Jonny hits a high note with his musical prowess on three instruments

Written by Gerald Isaaman on .

Three exams for three different musical instruments – guitar, piano and saxophone -- and three distinctions.

So, at 13, Jonny Budd is undoubtedly top of the class at St John’s School, Marlborough, an admired performer with his own and other bands, and now due to play at next month’s Marlborough International Jazz Festival.

Yet his musical enterprise began almost casually when he picked up the guitar his marketing consultant father, Ben Budd, played occasionally at their home in Ramsbury and strummed it.

“I think I was nine or 10,” he recalls. “My dad used to play it about once a month but he didn’t get stuck into music as I did and took lessons. And I went on from playing rock – people like Jimmi Hendrix, Slash from Guns and Roses – to taking it seriously.”

So seriously that while at Ramsbury Primary School he teamed up with four friends to form The Demented with his sister, Luci, now 16, providing the vocals, and progressed further by learning to play the alto saxophone and the piano.

Two years ago he took part in a summer school run by the International Guitar Foundation in Bath, which resulted in him being presented with a £700 electric guitar as the most improved student of the week, to which he has now added his Grade 8 exam distinction.

That is the instrument he plays with the Marlborough Youth Jazz Orchestra, destined to perform at the Jazz Festival on July 17, and he will be playing twice at the Royal British Legion Party on The Hill on July 23, first with the Youth Jazz Orchestra and then with The Demented.

This too is a major event being headlined by The Wurzels, the chart toppers from the 70s.

Jonny is now more into jazz than rock, though he enjoys listening to classical guitar masters like Segovia and plays classical pieces himself.

“Kids these days don’t seem to be inspired by rock music any more,” he says. “It isn’t as inspiring as it used to be. They prefer electronic music that’s made on computers.”

But that doesn’t attract Jonny. “You’ve always got to put feeling into whatever you’re playing,” he insists. “All the great musicians do that. Otherwise it’s going to sound a bit fake.”

And Jonny, as his fans agree, is no fake.