Like many other musicians in Salisbury, I was saddened to hear about the passing on July 8 of guitarist Pete Catlin at the age of 73.

Pete was born and bred in Salisbury and attended St. Marks and Bishop Wordsworth Schools. In 2007 I had the pleasure of interviewing him for our book about the history of the Salisbury music scene and I must admit that prior to the interview I felt quite nervous because he was such a musical legend.

Our conversation soon revealed that even before Pete had a guitar of his own, he loved the sound of the instrument. It was not long though before his parents bought him his first guitar, a Martin Colletti from Suttons. A Watkins Rapier guitar followed a while later, Pete said “It looked a bit like a Fender Stratocaster – bright red.”

It wasn’t long before he discovered a passion for the blues. Live music quickly followed and he was soon playing blues guitar with the likes of Ken Lailey at the Walking Dog Club in Quidhampton. “I had a baptism of fire into that whole thing” he said, “I was quite young and they used to call me ‘Baby Clapton’ because I had learned all these solos and I had just turned sixteen.” 

Pete Catlin went on to become a well-known guitarist in the Salisbury area and beyond. Another Salisbury-bred guitarist, Martin Fieber, said Pete was very much the lynchpin of the local blues scene and probably the finest blues guitarist that I ever shared a stage with. He taught me so much and set me on a path from which I’ve never wavered.

For 22 years Peter encouraged musicians both young and old to play together at the 12-bar Jam Sessions latterly at Salisbury Rugby Club introducing a new generation to blues music.

Pete also taught guitar and I remember one of his students telling me how he was a true master of the guitar – “he knew every conceivable guitar chord and how to describe it.”

The funeral service took place in the presence of his family, many friends and numerous musicians who had played with or learnt their skills from him.

Our condolences go to his wife Briony, daughters Gayle and Laura, son Todd and sister Wendy.