This is intended to be a homage to very many musicians I've loved since I started listening to music. My intention is to tell what I know about them, hoping that those people who like them too, will help me fill numerous gaps, which I may have in their careers and discographies. Sorry, but there are no MP3 audio files here at all, just info (and love for the musicians).

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Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Ian Cruickshank / Spit James (guitar)

(Also known as: Spit James)
  • Keef Hartley Band
  • Swing Guitars
  • Nigel Kennedy Group
  • Ian Cruickshank´s Gypsy Jazz


Awesome guitarist; I fell in love with Spit James´ playing in Keef Hartley Band's first album, but at the same time, it was a difficult task trying to know more about him, as he seemed to have disappeared from music scene after leaving that band. But I was wrong, fortunately. Let's see what's the story.

I don't have any biographical data about him, and I don't know of any bands where he played prior to joining Keef.


One of the finest blues bands I've ever heard, believe me! This was the first incarnation of the band:

êNew Nadir
Owen Finnegan
Ian Cruickshank
guitar (as Spit James)
Gary Thain
Dino Dines
Keef Hartley

They started recording their first album, but they felt something didn't work. So they changed the vocalist.

They try with a different vocalist, but again, no luck:

Sam Holland
Ian Cruickshank
guitar (as Spit James)
Gary Thain
Dino Dines
Keef Hartley

But they finally called the great Miller Anderson to join as vocalist and lead guitarist, in November 1968:

Nov 68-?
Miller Anderson
guitar, vocals
Ian Cruickshank
guitar (as Spit James)
Gary Thain
Dino Dines
Keef Hartley

Keef found in Miller a fantastic companion, a superb guitarist and singer, who composed most of the songs.

With Miller's voice, they release the fantastic album, Halfbreed, recorded in three days, with a funny introduction where you can hear John Mayall's conversation with Keef, when he tells him he's out of Bluesbreakers band. The track is appropiately named ´Sacked´. Dino (here, credited as Peter Dines) co-writes half of the tracks in the album. Notice has to be made about all the guitar parts in the album were recorded by Spit. Miller just included the vocals, no guitars.

In the album, there's a horn section to enrich their sound (mainly Hartley former bandmates in John Mayall band):

  • Henry Lowther (trumpet, violin)

  • Harry Beckett (trumpet)

  • Lyn Dobson (tenor sax, flute)

  • Chris Mercer (tenor sax)

  • But, after a while, Spit James left the band, leaving Miller Anderson as the only guitarist.

    Other info on members of Keef Hartley Band (I know up to 29 members)
    Already covered (7): Harry Beckett, Dave Caswell, Dino Dines, Keef Hartley, Lyle Jenkins, Chris Mercer, Nick Newell
    To be covered (21): Danny Allmark, Miller Anderson, Derek Austin, Mike Davis, Lyn Dobson, Martin Drover, Owen Finnegan, Sam Holland, Jimmy Jewell, Henry Lowther, Junior Marvin, Terry Noonan, Michael Rosen, Gary Thain, Ingrid Thomas, Barbara Thompson, Roger Wade, Derek Wadsworth, Mick Weaver, Pete Wingfield, Pete York

    AND THEN...

    After that, the name Spit James never appeared in any other album, except for a couple of sessions made while he still was in the band (see below for the credits). What happened? Disillusioned with the rock scene, he turned into jazz guitar, and started using his real name, Ian Cruickshank.


    In 1978, Ian started studying the music of jazz guitar genius Django Reinhardt, who has proved to be Ian's biggest influence in his playing. Then he formed a band called Swing Guitars:

    + others unknown to me. Help, please!


    This was a jazzy group for Nigel Kennedy in 1984:

    Nigel Kennedy
    Diz Disley
    Nils Solberg
    Jeff Green
    Dave Etheridge

    Other info on members of Nigel Kennedy Group (I know up to 8 members)
    To be covered (2): Jeff Green, Mick Hutton


    This is the Gary Potter Trio around 1991:

    Gary Potter
    Andy Crowdy

    Other info on members of Gary Potter Group (I know up to 8 members)
    To be covered (1): Herbie Flowers


    Ian is the founder and leader of Ian Cruickshank´s Gypsy Jazz band, formed more than 20 years ago. The combo hasn´t a stable lineup, appearing as a trio, quartet or even sextet. This is one of the lineups I know:

    Jez Cook
    Jeff Green
    Andy Crowdy
    Peter Morgan
    Mike Piggott

    This is a different configuration for Ian Cruickshank´s Gypsy Jazz as a trio:

    John Coverdale
    Peter Morgan

    Other info on members of Ian Cruickshank´s Gypsy Jazz (I know up to 7 members)
    To be covered (2): Jeff Green, Mike Piggott

    Apart from playing, Ian is author of several books and instructional music videos. He also was co-producer and music coordinator for the Channel 4 TV documentary film ‘Django Legacy’ and runs a jazz record company, Fret Records.

    Music books written:
  • The guitar style of Django Reinhardt & the gypsies (1982)

  • From Rock to Jazz

  • Getting Started With Jazz Guitar

  • Django's gypsies - Mystique of Django Reinhardt and his People

  • Notes

  • The A to Z of Django

  • Ian has many forthcoming projects, including a new album and his autobiography. So, why not checking his own website for details? (see the link below).

    DISCOGRAPHY: (17 albums known to me - Status: Quite advanced)

    OWN ALBUMS (7 credits)
    • Ian Cruickshank´s Gypsy Jazz - Ian Cruickshank´s Gypsy Jazz (1993)

    • Swingin´ spirits - Ian Cruickshank with Pearl Django (1995)

    • Django meets the Duke - Ian Cruickshank´s Gypsy Jazz (1996)

      • Members: Ian Cruickshank
      • Guests: Alan Barnes (RIP: Johnny Van Derrick)
      • Comments: Half live.
    • Now and zen - Cruickshank / Morgan / Coverdale ( - )

    • Country and eastern - Ian Cruickshank & John Kitchin ( - )

    • Gypsy jazz guitar - Ian Cruickshank ( - )

    • Water gypsy - Ian Cruickshank ( - )

    ALBUMS AS A BAND MEMBER (3 credits)
    • Halfbreed - Keef Hartley Band (03/1969)

      • Members: Miller Anderson, Ian Cruickshank, Lyn Dobson, Henry Lowther, Chris Mercer (RIP: Harry Beckett, Dino Dines, Keef Hartley, Gary Thain)
      • Guests: John Mayall
      • Producer: Neil Slaven
      • Technical: Derek Varnals
      • Comments: In Halfbreed, there's a horn section to enrich their sound (mainly Hartley former bandmates in John Mayall band): Henry Lowther (trumpet, violin), Harry Beckett (trumpet), Lyn Dobson (tenor sax, flute), Chris Mercer (tenor sax). CD reissue by Deram contains 1 bonus track.
    • The Battle of North West Six - Keef Hartley Band (11/1969)

      • Members: Miller Anderson, Ian Cruickshank, Mike Davis, Lyn Dobson, Jimmy Jewell, Henry Lowther, Chris Mercer, Barbara Thompson, Mick Weaver (RIP: Harry Beckett, Keef Hartley, Gary Thain)
      • Guests: Mick Taylor, Ray Warleigh
      • Producer: Neil Slaven
      • Technical: John Punter, Derek Varnals
      • Comments: The battle of North West Six is their second album. It was still recorded with Spit James in the band, with contributions from Mick Taylor (The Rolling Stones) guesting on guitar on one track. Plus Mike Davis (trumpet), Harry Beckett (trumpet, flugelhorn), Lynn Dobson (tenor saxophone, flute), Chris Mercer (tenor saxophone), Barbara Thompson (baritone saxophone, flute) and Ray Warleigh (flute).
      • My opinion: Another superb album.
    • Not foolish, not wise - Keef Hartley Band (1999)

      • Members: Danny Allmark, Miller Anderson, Derek Austin, Dave Caswell, Ian Cruickshank, Mike Davis, Lyn Dobson, Martin Drover, Henry Lowther, Junior Marvin, Chris Mercer, Nick Newell, Terry Noonan, Michael Rosen, Ingrid Thomas, Barbara Thompson, Roger Wade, Pete Wingfield, Pete York (RIP: Harry Beckett, Dino Dines, Keef Hartley, Gary Thain, Derek Wadsworth)
      • Producer: Neil Slaven
      • Comments: In 1999 it has been released a new live album by the band. Not foolish, not wise comprises old live recordings, plus some studio tracks, recorded from 1968 to 1972. Sadly, it doesn't include any info about the musicians involved, so we just can´t but guess who appears there.
    • The Gypsy jazz guitar festival ´98 - VVAA (1998)

    • The Gypsy jazz guitar festival ´99 - VVAA (1999)

      • Guests: Alan Barnes, Ian Cruickshank, Dave Green, Jeff Green (RIP: Diz Disley)
    • The Gypsy jazz guitar festival 2000 - VVAA (2000)

    SESSIONS (3 credits)
    • Fiends and angels - Martha Velez (1969)

      • Members: Martha Velez
      • Guests: Brian Auger, Jack Bruce, Eric Clapton, Jeff Condon, Ian Cruickshank, Christine McVie, Chris Mercer, Terry Noonan, Bud Parkes, Andy Silvester, Mick Weaver, Stan Webb (RIP: Johnny Almond, Duster Bennett, Dave Bidwell, Jim Capaldi, Keef Hartley, Paul Kossoff, Mitch Mitchell, Gary Thain, Derek Wadsworth, Chris Wood)
      • Producer: Mike Vernon
      • Technical: David Grinsted, Derek Varnals
      • Comments: Great collection of musicians for her debut: from Cream: Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce. From Traffic: Jim Capaldi, Chris Wood. From Keef Hartley Band: Keef Hartley (drums), Spit James (guitar), the late Gary Thain (bass), Mick Weaver (keyboards), Chris Mercer (sax). From Jimi Hendrix band: Mitch Mitchell (drums). From John Mayall: Johnny Almond (sax). From Free: Paul Kossoff (guitar). From Chicken Shack: Stan Webb (guitar), Andy Silvester (bass), Christine McVie (keyboards), Dave Bidwell (drums). Plus: Brian Auger (organ). The cream of British blues-rock.
    • Suite Django - Paul Vernon Chester ( - )

    • Otis Spann - Otis Spann ( - )

      • Members: (RIP: Otis Spann)
      • Guests: Bud Beadle, Ian Cruickshank, Steve Gregory (RIP: Ransom Knowling, Muddy Waters)
      • Comments: This albums was later reissued in 1969 with overdubs by Spit James, Steve Gregory, Bud Beadle, Rod M. Lee as Cracked spanner head.


    01. Has Ian played with Stephane Grappelli?


    Official site(s) - tell them you saw the link here:

    From the always interesting Alex's Picks (by Alex Gitlin), we have:

    From the superb site Knights in Blue Denim: The British Blues Scene '68 - '70 (by Christer Fridhammar & Vanja), we have:

    Wikipedia doesn´t want to include links to this website, but I won´t do the same with them. So, from the great Wikipedia, we have:

    Assorted links:

    Disclaimer: I don´t own or upload any of the videos linked here. I just include links to live videos that are already available, in order to show the work of this musician. Anyway, if someone feels that some link shouldn't be included, please write me at the email address shown below. And if you know of more videos featuring Ian Cruickshank, please, also write me with the link.

    Very Special Thanks to:
  • Ian Cruickshank: for answering me, confirming he and Spit James were the same person (2001).

  • Special Thanks to:
  • Tim Pratt: for his great presents (2001).

  • Thanks to:
  • Rob Wilson: for asking about Spit in my old guestbook. Now you have the answer. :) (2000).
  • Karl Stone: for asking about Spit in my old guestbook. Now you have the answer. :) (2000).
  • Alex Gitlin: my friend, for scans and albums (2001).
  • Stef Bilbo: for asking about Spit James (2001).
  • Dan Forte: for asking about Spit James (2002).
  • Keith Graham: big fan of Spit James, for asking about him (2005).
  • Roger Batchelor: for his comments on Spit James (2006).
  • Jim Allan: for asking about Spit James (2002).


    30/November/2010 - Page added to the blog.
    04/April/2001 - Original page written by me (in the old site).


    Ian Cruickshank mostly worked with these musicians: (name + number of credits)
    Andy Crowdy (5)
    Keef Hartley (5)
    Chris Mercer (5)
    Gary Thain (5)
    Miller Anderson (4)
    Henry Lowther (4)
    Harry Beckett (3)
    Jez Cook (3)
    Dino Dines (3)
    Lyn Dobson (3)

    Page created by Miguel Terol on: 04/April/2001 - Last modified on: 01/December/2011. If you want to contribute with info, please write to:

    Please, note than you can check the indexes (musicians, bands, obituaries) at the top of this page.


    1. I was interested to read this information as I knew Ian when he lived in Henley on Thames in the early 70's I lost touch with him around '75

    2. Prior to the Keef Hartley Band, Ian was in the Ian Lloyd Blues Band, with trademark song Hound Dog. I understand they were at one point offered a recording contract by Mike Vernon at Blue Horizon which was subsequently withdrawn.

    3. Ian has done a lot for budding jazz guitarists, his book "Django and the Gypsies " is a real insight into hot club playing, and a must for gypsy chord playing and solo licks.
      Hoping Ian is still playing and in good health as his contribution and work rate for the cause has been considerable.
      Ade Holland.

    4. Apparently, according to Miller Anderson's FB page, Ian has passed away recently. Sad news...

      1. Hi, Rob. How sad... Thanks for the news, anyway.

    5. I thought I was pretty much up on all the great Brit blues guitarists, but I somehow missed Spit James. Great solo on Born to Die. Peter Green still rules Mt Olympus.

    6. Ian Cruickshank (b. Ian Cruickshank, 1947 d. April 2017), first band was The Ian Lloyd Bluesmen which he joined at 18 in 1965. Cruickshank had been approached to join The Keef Hartley Band by Hartley after a gig when The Ian Lloyd Bluesmen supported John Mayall's Bluesbreakers. Hartley asked him to join and he did thus turning professional. He also took the stage name of Split James coined by Hartley who said it sounded more like a bluesman.

      1. Hi, John, great to know from you again. As always, a huge THANK YOU for all your countless contributions to this website.


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