Wilfrid Buttigieg

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Wilfrid Buttigieg

Wilfrid Buttigieg was born on the 27 July 1945. in Valletta. He was a musician and government school teacher by profession.

We back in 1953 when Wilfrid was about 8 years old, he took up a guitar, contrary to his late father’s wish, who urged him to take up the piano.

Wilfrid studied Music Theory and Musicianship under the instruction of his father, the late Capt. Joseph Simon Buttigieg,*

The unique Hank Marvin sound played by The Shadows in the late 50s and early 60s had a very strong impact, and drove him to start playing electric guitar.

At the age of 16, in 1961, he joined the The Hot Shots group, playing Lead Guitar. The band consisted of Arthur Desira on Rhythm Guitar, the late Twanny Desira on Bass Guitar, Lino Desira on Drums, and Wilfrid on Guitar. They played mostly hits by The Shadows, The Ventures, The Spotniks, The Shantays etc.

He was appointed teacher at Gżira Primary School from 1963 till 1970. During the following years, he occupied teaching posts in l-Imqabba, and il-Marsa.

In 1979 he was appointed Classical and Modern Guitar teacher at the Johann Strauss School of Music in Valletta.

Way back in the beginning of 1965, The Hot Shots changed its name to The Templars. They were playing regularly at the Rocky Vale in St Julian’s with the following line-up: Dennis Buhagiar –Rhythm Guitar, Joe Buhagiar – Bass Guitar, Arthur Desira – Second Guitar, Wilfrid Buttigeg – Lead Guitar, Lino Desira – Drums.

Wilfrid made his first 6 string steel guitar in 1966, and later made a twin neck 8 String Steel Guitar. Together with Arthur Desira on rhythm guitar, Manuel Diacono on Bass, they formed the Waikiki Shells, playing mostly Hawaiian music, and recorded various 13-week weekly radio programmes on Rediffusion G’Manġia presented by the late Charles Arrigo, Effie Ciantar and Victor Galdes, and on the British Forces Broadcasting Service at St Francis Ravelin (now the MEPA premises) known better as BFBS.

During 1968 he played guitar at the Hotel Phoenicia Restaurant with Jimmy Dowling’s Band.

In 1969 he joined Edwin Galea and the Ekosonics Band. They were the resident band at The Caravelle in Qui-Si-Sana at Pharaoh’s Den, The Salina Bay Hotel, (now The Coastline), and later at the Corinthia Palace Hotel in Ħ'Attard.

Wilfrid Buttigieg

In 1970 Wilfrid made his own and first electric guitar. This was a copy of an ‘ES 345 Gibson’. This gained him popularity among local guitarists and musicians because of his good quality guitar building and servicing of other guitarists’ instruments.

In 1971 he bought his first pedal steel guitar, which he taught himself then. This was a Fender Artist Dual Ten, with two necks, ten strings on each neck, 8 floor pedals and 4 knee levers. There was no internet in those days, and nobody else played this instrument locally, and very rarely across Europe. So no teachers were easily available.

In 1972 together with Raymond Ray Agius on keyboards and Louis Piccione on drums the trio was engaged as the resident band at The Gardens Restaurant / Night Club in is-Swieqi.

In 1974 he joined the Main Item Band with Enzo Gusman as the lead singer, Victor Fenech on Bass, the late Edward Briffa on Keyboards, and Joe Camilleri on Drums. Main Item was then the resident band at the Nigret Night Club, inRabat.

In 1976 Main Item moved to the Venus Night Club at the Preluna Hotel were they were the resident band till when the British Forces left Malta on the 31st March 1979.

The band participated in the 1976 Malta Folk Song Festival with Enzo Gusman winning the festival with his own composition ‘Zepp u Grezz’. The event was held at the University theatre, and the line-up here was Edward Briffa on Accordion, Victor Fenech on Bass, Enzo Gusman Singer, the late Charles Sciberras on Percussion, Bernadette Buttigieg on Violin (Wilf’s sister) and Wilfrid Buttigieg on Guitar.

In 1979 he was appointed as a classical and modern guitar teacher at the Johann Strauss School of Music in Valletta, where he held this post until he retired from teaching in 1997.

In 1980 with Victor Fenech on bass, later replaced by Tony Barbara, Edward Briffa on keyboards, Joe Camilleri on drums, and Wilfrid Buttigieg on Guitar, they became the resident band at the Palazzo Pescatore.

In 1982, Victor Fenech on Bass reformed and led the Main Item band. This time with Antoine Bonnici Soler on Keyboards, who was replaced by Godwin Lucas in January 1984. The drummer was the late Charles Sciberras, and Wilfrid was the guitar player. They were engaged as the resident band for the Maritim Selmun Palace Hotel from 1982 till 1996.

In 1997, Wilfrid was engaged as the resident entertainer at The Caprice Bar, The Corinthia Palace Hotel, Ħ'Attard where he performed as a soloist till the year 2000.

Over the years, Wilfrid played guitar for many cabaret shows performed by Enzo Gusman in local Hotels, Restaurants and Night Clubs.

He was also the guitar player in orchestras conducted by Mro. Joseph Sammut, the late Mro. Anthony Chircop accompanying singers in many local song festivals.

In the late 1980s, he started his own business, Guitar Clinic, servicing guitars. In 1994 he opened his first music shop, Guitar Studio in Ħamrun, selling and servicing guitars, strings, parts and accessories. At 1997 he opened his second music shop, this time named Knight Music also in Ħamrun, and trading all sorts of musical instruments.

His most popular recording is ‘Selmun’, a composition by Victor Fenech played on Classical Guitar. His latest CDs include A Pedal Steel Guitar Collection, comprising Jazz, Pop, Latin and Country hits. And ‘Merry Christmas’, a collection of Christmas Songs all played on pedal steel guitar.

See also

Category:Wilfrid Buttigieg Photos