Folk musician Bert Jansch dies aged 67

Bert Jansch in 2007 Jansch's last solo album, The Black Swan, was released in 2007

Scottish folk musician Bert Jansch, a founding member of the band Pentangle and a well-known guitarist in his own right, has died at the age of 67.

Jansch, who had cancer, passed away in the early hours of Wednesday morning at a hospice in Hampstead, north London.

Born in Glasgow in 1943, the musician recorded his first album in 1965 and his last, The Black Swan, in 2006.

Between 1967 and 1973 he was part of acoustic group Pentangle, best known for their 1970 hit single Light Flight.

John Renbourn, Jacqui McShee, Danny Thompson and Terry Cox were the other original members of the band, whose albums included Basket of Light and Solomon's Seal.

The group reformed in 2008 after receiving a lifetime achievement honour the previous year at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards.

As a solo artist, Jansch received his own lifetime achievement accolade at the same event in 2001.

He last performed, with Pentangle, at the Royal Festival Hall on 1 August.

A scheduled solo show at the Edinburgh Festival later that month was cancelled due to the singer's ill health.

Pentangle singer McShee said Jansch "never complained throughout his illness".

"I saw him last Friday and it was tragic," she told BBC Four's The World.

"He recovered from his cancer last year and I thought this was it. We even made plans for the future, for new material and music.

"He will be so missed. We've got his music but I shall miss him as a friend."

Speaking to The Guardian last year, Jansch - who is survived by his wife Loren - said he was "not one for showing off".

But he admitted that his guitar-playing "sticks out" - a skill that once prompted Neil Young to put him on the same level as Jimi Hendrix.

Booking agent John Barrow, who helped the musician stage shows throughout his career, said he would remember Jansch as a "hard-working musician" and "a great man".

"He was very quietly spoken," he told the BBC. "People used to say to me, 'he doesn't talk much, does he?' But when he could play the guitar like that, why should he be talking?"

The Smiths former guitarist Johnny Marr also paid tribute, calling him "a leader of his generation".

"He really was the king of the beatnik troubadours and no one ever tried to usurp that," he told BBC 6 Music.

"As a person he exuded a secret wisdom. Getting to play with him...was an absolute privilege."

Blur guitarist Graham Coxon called Jansch a "flawless guitar player" and a "no frills, staunch fellow with nothing to prove to anyone."

"He was top of the pile whether he thought so or not."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 38.

    I'll add my voice to those saying how nice and approachable Bert was. We'd recorded him at Cambridge for BBC overseas services and months later I was crossing a pub bar when he recognised me (who he'd met once!) and called me over to buy me a drink and chat. Now Bert's gone, ... and Davey ... who is left to play Anji but their vinyl echoes.

  • rate this

    Comment number 29.

    I am glad that I was introduced to Jansch's guitar playing at an early age. Wonderful to hear. Just a quick comment to those who mentioned Anji - this is a Davey Graham tune that was immediately popular in the burgeoning folk clubs in the 60's. Paul Simon does an excellent version, too. I remember Ralph McTell being quoted as saying if you couldn't play Anji well, you couldn't get in to the clubs!

  • rate this

    Comment number 26.

    This is desperately sad news. Bert's songs are some of the most haunting and sensitive lyrics ever written, while his guitar playing was pure genius. His interpretation of traditional tunes was inspired - who could forget Blackwaterside? He will be sadly missed by several generations of musicians and followers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    Really sad to hear this. He was a one off, a phenomenon, who took folk and blues to a really new place. I too was lucky enough to see him and will be digging out a couple of albums to play.

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    Very very sad to hear the passing away of Bert Jansch. Very glad I saw him over the years from early Pentagle dates to the re-union concerts, plus his solo gigs. His playing especially with John Renbourn was a pure delight and inspiration to me and the new breed such as Johnny Marr and Bernard Butler. I found him aquiet but approachable man who was glad to sign my vinyl albums. He is sadly missed


Comments 5 of 7


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