Happy Canada Day! Today’s featured artist is Canadian rock guitarist and singer Ian Thornley! Born July 21st 1972, he is best known for his band Big Wreck, as well as Thornley, his solo project during the 2000s.

Born and raised in Toronto, Ontario, Thornley studied jazz music at Boston’s Berklee College of Music in the 1990s, and formed the band Big Wreck in 1993. They soon relocated from Boston to Toronto and eventually signed a US record deal with Atlantic Records. Their 1997 debut album, “In Loving Memory Of…”, was a significant hit that year on rock radio in both Canada and the United States. Big Wreck released a follow-up in 2001 called “The Pleasure and the Greed”, but went on to break up in 2002.

Thornley subsequently returned to Toronto, where he played as a session musician on albums by Nickelback, Sarah Harmer and Stephen Fearing before launching a new band, Thornley, who released their first album, “Come Again”, in 2004. The follow-up record, “Tiny Pictures”, was released in Canada in February 2009. In 2010, the lineup for the band Thornley merged into the reformed Big Wreck. Since then Big Wreck has released four records, with the latest one, “…but for the sun” being released in 2019. 

He has been using guitars by Suhr for the last several years, and after playing the Classic JM prototype, he got his own signature model. It features a custom Ian Thornley “V” back neck, jumbo stainless frets, matching painted headstock, HSH pickup configuration, series/parallel switching on the pickups and a choice of tremolo or hardtail bridge.

Thornley also auditioned with Velvet Revolver for the position of their lead singer. However, this did not materialize as he did not feel comfortable being a lead singer without playing guitar, and the band eventually chose Scott Weiland as their lead singer.

Check below for a live version of Big Wreck’s hit “Ladylike”, and head to our blog for a tab of how to play the main riff! Watch out for the tuning on this advanced-level riff – it’s half step tuning combined with drop D, which is Db, Ab, Db, Gb, Bb, Bb, Eb.

What are your favourite Big Wreck or Thornley songs? Ian and his different bands or solo projects have performed in Ottawa a number of times – have you had the pleasure of seeing them? We’re currently offering Video Conference lessons if you’d like to learn about the ongoing history of music with a professional!

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