Obituary: Ian Hardie, folk musician, 59

Ian Hardie was one of modern Scottish folk music's leading figures
Ian Hardie was one of modern Scottish folk music's leading figures
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Tributes have been paid to Ian Hardie, one of Scotland’s best-known folk musicians, who died last week at the age of 59.

A popular figure at Sandy Bell’s, in Forrest Road, Ian performed at nightly sessions there in the 1970s and later featured on an acclaimed album of recordings with the pub’s ceilidh band.

Born in the Capital in November 1962, Ian’s musical prowess was evident from an early age when, as a six-year-old, he began taking classical violin lessons.

In his mid-teens, he became attracted to traditional music and, as a law student at Edinburgh University in the 1970s, put this interest into action at Sandy Bell’s, where he became a stalwart.

Ian went on to become one of modern Scottish folk music’s leading figures – particularly as a member of the band Jock Tamson’s Bairns, who released a self-titled album in 1980.

The album marked the assertion of a contemporary and distinctively Scottish folk sound, and was also the beginning of a musical relationship that culminated in the release of feted album The Lasses Fashion – later named by singer-songwriter Richard Thompson in Q Magazine as one of the ten greatest records of all time.

Ian’s performing career took a back seat after he moved to the Scottish Borders and worked as a lawyer, although he composed dozens of traditional songs.

Maintaining contact with folk music in this way meant Ian was able to return to recording later in the 1980s, putting out a solo album, A Breath of Fresh Airs, which he followed with A Breath of Fresher Airs in 1992. A duo album called The Spider’s Web, produced with pianist Andy Thorburn, followed in 1998.

Throughout his life, Ian was renowned as a player of both the fiddle and small pipes, as well as the viola and double bass.

His versatility led to partnerships with musicians up and down the land – from Isla St Clair and Margaret Stewart to piper Hamish Moore and erstwhile bandmates from Jock Tamson’s Bairns.

Companions who knew Ian from his days at Sandy Bell’s paid tribute to his character and musicianship.

Michael Wiedenhof, 47, manager at Sandy Bell’s and a bar worker there in the 1970s, said: “I remember the fiddler Derek Hoy was looking for a replacement fiddler for the band he was in and Ian was the one he suggested. But, at that point, I don’t think he had ever actually played a traditional tune before.

“Derek took him away and let him see the music. At the end of the week, the band had a gig and Ian just strolled through the set – it was dozens of tunes. He was a really excellent musician and he was very pleasant and friendly – always open to other folk.”

Ian is survived by his wife, Viv, and children Andrew and Fiona.