Obituary: Jim Knight, folk musician, 63

Jim Knight would go anywhere there was a chance to play music
Jim Knight would go anywhere there was a chance to play music
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TRIBUTES have been paid to folk musician Jim Knight, who has died aged 63.

The father of two was known for his ability to get a tune out of any instrument with strings, though guitar was his first and enduring love.

Daughter Carol Cullen said: “On his 63rd birthday in December, he was talking about buying his first guitar on his 13th birthday. So in real terms, he’s been playing the guitar for half a century.”

Favouring intimate venues around Edinburgh, he regularly performed in the Grassmarket, the Edinburgh Folk Club, and the Haddington and Newton Grange folk clubs.

“He got around,” friend and fellow musician Peter Gillan remembered. “He had no qualms about going anywhere if there was a chance to play music. We’d meet at the Royal Oak because it was open until three or four in the morning.”

Mr Gillan said that in spite of late hours, Mr Knight’s love of music kept a rock and roll lifestyle at bay.

“It wasn’t wild,” he said. “He’d be involved in playing all night. You can’t sing and drink, so he had to stay sober . . . ish! You’d say you were tired and a few minutes later he’d start playing again.”

Despite Mr Knight’s great talent, he was, according to Mr Gillan, “always willing to share the spotlight. He encouraged and convinced the young people to play”.

He organised folk sessions where he inspired first-time performers and would include open mic sections in his own gigs.

His musical abilities have passed down to his granddaughter Madeline Cullen, as well as his daughters Siobhan and Carol, who said: “He very much encouraged us. Both Siobhan and I sing. My daughter Maddie, she plays her pop’s guitar now. She sang in public for the first time very recently and we didn’t realise we had such a wee treasure. She sang for my dad and it blew him away. He encouraged her greatly.”

Ms Cullen described him as “an extremely gregarious person”. She added: “He just loved people. He hated being in the house. The Ship Inn was his second home.

“He was very fond of it and everyone who drank and worked there.”

He kept up his passion in Musselburgh, where he settled later in his life. A swansong party was held in August after he was diagnosed with lung cancer, and with strength that friends put down to his singer’s lungs he watched as friends and family sang in celebration of his life.

His daughter Ms Cullen said his funeral shows he was “a good old-fashioned hippy at heart”.

She added: “He was mad into recycling. He wanted a cardboard casket. His really important thing was to have a tree, so we have a silver birch. All the music at the funeral will be stuff he’s performed or written.”

Fellow musician David Stewart said there would be a huge turnout. “There are people coming from all over.”