Brian John “B. J.” Cole is Britain’s pre-eminent pedal steel guitarist. He is a renowned session and solo musician who works across many genres from pop, rock and jazz through to more eclectic and experimental styles.

Initially inspired by The Shadows he learnt guitar at an early age; however by 1963 a performance from the American duo Santo & Johnny encouraged a move to the lap steel and soon after he acquired his first pedal steel – a Fender 1000.

His breakthrough moment came in 1971, playing steel guitar on Elton John’s ‘Tiny Dancer’, included on the album Madman Across the Water. This demonstrated what Cole and the steel guitar were capable of, creating a context for the instrument in other artists’ work.

Throughout his career he has been in constant demand as a session musician appearing with artists such as Roger Daltry, Procul Harem, Joan Armatrading, Cat Stevens, The Walker Brothers, Paul Young and The Stranglers amongst many others.

He continues to work with high profile and more experimental artists including Bjork, The Orb, Spiritualised, Robbie Williams and Brian Eno.
His solo work has always been experimental, and involves working as a performer as well as a writer, arranger, mixer and producer.

Cole has pioneered the use of the pedal steel outside of American Country music where he feels he is pushing boundaries in bringing the exotic, yearning sound to unfamiliar contexts. A shared passion for exotica and drum ‘n’ bass culminated in ‘Stop the Panic’ an electronica album with Luke Vibert and later on 2004’s ‘Trouble in Paradise’ including appearances by Groove Armada and Alabama 3.

Fun Fact

Never content to stand still, BJ now makes his unique sound palette available to recording artists, songwriters and record producers via his ‘Online Overdub Service’, which he has set up as an economical and speedy way to get his Pedal Steel on to your recordings via the internet.

About this Contributor

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Brian, John
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Minutes created
Christmas #1, Collection 1 #2

Minutes by BJ Cole