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Guitar Star 2016

Plectrums at the ready, the series that aims to unearth an axe-wielding superstar is back. The music legends on the judging panel reveal just what they’re looking for...

Thursday 09 June 2016 16:58

“IF Guitar Star was on TV when I was 14 I would’ve auditioned,” says legendary producer Tony Visconti, who joins fellow music luminaries George Benson and Miloš Karadaglić in the search for the UK and Republic of Ireland’s most talented guitarist when Sky Arts’ Guitar Star returns for a second series this summer.

“As a record producer I am always looking for fresh new sounds, new ideas and innovation in musicians I work with,” adds Visconti, who is best known for his hugely influential work (The Man Who Sold the World, Young Americans and Low) with David Bowie. “I am hoping Guitar Star attracts that kind of guitarist, one who will have that ‘wow’ factor.”

From hopeful to headliner

Guitar Star is open to contestants of all age groups and music genres. After a day of auditions at the Royal Festival Hall, hopefuls are whittled down to a shortlist of just eight. We then follow the competing guitarists as they are mentored over the course of six weeks with masterclasses that focus on developing their performance, creativity and technique. The winner will be crowned Guitar Star and perform at the celebrated Latitude Festival in July.

“Back in my youth, finding opportunities to grow as a guitar artist and get my music heard was a constant struggle,” says George Benson, who began as a jazz guitar prodigy in the 1950s before achieving huge commercial success in the 1980s with hits Give Me the Night, Lady Love Me (One More Time) and In Your Eyes. “Now, through Guitar Star, I will not only be able to inspire gifted young artists but also use my experience to mentor them into the guitar stars I know they can become.”

“I’m absolutely thrilled and excited to return for this year’s Guitar Star on Sky Arts,” adds Miloš Karadaglić, who is widely acknowledged to be the leading classical guitarist of his generation. “Talent surrounds us – let us all together look forward to finding ‘the one’!”

Who will be the next Hendrix?

These three will be joined by other mentors and acclaimed guitarists including Wilko Johnson (below) of Dr Feelgood fame, Lianne La Havas, singer-songwriter Jon Gomm and Black Sabbath’s mighty Tony Iommi, who appeared in the show’s previous series.

The first series culminated in a final at Latitude shortly before the winner Gary Lutton earned the experience of a lifetime by performing in front of 20,000 people at the festival. So who will be the next Jimi Hendrix or Joe Bonamassa? Tune in, turn up the volume and grab your air guitars for this particularly compelling and superior UK talent show from Sky Arts.

Three for All - Get to know Guitar Star’s new judges a little better

Tony Visconti, The Autobiography: Bowie, Bolan and the Brooklyn Boy

A riveting autobiography from the American producer, musician and singer, who has worked with the likes of David Bowie, Iggy Pop and U2. The influential artist describes how he helped shaped their music as well as providing a distinctive, first-hand insight into London life in the Sixties and Seventies. How much: £3.59 from Abe Books.

The Ultimate Collection, George Benson

This generous collection features an excellent selection of Benson’s hits, including Never Give Up on a Good Thing, Breezin’ and Give Me the Night, plus the inclusion of mixes never heard before on record. How much: £7.74 from Amazon.

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Miloš Karadaglić

The esteemed classical guitarist, accompanied by the English Chamber Orchestra, showcases his new album of Beatles songs, Blackbird, at Anvil Arts, Basingstoke (30 October), London’s Royal Albert Hall (9 November) and Nottingham’s Theatre Royal (11 November). How much: £33 (Basingstoke); £21.45-£32.45 (Royal Albert Hall); £15.50-£34.50 (Nottingham). Tickets at

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