Guitar George was my teacher (and he knew all the chords)

So, this is a video by YouTuber Jago Hazzard exploring the origins of the song ‘The Sultans Of Swing’ by Dire Straits:

‘Apparently The Sultans of Swing was based on a true story. So I did a bit of detective work.’

And the top comment is mine.

Here’s what I wrote:

Well, here’s a story I’ve been waiting 30 years to tell. I learnt the song Sultans of Swing from my French teacher, name of George Walker, who told me that he was the subject of that song. He said he met Knopfler when he came into the pub, and he and the band had a nice chat afterwards. He would have been in his 40s in the late 80s (I’m guessing), and his jazz band played occasionally at our school (in West Sussex). Yes, he was a rhythm player, and yes he knew all the chords. I think he played a sunburst Gibson 335. I don’t think he was professional or ever released a record. He was a very down-to-earth bloke, and he didn’t seem to be bragging when he said this story – he just mentioned it as an interesting anecdote to a keen young guitar player (i.e. me!) The teachers seemed to know this story and no one seemed to doubt it. Of course, he might have been mistaken, it might not have been Knopfler, or I might have remembered it wrong. But I’ve been boring the socks off people for decades now with that bit of trivia.

Which led to this conversation:

Which pub and was his band called The Sultans of Swing? If he’s still alive he must be about 90?

I don’t remember him ever mentioning the pub name or the band name – certainly the band I saw him play in had a different name (probably different members, as he was presumably living in Sussex – maybe Brighton? – not London). I think he might have been a smoker, so I don’t know whether he would still be alive now. I hope so — he was a lovely guy!

This is such an important story! Thank you so much for sharing it. There must be ways of checking it out….

I did a bit of Googling to see if I could track him down, but no joy sadly. I’m a little wary of sharing too much personal information online, but if anyone wants to DM me on Twitter (@jamesbellcentrl) I’d be happy to give out the name and address of the school – they should have a record of him. He should also be in a school photo on the wall somewhere.

The conversation goes on with a lot more comments, but that’s the gist of it.

But a late addition a few days ago is that a chap called Carl (@materialstwit) got in touch with me, and gave me a link to this article:

It’s an interview with him – with George Walker. It doesn’t mention the Dire Straits song, but it does give a lot of detail about his life.

So… that’s the mystery of Guitar George, solved for you!

Can’t help you with Harry though.

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