Within india’s music-loving community, the tributes started flowing in. As word spread on Sunday morning that one of India’s best-known guitar players Derek Julien had passed away in Pune, fans and friends talked of his contribution. On WhatsApp, a flyer did the rounds, quoting a Rod Stewart line, “The angels needed a guitar man for their celestial blues band and took him home.”
For 70-year-old Julien, it had been a long musical journey, beginning in 1967 and encompassing genres from rock, jazz and blues to fusion and pop. He was with the Pune group Mystiks with bassist Mike Fay, and the band played in Africa. He then moved to Mumbai to play with the progressive rock group Waterfront, and then did a stint in New Delhi with the husband-wife team of drummer Steve Siquera and vocalist Kittu.
Later, Julien played with Azure Hades with UK-based Shri (Shrikant Sriram) on bass, flute, and tabla and Goan drummer Dennis Coelho. He had long stints with vocalist Gary Lawyer and the Atul Ahuja Band and played with bassist Colin D’Cruz in the groups Jazz Junction and Smoking Chutney. In Pune, he played with the Dragonette Project led by Roger Dragonette, bassist-singer, and former Waterfront bandmate, and also comprising guitarist Sanjay Joseph and drummer Saket.
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