me an electric guitar but the deal was I had to learn it properly so they sent me to lessons which I thought would be boring but turned out to be really interesting.
I got classical guitar lessons for a year and learned to read music a little bit. I was really enthused about the instrument because I thought about it just in pop terms like the Shadows. When I learned you could get emotion out of a guitar, I realised you could do a lot more.
2. You’ve been described as a musician’s musician. Did you reach a point when you knew you’d mastered the guitar?
No and I never will. The thing is with the guitar is you never feel you’ve mastered it. Which is a great thing because there’s so much more to learn. The problem is with anything you learn, you can get competent or you can stop at that level and get by. The hard thing is to push yourself and try and find better ways of doing what you’re doing and learn a bit more.
3. Is it true you supported Led Zepplin?
Yes, we were out in an American band called Wolfgang and our manager was Bill Graham who used to manage two big venues in California and San Francisco, one called Fillmore West and the other Fillmore East in New York.
He was our manager so we rehearsed in these venues and got the opportunity to be put on all these great bills so we were supporting Led Zepplin, Jefferson Airplane, Moody Blues, everybody good. We were a good band. I’ve got recordings of our band and we were hot.
I didn’t become a Christian until I was about 26. The normal behavior then was basically making as good music as you could as loud as you could then partying as good as you could, so they weren’t any different to us. They had nicer clothes, velvet trousers and things like that!
4. What led up to you becoming a Christian?
We had been looking for about three years and asking questions, trying to adjust our lifestyle and make ourselves good by stopping doing drugs, stopping eating meat and all the things we thought God would like but it didn’t seem to make a difference.
I thought maybe God wouldn’t like people who killed animals, but then it gets ridiculous because we became vegetarians, and we thought 'no that’s not pure enough we’ll become fruitarians', then we’ll just take water, then you just die! If you want to be pure you can’t be pure enough. We read books about fasting and giving your money away so we did that too. We got very thin and very poor very quickly but we still didn’t know God.
My wife and I walked into a tent meeting in Hellingly. There was a travelling evangelist called Dick Saunders. He was speaking, we stumbled into this tent. We thought it was a circus and it turned out to be a meeting, We stayed and sat at the back and heard about Jesus for the first time in our lives. We responded that night.
5. Was there a tension in being signed to a major label [Island Records] and also being a Christian?
Yes there was but back then there was a lot more openness to Christianity generally in society and to faith. Back then Cat Stevens became Yousef Islam, he became a Muslim. There were lots of different things going on and it was quite acceptable to have faith and talk about faith. Musicians sometimes didn’t like you because of their preconceived ideas about what Christianity would be like.
6. Tell us about your prison ministry
We go into prisons and take chaplaincy hours. Sometimes I teach music. Sometimes I’ll play a bunch of songs and get them interested in looking into Christianity.
It started in 1992 when we were on staff at a church in London and the pastor gave me the job of starting a prison ministry. I didn’t know what to do so I just called up all the prisons and asked if we could come in and they all said no except for one. God had been working on me for three years before then from Matthew 25 'I was in prison and you visited me'. Every time I read that my heart would leap.
7. What have you been listening to recently?
I like the Loft Sessions from Bethel. I like that album a lot. I’ve been listening to Bonnie Rae’s new album, that’s good. Blood on the Tracks, Bob Dylan’s album. I love jigsaws so it’s a great time to put music on. My wife and I get a 1000 piece jigsaw, stick it on the table and listen to music for hours. You just go with what you feel like listening to.
8. What up and coming singers do you rate?
There’s a lot of very skilled female singers. For me I’m always looking for something quirky though because it’s all become very stylized now and you don’t get a lot of variety. I like lady Gaga I think she’s great.
9. What’s the best Christian book you’ve read?
Bill Johnson's When Heaven Invades Earth. I love that book, it’s really good practical Christianity and very challenging.
10. What has God been teaching you recently?
I think just to love the new things that he’s doing. And when you’re an older generation you see the new generation being blessed and coming up, you can get quite miffed. So just to bless what God is doing. And to go after God, and to seek more of his spirit and presence so I stay fresh in my spirit.
May 18th, 2012 - Posted & Written by Sam Hailes