Real Lives: Musical tribute to a King of the jazz and folk scene

Iain King devoted his life to making and inspiring great music
Iain King devoted his life to making and inspiring great music
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THE life and work of respected Leith musician Iain King is to be celebrated at a special concert tonight.

The tribute evening to Mr King, who died in November, is being held as part of Edinburgh’s Ceilidh Culture festival, and will raise money for several local charities.

A virtuoso at jazz guitar, jazz fiddle and traditional Scots fiddle, he played guitar at Ronnie Scott’s club and The Savoy at the height of London’s Jazz scene in the 60s. It was during this time he played guitar with Scottish Jazz legend Alex Shaw.

He married his wife Kath in 1964, and the couple had one son, David, and four grandchildren.

On his return to Edinburgh, he regularly played with various big bands at The Palladium, at Fountainbridge, when they had a revolving stage.

He later played fiddle with Scots’ fiddle legend, Hector McAndrew, as well as Andy Bathgate’s famous fiddle-led Cavendish band and then stints with Lindsay Ross, Bobby Crowe and The Auld Reekie Scottish Dance Band.

In recent years, he was playing fiddle regularly with ceilidh band, The Canongait Cadjers, folk band Pictism and folk-rock fusion outfit Jacob’s Pillow, with whom he made some of his final recordings last year.

He also ran workshops in jazz and traditional fiddle at Edinburgh’s Fiddle Festival, and was still teaching guitar and fiddle up until his last days.

The line-up for the tribute concert includes Robert Black, the current Scottish accordion champion Harry Thompson, and various performers, past and present, from the Taste of Scotland show.

There will also be a ceilidh led by the Canongate Cadjers Ceilidh Band. In addition, members of Jacob’s Pillow will be playing some of the last tunes that Mr King wrote.

Tam Ferguson, joint organiser of the concert, said: “Iain was a much-loved and highly skilled folk and jazz violinist and guitarist, and led a life that was marked by his passion and commitment to music.

“He lived in London during the height of the jazz scene in the 1960s and even performed for The Queen.

“He also played in big-band performances at the old Palladium in Stockbridge.

“Iain’s modesty and enthusiasm for music inspired everyone he worked with at all levels.

“We wanted to have a concert in order to pay our respects to a great man and to ensure that his music lives on.

“We would like to invite anyone who knew him or worked with him to come along and enjoy what should be a fantastic evening.”

• Ceilidh Culture – Iain King Tribute Evening, will be held tonight at the Edinburgh Masonic Lodge, 1 Shrub Place Lane, Leith Walk, at 8.30pm. Tickets are £3, with all proceeds donated to local charities in Mr King’s memory.