Obituary: Charlie Strachan, folk singer, 80

Charlie Strachan, as seen on the cover of his 2007 CD
Charlie Strachan, as seen on the cover of his 2007 CD
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TRIBUTES have been paid to Charlie Strachan, a respected singer on the folk circuit, who has died aged 80.

Described as “feisty”, Mr Strachan, was a stalwart of the session scene, and was well known at Edinburgh’s Royal Oak and The Tass on the high street.

He was perhaps best known in West Lothian. where he sang regularly at the Nitten Folk club, Penicuik folk club and at Loanhead and Linlithgow Folk Festivals.

When Mr Strachan returned from two years’ post-war national service he worked at his mother’s salon in Dalkeith and was a hairdresser throughout his life.

He was a keen player of badminton, coaching youngsters in the sport in Dalkeith throughout the 1970s, as well as entering several competitions with his wife Barbara. When she died in 1981 he took up singing.

His daughter, Gillian Hogg, said: “Before that Dad would sing to us kids at home, but he really loved to dance.

“They would go to supper dances together, but when she died he couldn’t do that anymore. He took to the pubs and started singing.”

Nitten Folk convenor Ian Duncan remembered Mr Strachan fondly.

“He’s been a regular with us for years,” he said. “In fact he was a member before I joined, and he seldom missed a session.

“He had so many songs that everyone who listened had a different favourite. Mine was Star of the Bar”

The song, by local songwriter Davie Robertson, was for years Mr Strachan’s trademark goodnight song.

Mr Duncan said: “Charlie sang unaccompanied. He really objected to anyone trying to accompany him. If anyone picked up their guitar he would get quite grumpy about it!”

Close friend and fellow singer Alison Gilroy agreed: “He was feisty! It wasn’t that he didn’t like music. He appreciated good fiddle playing and guitar playing, just not under him.

“He was very much a traditional singer. One singer, one song. Most of his closest friends passed away over the last few years”

Mr Strachan converted a transit van into a camper, which he used to travel to music festivals all over the UK.

Mrs Hogg said: “The big one was Fleetwood Fylde [in Lancashire]. Dad loved singing there. This year is their 40th anniversary so it’s a shame he won’t be there.”

Mr Strachan passed away on Thursday morning from a recently diagnosed cancer. His funeral will take place at on Wednesday, May 16, at Mortonhall Crematorium, starting at 1pm.

The family had considered placing him in his camper van but have opted for a traditional hearse. “We’ve all got camper vans thanks to my dad.” Mrs Hogg said. “There’ll be a cortege of them.”

Mr Strachan released one CD, which the family are hoping to re-release in aid of cancer charities. He is survived by his children Gillian, Ruth and Ian.