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Johnny Marr Teaches Viewers How to Play the Smiths’ ‘The Headmaster Ritual’

Guitarist offers virtual lesson as part of Fender’s Artist Check-In series

Johnny Marr performed a stripped-down, instrumental take on the Smiths’ “The Headmaster Ritual,” then offered a virtual guitar lesson as part of Fender’s ongoing Artist Check-In series.

The clip opens with Marr offering a quick breakdown of the gear he’s using before launching into the Meat Is Murder opener. Prior to the instructional portion of the video, Marr notes that he wrote “The Headmaster Ritual” in open E tuning and says that kind of experimentation can be a useful songwriting tool. “I had no idea what I was doing when I wrote it, and I quite like that,” he says. “I think it’s a handy device for cutting out the brain static that gets in the way of coming up with chord changes.”

Fender launched its Artist Check-In series at the beginning of April to provide fans a glimpse of artists’ home studios and glean some techniques and tricks for their own guitar playing. The series is also doubling as a fundraiser, with Fender making a donation to MusiCares’ COVID-19 relief fund for each musician that participates in the series. Prior to Marr, the series has featured Rancid’s Matt Freeman, Chris Shiflett, Cory Wong and John 5.

Marr released his most recent solo album, Call the Comet, in 2018, while last year he shared two new tracks, “Armatopia” and “The Bright Parade.” In January, it was announced that Marr was reuniting with composer Hans Zimmer to score the new James Bond film, No Time to Die, which has since had its release date pushed back to November because of the coronavirus pandemic.