About me

Hello and thanks for visiting my website.

I am Ed Alleyne-Johnson. The following is a brief biography of me and you will find out more about my music on the rest of the website. Happy reading!

Ed’s Biography

Having studied Fine Art at Oxford University, Ed designed and built his own five string electric violin (hand carved from walnut, maple and American oak), and developed a unique style of multi-layered playing using digital delays and effects pedals while busking on the streets of Europe.

Ed Alleyne-Johnson Busking in York 2013

Ed Alleyne-Johnson Busking in York 2013

He came to the attention of cult band ‘New Model Army’ and was asked in 1989 to play session violin on their top 30 single ‘Vagabonds’ (featuring a one minute violin solo intro) and on their ‘Thunder and Consolation’ album.

This was the start of a five year association with the band, during which time he played electric violin, keyboards and guitar with the band for over 200 concerts worldwide, supporting acts as diverse as Simple Minds, Bob Dylan, David Bowie, The Cure, Midnight Oil and Faith No More.

Over the next few years his violin was featured on the New Model Army albums ‘Impurity’ (1990) and ‘Raw Melody Men’ (1991), also the singles ‘Green and Grey’ (1989), ‘Purity’ (1990) and the Ballads EP ‘Living in The Rose’ (1993).

His live solo violin sets, which often opened New Model Army gigs, led to the recording of two solo instrumental albums, Purple Electric Violin Concerto (1992) and Ultraviolet (1994) and the associated singles Red (1994) and Oxford Suite Part 1 (1994) which Ed performed live on TV on ‘Later With Jools Holland’.

Helped by airplay on both Radio 1 and Classic FM, ‘Purple Electric Violin Concerto’ sold over 80,000 copies and has gained a cult following in Greece, Belgium, the Netherlands, Poland and New Zealand as well as the UK. Album tracks have been used on TV adverts and as documentary soundtracks on BBC2 and Channel 4. ‘Oxford Suite’ was used on the ‘Children in Need’ appeals on BBC1.

In 1994, Ed married singer Denyze D’Arcy, who had previously toured with bands such as The Pretenders and Ultravox, working as a vocalist and sax player with Wayne Hussey (Sisters of Mercy & The Mission) with whom she was signed to Sire Records.

Ed and Denyze toured extensively as a duo, building up a substantial cult following and releasing two Indie Rock albums together, Fly Before Dawn (1995) and 2020 Vision (1998), both on their own Wingspan label.

At the end of 2000, Ed made some guest appearances with New Model Army on their 20th anniversary tour in Nottingham and Cologne.

Purple Electric Violin Concerto 2 was released in September 2001, and sold well thanks to a live session on Radio 2′s Johnnie Walker Show and extensive airplay throughout Europe. The album was a return to the roots of ‘Purple Electric Violin Concerto’ featuring instrumental arrangements for Ed’s electric violin & digital delay/sampler and ambient vocal harmonies from Denyze. Like the first album, it was largely recorded as a live performance, building up the harmonies one by one using an 8 second delay pedal and multi effects which transform the violin into a double bass, string section and heavy metal guitar sound.

Ed’s next album, Echoes (2004), was an ambitious double album of 32 rock and pop classics arranged for solo violin and performed in his own inimitable style. It sold over 30,000 copies in the first few weeks of it’s release, due largely to Ed’s live performance of Guns & Roses’ ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’ on Radio 2′s Johnnie Walker Show which was repeated by popular demand and resulted in ‘Echoes’ briefly overtaking Coldplay and Natalie Imbruglia by reaching No. 2 in the Amazon CD charts!

This was followed by the release of Reflections in 2006 which was another rock covers album, this time featuring Ed’s favourite 70′s tracks which he grew up with as a teenager. Highlights include a full 13 minute version of Pink Floyd’s ‘Shine on you Crazy Diamond’ with all the parts played on electric violin, ‘Freebird’ and Led Zeppelin’s ‘Kashmir’.

All this time, Ed has continued to perform live on the streets, which he has been doing now for over 30 years! He has busked in nearly every major city in Europe, across the USA and Canada, and even in Brasil.

A YouTube clip of him busking in Chester has attracted over 2,000,000 viewers. He now mainly busks in York, sometimes using customized solar panels to power his amp and effects pedals!

Ed’s eighth solo album, ‘Symphony’, (released on Oct 6th 2008) was his most ambitious to date. It was a return to original compositions and featured his first 4 movement classical symphony, ‘Symphony No. 1 in G minor’ which he wrote and recorded for his father, who sadly died of liver cancer in February 2008. Ed played over 20 overdubbed electric violins on the Symphony, and performed all the other instruments as well, using an orchestral sampling keyboard and a computer – literally a one man orchestra! The other six album tracks are pieces for electric violin, four of which are performed live with digital delays in Ed’s trademark style, while the other two are multi instrumental rock tracks on which he plays lead violin, bass, guitar, synthesizer, electronic drums and percussion.

In July 2008 Ed performed the Beatles tracks ‘Yesterday’ and ‘Eleanor Rigby’ in front of 7,000 people at Liverpool’s Echo Arena for a Beatles Day charity gig.

‘Symphony’ was composed, recorded and produced in Ed’s home city of Liverpool, as his contribution to the European Capital of Culture year 2008.

In 2010, Ed was commissioned to write a short soundtrack for an RSPB Spring-watch nature video.

In the summer, he performed electric violin on two movements of Benjamin Till’s award-winning ‘Symphony for Yorkshire’ which was broadcast by the BBC on August 1st and subsequently released on DVD, with the proceeds going to Children in Need.

Later that year he released his ninth album, ‘Arpeggio’, which included seven of his own compositions and seven cover versions in a wide range of styles, from the baroque-tinged ‘Passacaglia in C minor’ to hard rock on  Metallica’s ‘Nothing Else Matters’ and even a dub-reggae cover of UB40′s ‘The Earth Dies Screaming’!

2012 saw the release of a re-packaged and re-mastered 20th anniversary special edition of Ed’s first album, the ‘Purple Electric Violin Concerto’, which features four bonus tracks on disc 1, (including the previously unreleased ‘Himalaya’), and a completely new 2012 recording of the entire album on disc 2. Released by BBC Worldwide on the Edsel label, it includes a 24-page booklet and deluxe slipcase.

In 2013, Ed performed a couple of shows in Manchester and Köln with New Model Army, to mark the 30th anniversary of the band. The Köln concert was recorded for possible release as a live album.

13 Responses to “About me”

  1. Geoff G August 23, 2014 at 8:19 pm #

    I came across Ed today (23/8/2014) busking in Chester. I struggled to get past the crowd blocking the road and pathways so i stopped as he began playing. This guy is a genius, his violin is an instrument of pure joy.

    His 1 hour allowance in one spot went far too quickly at which time i threw a few sheckles in his violin case and purchased his “Echoes” CD.

    I had taken my wife into Chester shopping but that hour in the company of ED was worth every reluctant minute walking from store to store after.

    Ed Alleyne-Johnson you will never remember our short meeting but your incredible ability to work with your violin in Chester will be engrained in my people of interest part of my brain for EVER thank you. as i said to you on the day YOU ARE CLASS and thank you for enhancing my life today

    • Shelley & Andrew September 9, 2014 at 12:18 pm #

      We were in Chester on this day and the memories will stay with us for a long time. It was a special day anyway as we were shopping for wedding rings. We came across Ed and usually we walk on by a busker but we stood and listened. What a talent. We walked away but went back to listen when he started playing Pachelbel’s Canon in D – what a lovely version. it made our visit to Chester even more special. I even said it would be lovely to have him play at our wedding!!! well done Ed, you bring a lot of pleasure to people with your music.

  2. Paul Dinnage September 21, 2014 at 7:27 pm #

    From the 1st time I heard Ed, I’ve forever since had the sound of his electic violin engrained in my memory. Bravo Ed!

  3. Kev Wilson November 1, 2014 at 7:20 pm #

    Saw Ed busking in York today (1st Novermber 2014) and it blew me away and I bought the “Echos” album there and then! It was on the CD player within 10 minutes of getting home – what a talent and I can wait to see him live again either busking or a gig.

  4. Claire Eyre November 11, 2014 at 8:17 pm #

    I have never heard of Ed before until shopping in Chester Saturday 8th November and was drawn to listening to him. I thought he was fantastic and picked up a card and would definitely go to see him in concert if he comes to Manchester or hopefully see him again busking.

  5. Elkie Werner November 25, 2014 at 10:43 am #

    Hi Ed,
    I live in NSW Australia! We have never met but my mum is your 2nd cousin! I am 7 yrs old and play the violin at Coffs Harbour Conservatorium. I am trying to convince my teacher to let me play the electric violin like you because I love listening to your music. I would love to have a jam session one day!
    My brother Jonah is 9 and plays guitar. In January we are going to busk together for the first time in a town called Sawtell. Please keep writing new songs .I love your Purple concerto and Jonah loves the Orange concerto and we love the new website and all the busking clips!

  6. Tony Pengelly November 30, 2014 at 11:09 am #

    I met Ed in Chester. I first came across him when I attended university in Oxford. The man is a genius. He was so polite and down to earth. I explained to my wife who he was and now she is a fan. I have all his music and as long as he keeps releasing albums I will definitely buy!!!!!

  7. David Podmore February 4, 2015 at 3:44 pm #

    Trudging through a freezing Chester looking for a new winter coat we caught a wonderful, ethereal waft of violin music from down the street. Drawn to it, we stood and bathed in the multi-layered symphony of sound.
    Ed is a musician and not just a guy who plays an instrument. Unassuming and modest, this magician conjures such joy from just one violin. It seems he MUST have an orchestra secreted under his coat….

    CD bought and here I sit at home basking….

  8. Marion April 19, 2015 at 2:04 pm #

    I was in York yesterday 18thApril 2015 with a friend and we came across you playing your wonderful sound and was blown away by it,may you continue for a long time to come.

  9. Robert Schwarz July 8, 2015 at 1:08 am #

    After a lucky stumble across the busking in chester video, Iv’ determined I have a new super hero. His name is Ed.

  10. Andy Gregory October 17, 2016 at 4:30 pm #

    Just back from York and after seeing and hearing you bought your echoes cd. My daughter now wants it. Hope to hear you live again keep it up and thank you for sharing your talent

  11. Ivo M November 1, 2016 at 10:55 am #

    I also play violin, and I heard Ed’s tracks in 1994 for first time, Ed is forerunner of today’s crossover music, such as Vannesa Mae, 2cellos etc. Hope to see Ed with his real band/chamber touring. Zivio ;)

  12. Racheal January 15, 2017 at 9:41 pm #

    I am from Australia and I was on a day trip to Chester, suddenly I heard your music and recognised it straightaway as I have 2 of your albums! I followed the sound of the music, watch you busk in the street and made donation which I smiled to you.

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