Martin Winch
Died aged 62

Back in his early years as a guitarist, Martin Winch, by his own account, hoped to be famous by the age of 20. But it didn't quite work that way.

Instead, he had a career described by the Herald's Louisa Cleave as a mixed bag. He played with some big names in music, from the early days backing Roger Whitaker, and working for Shirley Bassey and Elaine Page on their tours Downunder.

"The biggest deal for me was working with Randy Crawford," he told the Herald. "I really like what she did."

In 1999, he was presented with the first New Zealand Guitarist of the Year Award, receiving it at the World Series Guitar Festival in the Aotea Centre.

At the time, he had a chart-topping album, Expresso Guitar, which had already sold 30,000, and went on sale in Australia, the US and Britain.

The album was described as a "Piano by Candlelight-type" collection of popular hits reworked on guitar.

By then, Winch had been writing music for more than 30 years, doing everything from playing for international and many local artists to recording backing music for television commercials.

"I've spent most of my life being commercial behind other people as a session musician," Winch said.

But a judge of his award said his honour recognised achievement and excellence, something Winch had proven in his long career and his recent hits.

It may be that his worth was masked somewhat by his great versatility. He preferred jazz guitar, but was also skilled at rock, blues, acoustic and electric guitar, taught music at the University of Auckland for five years and later at his North Shore home. And although he had five albums under his own name, he played on many others.

Of Expresso Guitar, he found it welcome for the profile, having become "tired of being treated like playing guitar isn't a real job". Winch is survived by his wife, Ginny, mother Molly and family.