Overview | Blog Site | Memorial August 14, 2005 |

  Memories of Ted  
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I met Ted for the first time in the early 80s. My friend Rick Udler couldn't make his lesson with Ted, and so he sent me as a sub. Ted asked me what I was playing, and I told him I was working on Jobim's "Triste." Ted immediately showed me some chord subs. The wild thing was, they all involved impossible stretches. I don't mean impossible for a beginner--I mean impossible for just about any guitar player. I expressed some dismay about being able to play them. Ted's response was: "You've got to control the guitar, instead of letting it control you." I saw immediately that this guy knew no limits.

What blew my mind even more was two weeks later, Rick told me that Ted had asked him if I liked the lesson. I was amazed that Ted was so concerned, as if any guitar player wouldn't feel he was sitting at the feet of the master. How could we possibly *not* like the lesson, Ted?

I hope that Ted's many friends and students can find some way to share his unpublished lesson sheets and tape recordings, perhaps on a web site. Assuming that's okay with Ted's family. What better way to pay tribute to this wonderful man than to make his recorded legacy available. I sort of have the feeling that he would prefer it be given away freely than distributed any other way.

Thomas Brown, browntf@hal.lamar.edu
July 29, 2005 1:32 PM


I first heard Ted's name when my former jazz guitar teacher told me to get Chord Chemistry. There is such a wealth of information in there I doubt I will ever master it all. I had always hoped I could have a lesson with Ted one day and hear him play in person. I was planning a trip to CA soon and was going to try and look him up.

I've listened to his Solo Guitar album so many times, yet every time I listen ,I always hear something new. Ted was a true gift to this world. It really saddens me to hear of his passing. Is there any way other unreleased recordings of his or lessons that were recorded could possibly be released? One album..as brillant and long lasting as it is..is just not enough.


John R.
July 29, 2005 1:42 PM


When I moved out here and heard that Ted Greene (of chord chemistry fame) gave lessons at ridiculously low prices I was excited. When I met the man heard him play for the first time, I was astounded, and every time afterward the amazement of where this GENIUS was at constanty grew.
Then theres the man. The humble, kind, generous, honest soul. I've never heard anyone speak in the negative of Ted, always an outpouring of positive energy, even when he was not around he was inspiring.
This is obviously how it has to be now.

Ted played my 40th birthday party in April. He let me record it. He hung out long after and talked with us mere mortals. He was happy... we were ecstatic.
Thank you for this outlet. For what its worth I would not be the musician that I am without Ted. Its obviously the same for so many, and just like Teds soul his inspiration lives on.
Thank You and God Bless You Ted Greene
With Love,

Greg Herzenach
July 29, 2005 2:00 PM


i only know of ted through his amazing book "chord chemistry."

that book has more chords that my fingers will ever execute, and i was and still am enchanted by the detail that went into that book.

we lost another one, and heaven is richer for it.

rest in peace ted.

geoff van maastricht
July 29, 2005 2:21 PM


It has taken us several days to write this, because our grieving for the loss of Ted has been so great. I still cannot stop crying at the mention of his name; he was so good to our family.

By way of background, my husband, Bob, has been Ted’s bi-weekly student (every-other Thursday at 2 p.m.) of Ted’s for almost 20 years. Yesterday was a particularly hard day, because Bob was supposed to meet with Ted at 2 p.m.

In all that time Ted only raised his rates one time in 20 years by $5 to a grand total of $25 for an hour of a genius’s time. When my husband asked why he left his prices so low, he said that he didn’t want to price out any talented guitarists just because they couldn’t afford to be there. Even though many of Ted’s student’s charged more to teach others, that’s just how dedicated he was to the profluence of the art of guitar. Ted often talked with my husband long after the allotted time period. Ted was a most generous man.

And Ted always agreed to play my legal business functions, even though the idiots in suits usually did not appreciate his talents.

He even graced our daughter’s birth by playing at her first Christmas party.

But we all know what a terrific, talented, gracious, generous, loving, modest (I could exhaust the Thesaurus!) man he was. Even though he is still unable to compile his “comments” for this site, for the past week my husband has not stopped telling little vignettes about Ted (with me crying all the while …). I wish I had a tape recorder running. I hope he will record them separately. But I hear him back in his studio upstairs trying to fulfill Ted’s vision….

When we arrived from New York City in 1987, Bob would ask everyone he met – without naming names, but they include the top studio musicians -- who he should study with. They ALL said, essentially, “well, a lot of the guys study with Ted Greene.”

As gentle as a man he was, Ted did not suffer fools. A student must be on time. No excuse for canceling a lesson would be accepted; like booking studio time, you better be here. And, while he was patient regarding our family distractions (since we, like any family, often have a lot of other stuff going on!), he expected his students to be prepared! So, our lives have kind of revolved on Bob’s being able to be ready for the lesson with Ted for the next Thursday for 20 years. It’s on my calendar for the rest of 2005. I hate to erase those entries.

He has loaned out so many instruments to students and friends. When the wildfires last year were impinging on our house, the first things loaded in the car were Ted’s gear and notes. The second were some tapes of another close guitar friend who died several years ago. And then 20 boxes of photos of our daughter – for which I got in trouble!

We just scheduled him to play an event in September. At that same event last year he started to put the guitar on the ground because he didn’t have a case for it. I scolded him that he couldn’t do that. He said he had been given the guitar by someone who thought didn’t sound right. Ted could make ANY instrument sound right.

The same event the year before we had a tiff because he commented that I had dyed my hair. I have never dyed my hair; I just haven’t gone gray yet. But Ted couldn’t understand how that accusation could offend a woman.

And he always refused to eat at any function because of his digestive limitations. I think he pretty much lived on peanut butter.

And that car! Could anyone squeeze more crap into a car … or an apartment?! But he could put his fingers on whatever he wanted whenever he wanted! (Where is he when I need him in my own house?!)

P.S. Barb & Ron – if we can do anything to help with the archival process, or with planning the services, please let us know. I really cannot tell you how really, really sorrowful we are. (I ‘ve been wearing sunglasses all week because my eyes are red and watery all the time)
Much love,

Carla (& Bob & Kennedy) CRyhal@aol.com
July 29, 2005 5:10 PM


After 19 years of studying with Ted Green on a bi-monthly basis, I received a phone call from a close friend, Loni Spector, who had received a phone call from Dan Sawyer, that Ted Greene had passed away last Saturday. It has taken me several days and many hours of discussing with my wife my heartfelt grief over the loss of Ted. I had looked forward to another 30 years of Ted’s guidance. I could go on forever about all of the stories I have about him. I just wanted to share a little gem:

About 7 years ago Ted was playing at a little restaurant called the Seashell on Ventura Blvd., near his home. Ted liked to be close to home. Those of you who know Ted, know he was not a self-promoter and would seldom say where or when he was playing. On that evening I waited for the dinner crowd to thin out and then greeted Ted. As usual he was still playing because he never took a break. Unlike me who can’t put two words together when I play solo guitar, Ted kept on playing as we talked for a few minutes. Then I sat down at a table by myself next to two fellow long-hairs -- obviously guitar-types – and obviously expressing our mutual admiration for Ted. We broke into conversation. One of the gentlemen introduced himself as Shawn Lane. (Those of you who know, the incredibly talented Shawn Lane unfortunately is now deceased, too.) After Ted had played for 2 – 3 hours, noting our enthusiastic support, he decided to give us a little something extra. Starting with what seemed to be an almost folk-like theme, Ted proceeded to spin the theme, covering baroque, R&B, Bee-Bop, you-name-it, ultimately returning to its original simplistic form. All I can say is that it was akin to what Keith Jarret can do when he grabs a hold of a theme – spontaneous composition. About half way through this display of incredible musical prowess, I realized I had tears running down my face. I turned and looked over at Shawn and saw that he, too, was crying.

After the show was over, Ted and Shawn talked for hours about 1920-30 classical pianists , as well as their love of Bill Evans and Art Tatum. Ted and Shawn were both truly diverse in their love of music. It was an incredible night.

Every once in a while in life you come across something incredibly special and, to me, that was Ted Greene. His quest, as he told me numerous times, was beauty. And Ted could articulate that in a way that no one else that I’ve ever met could.

I will miss my dear friend, teacher and mentor forever. God Bless, Ted.


Bob Holt.
July 29, 2005 5:17 PM


How about fender guitars recognizing ted. I mean its not like he didn't take the telecaster to places no one even knew existed. I hope corporate music america is more sensitive then I fear. . .

(No Name)
July 29, 2005 8:48 PM


I have been studying with ted for 2years. I got so many stuff from him. It is very important in my music. I will never forget him in my life.
Thankyou so musc Ted!!
be rest in heaven...

charlie jung
July 30, 2005 2:16 AM


I see the respect and admiration of the guitar makers and the guitar and music press on their web sites: Fender, Gibson, Guild, Guitar One, Guitar Player, JazzGuitar - its really touching.

Not a word.

People do what they want to do.

Thank heavens for this site.
July 30, 2005 5:27 AM




July 30, 2005 12:55 PM


I never had the chance to meet Ted, but I've worked through two dog-eared copies of Modern Chord Progressions. It opened my ears to so much new music, and became my musical bible. I will be mining ideas out of there until they pull my guitars away from me.

Back in the 70's I was buying a copy of Chord Chemistry and the salesman said "You've heard this guy play, haven't you?". "No", I said. With a wink, he pulled out a copy of Solo Guitar from under the counter and said, "This will change your life, man."

Thanks, Ted, for all the inspiration. I hope I can pay you back in the next world.

-brad benefield
July 30, 2005 2:29 PM


I first met Ted as I walked out into the shop at Ernie Ball's studio in Tarzana. Here was this new kid Ernie had just hired, this New York boy, rocking back and forth and playing the most incredible Motown licks and changes. Who knew what was to come. I watched him dig, listen, practice, investigate, study and blossom into the most incredible master of harmony on the guitar that has ever lived.

I was so very fortunate to have had him as a friend, and just to have known him. His generosity, kindness and passion to all who knew him will never be forgotten.

As far as his teaching, if only there was a way to bottle his energetic encouragement then dole it out to all the teachers of all the subjects the world, knowledge would explode. Imagine, students coming home bursting with a passion for what they were learning. He gives a lesson to all the lesson givers. Please listen and learn.

Ted will live on through the knowledge he imparted to so many of us and the friendship that he gave of himself so earnestly. I know that hundreds of years from now, he will still be remembered. Like many great genius artists, the real recognition seems to come after they go. Watch the legacy grow.

My sorrows to the family. This was just too soon. He had so much more to give.

I'll miss you, my friend.

July 31, 2005 4:15 AM


I first saw Ted in the late 60's. He was playing with a band called the Nomads at the "Tri-Center", a club in Canoga Park,CA.

I had allready begun lessons at Ernie Ball Guitar's and was being taught by Stan Black.

After seeing Ted play I realized that if I was going to become really serious about studying the guitar then I would need to graduate to the next level with Ted as my teacher.

In those days I was a pretty
cocky musician. I remember how I felt after the 1st lesson with Ted. He taught me one thing that I have never forgotten or outgrown. That one thing was Humility. In one 30 minute lesson Ted changed my whole idea of music and also changed my life forever.

I studied with Ted for about ten years. Thins being what they were at the time I could not continue. This is a decision I have allways regretted.

Through everything that I have gone through in my life, some good times and especially the bad times, there has always been one constant for me and that is music.

I humbly give all the credit for my passion to Ted.

Thank You Ted for all of your inspiration.

I will saddly miss you.

July 31, 2005 11:01 AM


I just happened to catch the end of the film the high and the mighty (score by Dimitri Tiomkin).
The main theme is pretty well known, of course, but when the passengers walk off there's this wonderful triumphal theme and arrangement.
I was going to call ted until I remembered. This doesn't seem to be getting any easier.

Leon White
July 31, 2005 11:06 AM


I had bought Ted’s Chord Chemistry book and referred to it when I was a young guitar teacher. It was like a volume of encyclopedias contained in one book. In the 80’s I saw Ted for the first time at a NAMM show where he played the most incredible version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”. The group gathered around him were just devastated; it was so beautiful. It brought tears to my eyes, and is the only thing I can remember from the entire event. When I moved to Los Angeles ten years ago I finally took a lesson from Ted. He was such a remarkable man, so humble, warm, and he delighted in what others played. It was exciting to be in the same room with him and I learned SO much in that one lesson. To hear him play and teach was inspirational. I’ve often thought of Ted Greene as a musical national treasure. My deepest sympathies to those closest to him. He contribution to guitar and to his many disciples will live on.

Lyle Workman
July 31, 2005 12:43 PM


I didn't know Ted personally, but I worked through all four of his books with Howard Morgen, my teacher. Marvelous work, did a LOT for my playing, and a definite monument of guitar scholarship. Peace, Ted, we owe you much.

Marty Power
July 31, 2005 1:27 PM


Ted got me into Teles and Vibroverbs and playing barehanded a long time ago. First in Woodland Hills at his parent's house. He took me on as a student knowing that I had no interest(or ability perhaps) in ever playing pro. He told me that he could tell that I just loved to play. I often wonder if he told everyone that. He taught me his style of playing. I have not had a lesson from him in years, but I use what he taught me every time I pick it up. I am lucky to still have the stuff that he taught me. Although I have not seen Ted in many years, I have thought about him often.

Kenny Rosen
July 31, 2005 4:04 PM


My brother, Jeff, pointed out that Ted Greene, the guy who wrote "Chord Chemistry" was doing a workshop at Bouelavrd Music. I went wondering what kind of person and player could write such a complex book at such a young age. I was totally transfixed on his knowledge, tone, talent. I took three or four private lessons from him after that and asked him if I could hire him to play two sets for my 55th birthday last December. It was the best birthday I ever had. I took the last workshop he offered at Boulevard Music a few months ago. When i asked Ted if he would play for my birthday he said, "It would be an honor...." The honor was all mine.

Mark Josephs
July 31, 2005 5:18 PM


Ted played a family party at my home 3 Sundays ago. This may possibly have been his last public performance. We have some photos which will be made available to all either on the Ted Site or on my web site or possibly, my brother, who shot the photos has already created a link to the photos. I will keep you posted as to how to see them. In the meantime,
I had 200 4x6's printed up today to distribute at the memorial.

I miss Ted very much.........

July 31, 2005 5:44 PM


July 31, 2005

My Dear Sweet Friend,

It has been just a little over one week and I have not until just now been able to sit down and even contemplate what I was going to say. How does one put over 30 years of experience, joy, love, and learning into a couple of paragraphs? Everyday, I come to this site and read something new about you - the weird thing is that everything that is being said here, I have personally experienced.

Lending out instruments? Hell, I remember the day you handed me (I forgot her name, shame on me)one of your guitars, and you told me to take it down to Normans and see what he would give me for it, so I could purchase my own Archtop! You were actually going to give me a guitar so I could get another guitar! I was not one of the unfortunate that needed a guitar, (my wife would have disowned me if another one came into this house) nor was I financially strapped. Were you trying to tell me, “Ricky, enough is enough, go get your own Archtop,” I think not. You were getting joy out of helping another human being share YOUR joy, and in this case, utilizing a guitar to help bring the joy - frankly, I thought you were nuts! (That is the difference between the Master and the pupil) You were just being you, one of the most generous, unselfish people I have ever known.

What amazes me is that I now realize you were a true Master. My ego thought that you had a special place in your heart for me! You never let on, you never discriminated, you were just being the Master that you were - EVERYONE was made to believe that they had (for whatever reason) a special place in your heart. The fact is, you were able to make all of us your “special” people.

Ted, as humble as you were, now I know, you knew the whole truth. I am not just talking about music here. Many people believe that you were put on this earth to teach. But your teachings ranged from simple “put your fingers here and strum” to the most complex theories of music that any one of us has ever been privileged to witness.

I believe it even goes farther than that. Those lessons, Ted, were about life! So many times, the lessons had nothing to do with music, but on how I could be a better human being. How to understand and cope with the everyday trials and tribulations that life had to give out. I need to be very careful here, I do not want to offend anyone but from my perspective, you are one of those very rare individuals put on this planet to help other human beings to grow and to learn life. You did it thru the music. God wants and desires for us to be happy - that’s all he/she wants for us - like our own children, we don’t care what our kids are doing just as long as they are safe and happy. That is you Ted. You didn’t care what we played, just as long as we were safe and happy doing it.

We now grieve because we miss you. We don’t know how we are going to go on without you. What kind of “life truth” would Ted be telling me right now - something like “Ricky, in time, with your diligence, and patience, it will all come to fruition.” I do know this - as long as we keep thinking about you, you will always be here with us.

I will miss you deeply, my friend.


Ricky (Katz)
July 31, 2005 8:21 PM


Pure Teddy - it was 1973 and I had sat in late on nite at the Baked Potato and after the set I asked the other guitar player, whos play had impresed me, if he knew any one in the area worth studying with. I had must moved out from NYC and was making the transition from R&B to Jazz and was lost.

When Ted answered the door I knew I had the wrong address... he was as bookish and professorial looking as my last history professor at NYU and I just knew he didn't know the difference between Joe Pass and Kenny Burrel, but my God was I wrong.

I don't want to go on about the talent and skills he possesed as a player and teacher, but I did want to mention a few things that changed my musical life.

Pure Teddy didn't teach one how to play the guitar - your style was yours and he didn't really want to change that, but what he did that was so amazing, was he was the first person I ever met who actually taught music theory throught the guitar. If one really wanted to get serious about theory he had to study with the piano, but not with Ted. He layed the guitar on his lap and nothing was out of reach.

Ted taught me how to play music a way that influenced everything I did the rest of my life. Ted gave me an old tele body and rosewood kneck that I used to build my first true jazz guitar. I studied with him for almost two years and then left and played in Europe a few years before almost cutting off the little finger on my left hand when I drunkingly tried to open oysters for a beautiful girls birthday. I called him after that and told him all I can play now was country music. He told me to listen to Willie Nelson and Wayne Jennings and not too worry -- good music was good music.

PUre Teddy was the most generous and unassuming man I ever met in my life and I will miss knowing that he was always just up Haskell and waiting for me to come back.

jay morran
July 31, 2005 8:26 PM


I only took two lessons with Ted but they were life changing experiences for me. Ted asked me to plug into a nice old Ampeg while he went into the kitchen to grab a quick snack. I noodled around for a minute and I heard Ted exclaim from around the corner “a seven string!” He walked in the room saying “ I was listening to you play in the middle register of your guitar and you waited a while before you hit the 7th string but then you were on it and I said, this man has seven strings!” He was very enthusiastic and the fun was only beginning. Next he surprised me by suggesting a meeting with Van Eps. I thought I was dreaming. Ted hadn’t spoken to Van Eps in a couple of years so he told me he’d call John Pisano and ask John to call George to try to persuade him to give me a lesson while I was in town. I was due back in LA in a couple of months so I was excited by the thought of meeting the great George Van Eps either this trip or next. As it turned out Ted did call John and left me a message. My guitar friend who I was staying with told me to never erase the message! For Ted to go that trouble for a guy he barely knew speaks volumes of his generosity.

Back to my lesson, once the topic turned to John Pisano Ted got very enthused. “Have you seen John’s hands? They’re huge you know, like basketball time!”
I learned later from John that he would take lessons from Ted but Mr. Greene never bragged about that. In fact his humble nature didn’t match up with the incredible music that came pouring out of his de-tuned Tele. I heard everything from classical, gospel, jazz, and R&B in Ted’s amazing improvisations. I was surprised that Ted could talk to me while he improvised. He encouraged me to ask him what he was thinking whenever I heard something I liked. Well as we all know I’d be doing a lot of talking! I was bowled over by what Ted was playing, it went far beyond what was on his record, which I thought was unsurpassable. He spoke in reverent tones about Van Eps, Wes Montgomery, Lenny Breau, Danny Gatton and so many others but Ted was playing on that level and was doing things I’ve never heard improvised on the guitar. I asked him some questions about his solo guitar album and he told me that much of it was arranged but he felt that he could now almost improvise it.

I’ve run into some great players influenced by Ted. John Pisano is one of his biggest fans. A couple of years ago Ben Monder brought up Ted Greene’s name and mentioned that he’d like to meet him and get some lessons. Even though Ben’s playing is on the very highest level he said that he’s learned a lot of things from Chord Chemistry. Lenny Breau was a huge fan and the list is a mile long!

Ted never got the recognition he deserved. He was the furthest thing from a self-promoter and by choice he decided to devote his life to teaching others. He’s a hero to me and hundreds (maybe thousands) of other musicians. His tireless pursuit of knowledge was reminiscent of John Coltrane’s. Ted was a reflection of the world’s beauty. His life’s work will surely not be in vain. It’s already evident that there will be much interaction between the many people touched by Ted. The bar has been raised and Ted would have liked nothing better than to see it go up even higher.

My condolences go out to all of Ted’s loved ones, friends and fans. May he rest in peace and finally get to meet all of his heroes from Bach to Montgomery.

Steve Herberman
July 31, 2005 8:47 PM


Rarely does a day pass when something I learned from Ted's great mind doesn't find its way onto my fingerboard. If there was a single person who opened my ears the infinite possibilities lying
on the surface on that fingerboard, it was Ted.
Thank you, Jay, for introducing me to Ted!

Ira Ingber
July 31, 2005 10:59 PM


I am very shocked and sad about Ted's sudden passing. I talked to him four days before and he seemed alright except that he had a flu and felt pressure in his body. I still can't believe he's gone, it's like a bad dream. I wish Ted would have been more recognized and recorded and I don't think he is replacable in any way. I had to play his arrangements at my gig on the day I heard of his passing which was overwhelming and emotional. Ted was not only imspiring with his music, he had a never ending interest in so many areas. Some people mine for gold but Ted spent his life mining for beauty. I always thought Ted was a gentle, cool, beautiful person and he will be greatly missed.

- Derek Soros, Vancouver BC
July 31, 2005 11:02 PM


I always will be grateful to you for what you did in jazz guitar education.

Stanislav, Kiev
August 01, 2005 1:24 AM


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