It’s time we sung praises of our talented folk scene

Bert Jansch, who died yesterday, was hailed by famous names such as Jimmy Page and Neil Young
Bert Jansch, who died yesterday, was hailed by famous names such as Jimmy Page and Neil Young
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EDINBURGH should use the passing of one of its most talented musicians to mark its place in folk music history, it has been suggested.

Bert Jansch, the iconic folk guitarist and member of the band Pentangle, died yesterday at the age of 67 after a battle with cancer.

Although born in Glasgow, he moved to the Capital as a toddler with his mother, and remained here until leaving to further his career in London. He attended Pennywell primary and Ainslie Park secondary.

Now calls have been made for his life and the influence of the Edinburgh folk scene to be recognised.

Leith councillor and folk music enthusiast Gordon Munro said: “I think there has to be a recognition of that folk scene he came out of and the people it influenced. Places like Sandy Bell’s and the Bedlam, it’s easy to let these things pass without noting them.

“In Scotland we are not very good sometimes at recognising our own and, unfortunately, it takes someone’s passing to make us see that.

“I remember seeing Jimmy Page being full of admiration for him, and that was right at the height of Led Zeppelin’s fame. I couldn’t believe he was just talking about a wee laddie from Edinburgh.”

It did not take long for Jansch to make an impression on the global music scene after leaving the Capital in his teens.

His first album, recorded in 1965, was sold for only £100 because Jansch was “broke” and it was the best deal he could find. By the time his last record was released, Black Swan in 2006, he had been cited as a key influence by names as famous as Neil Young.

He was a main part of the cult group Pentangle, which had a turbulent yet well-loved existence. After they split, Jansch became a revered solo artist in his own right. In November 2007, he was given an honorary doctorate by Edinburgh Napier University in recognition of his local roots and his lifelong contribution to music.

Graham Weir, head of music at the university, said: “Bert Jansch had an incredible influence as a musician over many decades. To meet him in person, you’d never have known. He was modest, and self-effacing, a normal guy from West Pilton who happened to have a unique creative gift.

“He was a great friend to the university, supporting students and taking a real interest in their progress.”

He had been due to play in the Capital in August, but the show had to be cancelled due to ill health.

Tributes to Jansch also appeared in social networking site Twitter. By early afternoon, his name was the most discussed issue on the site in the whole of the UK.

amorris@edinburghnews.com