She was the axe-wielding, peroxide blonde who cut a striking figure on all three of Michael Jackson’s legendary world tours, subsequently playing alongside the one and only Jeff Beck.
Revered guitarist Jennifer Batten may have finished touring, but her immense contribution to music -twenty years playing alongside two of the world’s most iconic artists – remains the stuff of legends.
Warm and full of wit, Jennifer discussed her illustrious recording career – including her time with Michael Jackson and Jeff Beck – in great depth during a recent visit to BIMM Brighton.
“He was a creative tornado; he was constantly creating things,” she said of the late superstar, with whom she worked with between 1987 and 1997.
On Michael’s work ethic, Jennifer revealed how he would make the band rehearse as much as physically possible and how he never once raised his voice in the ten years she worked with him.
Jennifer also touched briefly on Michael’s rivalry with Prince and hinted that it might’ve led to her own inclusion in the band. “Prince had females in his band, so I think that’s why Michael wanted me,” she told the audience.
After spending ten years with the King of Pop, Jennifer was invited to play the guitar for ex-Yardbird Jeff Beck, later appearing on two albums: ‘Who Else!’ and ‘You Had It Coming’, as well as several high-profile tours.
Speaking about Beck’s unrivalled skill and speed, Jennifer joked that Jeff’s unique playing was not the result of an amp or a pedal, but simply down to the fact that he was born with “magic hands”.
Few would disagree that Jennifer is a powerful female role model. However, she admits she didn’t have any strong female role models to lean on for herself when starting out – an admission which surprised our crowd, including our Head of Songwriting Dani Wilde.
“The thought never even crossed her mind, she explained: “Being a female in the music industry wasn’t a weird thing to me. I never had female role models particularly, but I didn’t see that as odd.”
The masterclass ended with a few valuable words of advice around practice and the importance of honing your craft:
“Rehearse to the point where it becomes second nature,” she urged. “Just play. Get better and keep an open mind.”
What a treat it was to host Jennifer at BIMM Brighton. Her insightful words, anecdotes and experience as a musician are beyond inspirational. Our students were fortunate to hear Jennifer speak first-hand!