Performer Scene: Kim Humphreys

How did you get into playing the guitar?

I grew up hearing The Shadows, The Ventures, Duane Eddy and a lot of  Aussie surf groups on the radio. Instrumentals caught my attention far more than vocal records. However it was on hearing The Yardbirds that studying the guitar became an obsession.  Jeff Beck’s quirky guitar lines inspired me to want to express myself in that same way.

What was your first good guitar and how did you get it? (Do you still have it?)

A 1968 Les Paul ‘Black Beauty’ Custom. I bought it new for $1000.00 from Harry Landis music store which was in Park St. Sydney, the inspiration for the purchase being the photo of Eric Clapton holding a Les Paul in a photo on the back of The Bluesbreakers album. Back then, I was not aware that EC played a ’59 on that record .and didn’t realise Les Pauls came in a number of varieties!.

The drawback with The Black Beauty was that it was a ‘fretless wonder’, which made it impossible to bend strings and apply vibrato. I had the guitar initially re fretted by The De Kroo Brothers and have subsequently had it re fretted twice more, due to wear..

I played and recorded  that guitar non- stop for over twenty years, during my time with Hot Cottage, Ted Mulry, Stumble, Great Dane Jeff St John and Dutch Tilders. The neck has been broken twice but  I think that is a ‘badge of honour’ for any Gibson that has seen that much service.

During the 80’s I switched pickups on it a number of times, trying Mighty Mights,, De Marzio and EMG’s plus had the finish changed to Silverburst. None of these changes lived up to expectations and I put  the guitar away in the early 90’s and switched to an Ibanez Roadstar II.

A couple of years ago I had the Gibson restored, including bringing it back to its original colour. The one exception was fitting black chrome hardware. I am now back playing the guitar on a regular basis.  It looks and sounds like a grand piano!

What were your early musical influences?

When I got to high school, I became aware of Vince Maloney who would practice guitar at lunch times in the music room, playing Shadows and Surf tunes.

These sessions became something I really looked forward to checking out., 12 months later he was gone, climbing the ladder to success with The Aztecs and later The Bee Gees.

Trying to work out  the solos on early Billy Thorpe & The Aztecs records was where it all started for me.

Years later, Vince and I  became very good friends. and I got to play a few tunes with the original Aztecs l line up in 2007.

Favourite piece of gear?

My Boss GT1000, which I have been using for over a year! I have been championing amp modelling since the late 80’s, kicking off with the original Tech 21 Sans Amp,  then the Rolland GP 8, 16 and 100, everything that Line 6 has produced, Fractal Audio Axe Fx.. Somewhere in amongst that lot, I took a huge backwards step with a Vox Tonelab! . The GT1000, to my ears at least, is the first modeller that has completely nailed it., most notably with the headroom on clean settings!

For playing Shadows style material I couldn’t do without my Hall & Collins Signature Echo..

What gear that you still use today has been with you the longest?

My string cutters, which I have had since day one!

What are your top 3 guitar albums (or songs)?

The same as thousands of other Blues Rock  influenced players . . . .

The Bluesbreakers (with Eric Clapton)

The Yardbirds  (self titled)

Truth – The Jeff Beck Group

If I may be permitted to add a fourth  ….

The Bluesbreakers HARD ROAD featuring Peter Green which then turned me on to checking out BB King..

What’s your latest release/recording?

Just prior to Covid hitting I completed an album dedicated to Geoff Jermy’s memory. Jeff was a close friend,, an absolute encyclopaedia when it came to classic instrumental recordings, plus a huge Duane Eddy fan

Titled DUANE’S WORLD, I recorded a collection of tunes in the Duane Eddy style. I was going to launch the album at Shadoz 2020 but I will now have to wait and see how to move forward with this project.

Also, with the Covid restrictions I am spending an enormous amount of time writing and recording. I now have so much material ‘in the can’ I have no idea what to do with it all !

Under the banner, Brit Blues Bible, I have begun uploading and emailing  out  my  tributes to  some of the great guitar players of the mid 60’s  British Blues era, Peter Green heading  the list!  

I haven’t forgotten my Shadows and Oz surf instrumental leanings and have a follow up to 2016’s MEAZZI MYSTERIES  also ready to go. No title as yet..  

Any upcoming live/streaming gigs?

My only regular gig at the present is session work. I am very fortunate, given the current climate, to still have some trickling in..I am also  working an animated video for one of my new tunes.

What’s YOUR scene?

My Scene is finally being completely comfortable with my own guitar playing.

About Kim Humphreys

In the late 90’s, Kim Humphreys surrendered a highly lucrative career in the field of animation to devote his time fully to music. Already a semi pro guitarist of many years standing, he was part of several successful pop recording groups, a member of biker boogie band (which he juggled with a tuxedo wearing corporate group gig) and a guitarist for Stevie Wright (Easybeats), John Farnham, Ted Mulry, Jeff St John and Dutch Tilders.

His former vocation had seen him the shared recipient of an Academy and Emmy award, a festival winner for his own animated short films, a contributor to film clips for Little River Band and Midnight Oil, time spent as a camera and special effects director at numerous studios including Amblin (Steven Spielberg) and Hanna Barbera, a lecturer at the Sydney Film & Television School, the designer of a 3D animation camera rig and at the forefront of creating motion control software in the early 80’s, the latter two technologies both employed extensively by Hanna Barbera and Disney.

He has released a number of instrumental albums, including the now globally collectable BRAVE NEW WAVE, a homage to 60’s Aussie garage surf instrumental music. This album’s award winning cover art is now immortalised on Kim’s signature model guitar as seen in the GUITAR PENITENTIARY music video.

His 2006 EP, MERCEDES, gained national ABC radio airplay and his animated clip for AMISTAD from the 2 GOOD 4 WORDS album received national television exposure and numerous You Tube downloads.

In 2006 he was also presented with the Shadoz instigated Stewy Award for his services to guitar instrumental music.

Nonetheless, by 2007 he decided to take an extended break to recharge the batteries and rethink his musical strategies.

Late 2011 saw drummer Gordon Heazlewood joining Kim and Chris and by mid 2012 the result was the release of GUITAR PENTITENTIARY.

About Martin Cilia 61 Articles
Martin is an Australian guitarist and vintage guitar collector. Apart from his solo work he is a member of The Atlantics, Dave Warner’s From the Suburbs and is currently guitarist in Mental As Anything.

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