Who is Paul Allen?
In case you don’t know, he’s the man who co-founded Microsoft with Bill Gates in 1975. Not just that but he’s also a business magnate, investor, inventor, humanitarian and philanthropist. And, he was estimated to be the 44th-wealthiest person in the world according to Forbes.
But why should that be of interest to the guitar community? Read on.
Playing Guitar & Hobnobbing With Rock Stars
It just so happens that Allen is also a capable guitar player, even if he doesn’t get around to playing all the time. If you don’t believe us, you can go and see for yourself – there is YouTube footage of Allen playing “Rocky Mountain Way” alongside The Eagles’ Joe Walsh and The Beatle’s Ringo Starr.
Allen has even jammed with the likes of Carlos Santana, Dave Grohl, Bono, The Edge, Mick Jagger and many others. That has had its perks, with Allen often ending up with a new guitar gifted by fellow jammers. His guitar collection would certainly be the envy of most guitarists.
If that didn’t solidify his status as rocker, his blues-rock album with Paul Allen and the Underthinkers, Everywhere At Once, certainly did. The song, “Divine” also appeared on the soundtrack for the film Magic Mike.
Overall, the album received good reviews, many highlighting Allen’s guitar work as the best aspect of it.
Allen said his interest in guitar and computer programming grew in high school. Though he focused more on programming, he never gave up on the guitar.
Although he started playing violin as a youngster, he was captivated by the rock of the mid 60s, especially The Jimi Hendrix Experience. Not surprisingly, his love of Stratocasters stemmed from that.
After graduating and getting a perfect SAT score of 1600, Allen went to Washington State University. But after two years, he dropped out and became a programmer for Honeywell in Boston. This allowed him to be in proximity of Bill Gates, who had gone to Harvard University. Allen then persuaded Bill Gates to drop out of university to create Microsoft, and the rest, as they say, is history.
If there’s anything we can conclude from Allen’s story, it’s that music is a universal language. Allen isn’t the only “celebrity rocker”, as it were. Johnny Depp and Keanu Reeves often get referenced in the discussion, but did you know that Russell Crowe, Jared Leto, Ed Westwick and Joaquin Phoenix are also closet “rock stars”?
All that’s needed is a passion for music. And, even if it’s not your primary profession, it doesn’t mean it can’t be a part of who you are. You can play in your spare time, enjoy music for the sake of enjoying music, and maybe even bring it into the public eye when the timing is right.
Sadly, Allen passed away of cancer on October 15, 2018. He was instrumental in bringing Microsoft to prominence in the first seven years of existence and in helping Seattle (his birthplace) become a cultural destination. He will be remembered for his incredible accomplishments as a multi-faceted multi-billionaire – philanthropist and humanitarian, investor, inventor – and perhaps – as a lover of guitar.
Last Updated on November 9, 2021.
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