Hamish Imlach

Born 10 February 1940. Died 1 January 1996.

Biography

Hamish Imlach (10 February 1940 - 1 January 1996) was a folksinger. He was born in Calcutta but claimed to have been conceived in Glasgow, Scotland. Although his commercial success was limited, he influenced many other artists, including most notably John Martyn and Billy Connolly. In Central and Northern Europe Imlach enjoyed a strong reputation as a vivid live artist. Particularly in Scandinavia (Denmark) and Germany his live performances were much cherished.

He had his biggest hit in the late 1960s with "Cod Liver Oil and the Orange Juice," a scurrilous and hilarious take on the American gospel standard "Virgin Mary Had a Little Baby" written by Ron Clark and Carl MacDougall. The song was for a time banned by the BBC as it was assumed to be full of double meanings, but at one point became the most requested song on British Forces Radio.

He was described by Ewan McVicar, the Scottish storyteller and singer, as "a raconteur who taught Billy Connolly, a singer who taught Christy Moore, a blues guitarist who taught John Martyn". Imlach was invited to join the Irish trad and folk group The Dubliners. He was also an early anti-nuclear protestor and wrote and performed protest songs as well as comic ones. After recovering from a serious illness in the 1970s he regularly toured with Iain MacKintosh as well as doing solo tours. For the last 18 months of his professional life his stage partner was Kate Kramer, a Canadian fiddle player and singer living in Scotland, with whom he recorded his last CD, More and Merrier (1996).

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