x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

One phone call that put guitarist on the road with Madonna

Monte Pittman was an aspiring musician when he got a call that eventually took him on tour with Madonna.

It is a typical Hollywood story; an aspiring musician leaving his hometown and heading for the bright lights to continue his burgeoning music career.

Retelling his story on the patio of Abu Dhabi's Yas Viceroy hotel yesterday morning, where he and the rest of Madonna's backing band are staying, the Texan Monte Pittman, 36, said he arrived in Los Angeles in 1999 with the hopes of forming a band and working on his collection of self-penned metal and acoustic tunes. He figured the best way to meet fellow musicians was to work in a music store selling guitars and becoming a guitar teacher. Then everything changed with one phone call.

"His name was Nathan, I think," Pittman recalls. "He said he wanted guitar lessons for his boss."

As it turned out, Nathan's boss was none other than the British film director Guy Ritchie, married to Madonna at the time.

Not long after, Pittman was giving lessons to Madonna herself, and a few months later, he was offered the slot of Madonna's tour guitarist.

"I don't try to think about it like that," he chuckles. "If I do, then I guess I'd freak out about it." Pittman has been the pop queen's axeman of choice since 2001's Drowned World Tour.

The MDNA Tour will be his eighth jaunt with Madonna.

"This is by far the biggest show a lot of us have ever been in," he says.

"I mean, this time around, Madonna is walking up the stage right to the sound board. It is really something."

He says rehearsals began in secret locations before Madonna's latest album was released, which meant listening to the songs under strict guard.

"It was me listening to the song on this one iPod and then the iPod goes back into this case and it being locked up," he recalls.

Pittman says Madonna will beshowing off the guitar skills he taught her.

"Those who saw her before will see how much she has evolved when it comes to playing," he says. "You rarely see that with other pop artists."


Ÿ For an extended interview with Pittman, visit arts&life online

* Saeed Saeed