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Steve Knightley is an English singer, songwriter and acoustic musician. Since 1992 he has been one half of possibly the UK’s most successful Folk/Roots duos - ‘Show of Hands’. His partner Phil Beer is widely regarded as one of the world’s finest acoustic multi-instrumentalists. Knightley was born in Southampton in 1954 of English, Irish and Scottish descent. His grandfathers were both soldiers and his grandmothers were from Limavady in Northern Ireland and Annan in the Borders. When he was five his family moved to Exeter where he attended Central school, John Stocker Juniors and Hele’s grammar school. At thirteen the family moved again to nearby Exmouth. Apart from spells away in Coventry, Brighton, London and rural Dorset he still remains a resident of East Devon where he lives with his wife Clare - a local GP - and their three children.
At fourteen he began playing acoustic guitar at Exmouth school. It was there he met long-time friend and musical collaborator Paul Downes. Knightley was attracted to folk music after hearing his older step-brothers Joan Baez records. Together with Downes they began playing songs from the ‘Penguin Book of English Folk Songs’. The two of them were also drawn to the repertoire of Martin Carthy and Dave Swarbrick after seeing them in concert at the Sidmouth Folk Festival. In 1970 they formed the trio ‘Gawain’ and, along with fiddler John ‘Bat’ Evans, were regulars on the thriving Devon folk scene for three years or so, meeting Phil Beer in the process. Downes then left for Brighton where he formed a professional partnership with Beer, touring solidly for the next seven years. By now Knightley had moved to Coventry where he both studied Politics and History at the Lanchester Polytechnic and started and played at a thriving folk club. Downes and Beer were constant visitors to the City and began playing the songs that by now Knightley was beginning to pen. He then completed a postgraduate certificate in education at Sussex...