Dave Swarbrick

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This article is about the folk musician. Dave Swarbrick_sentence_0

For the rugby player, see David Swarbrick. Dave Swarbrick_sentence_1

Dave Swarbrick_table_infobox_0

Dave SwarbrickDave Swarbrick_header_cell_0_0_0
Background informationDave Swarbrick_header_cell_0_1_0
Birth nameDave Swarbrick_header_cell_0_2_0 David Cyril Eric SwarbrickDave Swarbrick_cell_0_2_1
Also known asDave Swarbrick_header_cell_0_3_0 SwarbDave Swarbrick_cell_0_3_1
BornDave Swarbrick_header_cell_0_4_0 (1941-04-05)5 April 1941

New Malden, Surrey, EnglandDave Swarbrick_cell_0_4_1

DiedDave Swarbrick_header_cell_0_5_0 3 June 2016 (aged 75)

Aberystwyth, WalesDave Swarbrick_cell_0_5_1

GenresDave Swarbrick_header_cell_0_6_0 Dave Swarbrick_cell_0_6_1
Occupation(s)Dave Swarbrick_header_cell_0_7_0 Dave Swarbrick_cell_0_7_1
InstrumentsDave Swarbrick_header_cell_0_8_0 Dave Swarbrick_cell_0_8_1
Years activeDave Swarbrick_header_cell_0_9_0 1960s – 2016Dave Swarbrick_cell_0_9_1
LabelsDave Swarbrick_header_cell_0_10_0 Dave Swarbrick_cell_0_10_1
Associated actsDave Swarbrick_header_cell_0_11_0 Dave Swarbrick_cell_0_11_1

David Cyril Eric Swarbrick (5 April 1941 – 3 June 2016) was an English folk musician and singer-songwriter. Dave Swarbrick_sentence_2

He has been described by Ashley Hutchings as "the most influential [British] fiddle player bar none" and his style has been copied or developed by almost every British and many world folk violin players who have followed him. Dave Swarbrick_sentence_3

He was one of the most highly regarded musicians produced by the second British folk revival, contributing to some of the most important groups and projects of the 1960s, and he became a much sought-after session musician, which led him throughout his career to work with many of the major figures in folk and folk rock music. Dave Swarbrick_sentence_4

A member of Fairport Convention from 1969, he is credited with assisting them to produce their seminal album Liege & Lief (1969) which initiated the British folk rock movement. Dave Swarbrick_sentence_5

This, and his subsequent career, helped create greater interest in British traditional music and was highly influential within mainstream rock. Dave Swarbrick_sentence_6

After 1970 he emerged as Fairport Convention's leading figure and guided the band through a series of important albums until its disbandment in 1979. Dave Swarbrick_sentence_7

He also played in a series of smaller, acoustic units and engaged in solo projects. Dave Swarbrick_sentence_8

He maintained a massive output of recordings and a significant profile and made a major contribution to the interpretation of traditional British music. Dave Swarbrick_sentence_9

History Dave Swarbrick_section_0

Early career to 1968 Dave Swarbrick_section_1

Born in 1941 in New Malden, now in Greater London, his family moved to Linton, near Grassington, North Yorkshire, where he learned to play the violin. Dave Swarbrick_sentence_10

In the late 1940s the family moved to Birmingham, where he attended Birmingham College of Art (now absorbed into the Birmingham Institute of Art and Design) in the late 1950s, with the intention of becoming a printer. Dave Swarbrick_sentence_11

After winning a talent contest with his skiffle band playing guitar, he was introduced to Beryl and Roger Marriott, influential local folk musicians. Dave Swarbrick_sentence_12

The Marriotts took him under their wing and Beryl discovering that he had played the violin classically up until the skiffle craze, actively encouraged him to switch back to the fiddle and he joined the Beryl Marriott Ceilidh Band. Dave Swarbrick_sentence_13

He joined the Ian Campbell Folk Group in 1960 and embarked on his recording career, playing on one single, three EPs and seven albums with the group over the next few years. Dave Swarbrick_sentence_14

He contributed significantly to the BBC Radio Ballads series on recordings with the three most important figures in the British folk movement of the time A. Dave Swarbrick_sentence_15 L. Lloyd, Ewan MacColl, and MacColl's wife Peggy Seeger, as well as part of several collections to which the Ian Campbell Group contributed. Dave Swarbrick_sentence_16

From 1965 he began to work with Martin Carthy, supporting him on his eponymous first album. Dave Swarbrick_sentence_17

The association was such a success that the next recording, Second Album (1966), gave them equal billing. Dave Swarbrick_sentence_18

They produced another four highly regarded recordings between 1967 and 1968, including Byker Hill (1967), whose innovative arrangements of traditional songs made it one of the most influential folk albums of the decade. Dave Swarbrick_sentence_19

Swarbrick also played on albums by Julie Felix, A. L. Lloyd and on the radio ballads, and became perhaps the most highly regarded interpreter of traditional material on the violin and certainly one of the most sought-after session musicians. Dave Swarbrick_sentence_20

In 1967, Swarbrick released his first solo album Rags, Reels and Airs (Topic), with guests Martin Carthy and Diz Disley, which has since become a benchmark for generations of folk fiddlers. Dave Swarbrick_sentence_21

Session work and Fairport Convention in 1969–79 Dave Swarbrick_section_2

Originally, it was as a session musician that Swarbrick was called in by Joe Boyd, the manager of rising folk rock group Fairport Convention, in 1969, to undertake some overdubs on the Richard Thompson-penned track "Cajun Woman". Dave Swarbrick_sentence_22

Fairport had decided to play a traditional song "A Sailor's Life", which Swarbrick had previously recorded with Carthy in 1969, and he was asked to contribute violin to the session. Dave Swarbrick_sentence_23

The result was an eleven-minute mini-epic that appeared on the 1969 album Unhalfbricking and which marked out a new direction for the band. Dave Swarbrick_sentence_24

Subsequently, Swarbrick was asked to join the group and was the first fiddler on the folk scene to electrify the violin. Dave Swarbrick_sentence_25

Martin Carthy later recalled that Swarbrick had been indecisive about joining, telling Carthy: "I just played with this guy Richard [Thompson] and I want to play with him for the rest of my life." Dave Swarbrick_sentence_26

Together, now with Swarbrick co-writing with Richard Thompson "Crazy Man Michael", they created the groundbreaking album Liege & Lief (1969). Dave Swarbrick_sentence_27

His energetic and unique fiddle style was essential to the new sound and direction of the band, most marked on the medley of four jigs and reels that Swarbrick arranged for the album and which were to become an essential part of almost every subsequent Fairport performance. Dave Swarbrick_sentence_28

Before the album was released, key members of the band, founder Ashley Hutchings and singer, guitarist and songwriter Sandy Denny left, and Swarbrick stayed on with the band full-time, excited by the possibilities of performing traditional music in a rock context. Dave Swarbrick_sentence_29

His greater maturity, knowledge of folk song, reputation and personality meant that he soon emerged as the leading force in the band and continued to be so for the next decade, encouraging the band to bring in Dave Pegg, another graduate of the Ian Campbell Folk Group, on bass. Dave Swarbrick_sentence_30

However, Swarbrick was already beginning to suffer the hearing problems that would dog the rest of his career. Dave Swarbrick_sentence_31

The first album of this new line-up, Full House (1970), although not as commercially successful as Liege & Lief, sold relatively well, and remains highly regarded. Dave Swarbrick_sentence_32

Like Liege & Lief it contained interpretations of traditional tunes, including the epic "Sir Patrick Spens" and another instrumental arranged by Swarbrick, "Dirty Linen", but also contained songs jointly penned by Swarbrick and guitarist Richard Thompson, including what would become their opening live song "Walk Awhile", and the nine-minute long anti-war anthem "Sloth". Dave Swarbrick_sentence_33

The partnership produced another three songs on Full House. Dave Swarbrick_sentence_34

However, the fruitful collaboration was ended when Thompson departed the band soon after. Dave Swarbrick_sentence_35

The song "Sloth" has since been covered by other artists such as Plainsong and Nikki Sudden. Dave Swarbrick_sentence_36

After Swarbrick's death 2016, in poet Ian McMillan recalled how "his playing on Fairport Convention's "Sloth" broke my heart every time". Dave Swarbrick_sentence_37

As ex-Fairport Convention members embarked on their own careers, Swarbrick was often called upon to provide musical support, as he did for albums by Sandy Denny and Richard Thompson. Dave Swarbrick_sentence_38

He also played on some of the most significant folk albums of the era, including work by John Renbourn, Al Stewart and Peter Bellamy. Dave Swarbrick_sentence_39

In the second half of the 1970s, he began to release a series of solo albums. Dave Swarbrick_sentence_40

Without Thompson, Swarbrick shouldered even more responsibility for leadership, writing and singing and the result was a folk-rock opera album "Babbacombe" Lee, mostly written by Swarbrick (telling the true story of John Babbacombe Lee, a man convicted of murder and sentenced to hang. Dave Swarbrick_sentence_41

The scaffold apparatus failed three times and Lee survived to spend much of his life in penal servitude). Dave Swarbrick_sentence_42

The result gained the band some mainstream attention, including a BBC TV programme devoted to the work, but was a mixed artistic achievement, with critics noting the lack of variety in the album. Dave Swarbrick_sentence_43

When Simon Nicol quit the band in 1971, Swarbrick was the longest-standing member and responsible for keeping the group afloat through a bewildering series of line-up changes and problematic projects. Dave Swarbrick_sentence_44

The next album Rosie is chiefly notable for the title track, written by Swarbrick, which is perhaps the song most closely associated with him, but overall it was not a critical success. Dave Swarbrick_sentence_45

The following release, Nine (1974), relied heavily on the writing partnership between Swarbrick and new member Trevor Lucas, but it perhaps lacked the vitality of previous collaborations. Dave Swarbrick_sentence_46

The fortunes of the band rallied when Sandy Denny rejoined in 1974 and on the resulting album Rising for the Moon Swarbrick took more of a backseat in writing and singing. Dave Swarbrick_sentence_47

After Denny's final departure from the band, Swarbrick managed to steer it through three more studio albums, turning a solo project into a Fairport album Gottle O'Geer (1976) and two albums for Vertigo; The Bonny Bunch of Roses (1977) and Tipplers Tales (1978), which sold poorly, but have since been seen as containing some of Swarbrick's best fiddle work. Dave Swarbrick_sentence_48

However, all this was done amid financial and contractual difficulties and Swarbrick's hearing problems were becoming severe and were aggravated by amplified performances. Dave Swarbrick_sentence_49

In 1979 the band played a farewell concert in Cropredy, Oxfordshire and disbanded. Dave Swarbrick_sentence_50

Return to the folk circuit from 1980 Dave Swarbrick_section_3

Apart from occasional reunions, particularly at the Cropredy Festival, Swarbrick's performing career since 1980 focused on small venues and acoustic performances. Dave Swarbrick_sentence_51

His first project was a highly regarded duo with former Fairport guitarist Simon Nicol, which produced three albums. Dave Swarbrick_sentence_52

In 1984 Swarbrick decided to move to Scotland, while Nicol remained in Oxfordshire and the partnership dissolved. Dave Swarbrick_sentence_53

This also meant that he was unavailable when Fairport regrouped to record the album Gladys' Leap (1985). Dave Swarbrick_sentence_54

When the band re-formed in 1986 it did so without him, although he played with them on several occasions, particularly at the Cropredy Festival. Dave Swarbrick_sentence_55

By the time of the Fairport reformation Swarbrick was already occupied with his next project as part of a quartet under the name Whippersnapper, with the highly regarded musicians Martin Jenkins, Chris Leslie and Kevin Dempsey. Dave Swarbrick_sentence_56

The group produced four albums between 1985 and 1989. Dave Swarbrick_sentence_57

From this point Swarbrick left to renew his partnership with Martin Carthy, but after two albums: Life And Limb (1990) and Skin And Bone (1992), he emigrated to Australia. Dave Swarbrick_sentence_58

There he formed a new partnership with guitarist and singer-songwriter Alistair Hulett. Dave Swarbrick_sentence_59

They produced one album in Australia, Saturday Johnny and Jimmy The Rat (1996), and following Hulett and Swarbrick's return to the UK soon after, made two more; The Cold Grey Light of Dawn and Red Clydeside. Dave Swarbrick_sentence_60

In this period Swarbrick guested on projects with some of the most highly regarded figures in folk rock, including Steve Ashley, John Kirkpatrick and Bert Jansch, as well as continuing with solo work and recording and touring with Martin Carthy. Dave Swarbrick_sentence_61

He also guested with artists who were not folk musicians. Dave Swarbrick_sentence_62

In 1991 he toured with ex-Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band frontman Vivian Stanshall as part of Stanshall's return to the live stage in "Dog Ends". Dave Swarbrick_sentence_63

Health, premature obituary and return to performance Dave Swarbrick_section_4

For many years Swarbrick suffered steadily worsening health due to years of heavy smoking resulting in emphysema. Dave Swarbrick_sentence_64

There was considerable embarrassment for The Daily Telegraph newspaper when in April 1999 it published a premature obituary for Swarbrick after he was admitted to hospital with a chest infection. Dave Swarbrick_sentence_65

He commented, "It's not the first time I've died in Coventry." Dave Swarbrick_sentence_66

Dave and Christine Pegg launched SwarbAid, including a fund-raising concert at Birmingham's Symphony Hall in July 1999 and releasing a limited-edition 1999 live EP 'SwarbAid' with Fairport Convention in order to raise funds for Swarbrick whilst his poor health was preventing him from working. Dave Swarbrick_sentence_67

After another health relapse, they launched SwarbAid II, with a similar concert, in 2004. Dave Swarbrick_sentence_68

Swarbrick received a double lung transplant in October 2004 at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham and thereafter resumed his career with fervour, as a solo performer and annually on tour in the UK, every autumn, with Martin Carthy. Dave Swarbrick_sentence_69

Later work Dave Swarbrick_section_5

In 2006 Swarbrick resumed touring again with ex-Fairporter Maartin Allcock and Kevin Dempsey as Swarb's Lazarus, producing the album Live and Kicking (2006); and appearing at the Cropredy Festival. Dave Swarbrick_sentence_70

The band's name was chosen as a reference to the premature publishing of Swarbrick's obituary, by the Daily Telelgraph in 1999. Dave Swarbrick_sentence_71

On 10 August 2007, Swarbrick joined the 1969 Fairport Convention line-up at Cropredy with Chris While standing in for the late Sandy Denny, to perform the whole of the album Liege & Lief. Dave Swarbrick_sentence_72

Most notably, The Liege & Lief line-up plus Chris While had initially reformed to play at the BBC Radio 2 folk awards in the same year. Dave Swarbrick_sentence_73

Swarbrick's much lauded solo album Raison d'être (Shirty Records) was released in July 2010. Dave Swarbrick_sentence_74

In 2014 Swarbrick released a full-length album with the Canadian musician Jason Wilson entitled Lion Rampant. Dave Swarbrick_sentence_75

The critically acclaimed album included special guests Martin Carthy, Peggy Seeger, Pee Wee Ellis and John Kirkpatrick.. Dave Swarbrick_sentence_76

Working with the Jason Wilson Band, brought Swarbrick back playing with a significant big group again, contributing to gigs playing around Canada and the UK. Dave Swarbrick_sentence_77

British Folk music critic Ken Hunt described the album: "Head and shoulders, the most eclectic, catholic and coherent musical banquet of 2014 thus far." Dave Swarbrick_sentence_78

Their final studio album together; Kailyard Tales, was released on 12 January 2018. Dave Swarbrick_sentence_79

In April and May 2014, Swarbrick completed a 17-venue tour of the UK, supported by folk trio Said the Maiden at his personal request. Dave Swarbrick_sentence_80

The tour, organised by Helen Meisner of the Folkstock Foundation, of which Swarbrick was the patron, also featured at each venue young, up-coming folk artists, several of them from the Folkstock stable. Dave Swarbrick_sentence_81

The Autumn of 2015, saw the final UK tour for Swarbrick and Carthy. Dave Swarbrick_sentence_82

Death Dave Swarbrick_section_6

Swarbrick died on 3 June 2016, in hospital in Aberystwyth from pneumonia; The New York Times along with every newspaper in the UK, featured considerable obituaries, including a now valid second version from the Daily Telegraph. Dave Swarbrick_sentence_83

Personal life Dave Swarbrick_section_7

Swarbrick was married several times. Dave Swarbrick_sentence_84

He had three children, Emily, Alexander and Isobel, eight grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. Dave Swarbrick_sentence_85

His last marriage was to the painter Jill Swarbrick-Banks. Dave Swarbrick_sentence_86

They met in 1998 and married at Coventry Register Office the following year. Dave Swarbrick_sentence_87

They lived together in Mid-Wales until his death in June 2016. Dave Swarbrick_sentence_88

Awards Dave Swarbrick_section_8

In 2003, he was awarded a 'Gold Badge' by the English Folk Dance and Song Society and the 'Gold Badge of Merit' by the British Academy of Composers and Songwriters. Dave Swarbrick_sentence_89

In 2004 he was given a Lifetime Achievement Award at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards. Dave Swarbrick_sentence_90

At the 2006 Folk Awards he shared with current and past Fairport Convention members when they received an award when their seminal album Liege & Lief was voted 'Most Influential Folk Album of All Time' by Radio 2 listeners. Dave Swarbrick_sentence_91

At the 2007 awards Martin Carthy and Dave Swarbrick won the 'Best Duo' Award. Dave Swarbrick_sentence_92

At the 2012 Fatea Awards, Swarbrick was awarded The Life Time Achievement Award. Dave Swarbrick_sentence_93

Brief discography Dave Swarbrick_section_9

Main article: Dave Swarbrick discography Dave Swarbrick_sentence_94

Taking account of his early work with the Ian Campbell Folk Group, as well as with Ewan MacColl, A. Dave Swarbrick_sentence_95 L. Lloyd and Peggy Seeger, and including his work as a guest musician on the albums of many artists, Swarbrick can be credited with over 167 album appearances. Dave Swarbrick_sentence_96

With Fairport Convention Dave Swarbrick_section_10

See also: Fairport Convention discography Dave Swarbrick_sentence_97

With Martin Carthy Dave Swarbrick_section_11

Solo albums Dave Swarbrick_section_12

Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dave Swarbrick.