Gary Flockhart: Goodbye to a genuine music great

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I WAS saddened to hear of the death of Bert Jansch, the folk-guitar pioneer whose influence on a host of better known musicians eclipsed his own fame.

I had the pleasure of interviewing the Glasgow-born, Edinburgh-raised songwriter ahead of his three-night stint at the Acoustic Music Centre in 2008.

Having gone through the official channels to request an interview, I was told he wasn’t available. Undeterred, I remembered that a friend knew him during his time in Edinburgh and cheekily asked if he had a contact. As luck would have it, he did.

Expecting to be given short shrift (cold calling a legend is generally a no-no), I gave Jansch a ring at his garden flat in North London. The nature of the call took a moment to register with Jansch, but once it was established that I was calling on behalf of the Evening News - a paper he used to read every day - he said that he’d be happy to do the interview.

“How’s the weather up there?” he enquired. “Pouring down I bet.”

Among other things, we talked about the influence he’s had on younger players like Devendra Banhart and Pete Doherty - though understandably for one who had long counted the likes of Jimmy Page and Neil Young among his devotees, he was fairly non-plussed. “I suppose it’s quite nice,” he said. “But it doesn’t change the way I go about my business.”

At the end of the interview I asked Jansch if he had any ambitions that he still wanted to fulfil. “Oh there’s plenty life in me yet,” he laughed. “But mainly, I just want to keep going as long as I can.”