Saturday, March 28, 2015

SAD NOTE

Guitarist and songwriter John Renbourn, founder of Pentangle, dies 



The English guitarist and songwriter John Renbourn has died aged 70 at his home in Hawick in the Scottish Borders. Best known for his work with the folk group Pentangle, he had been on tour with the guitarist and singer Wizz Jones.Renbourn was due to play at the Ferry in Glasgow on Wednesday night but colleagues became concerned when he failed to turn up. Police found him at his home on Thursday morning, 26 March, where it is thought he had died from a heart attack. Renbourn’s manager, Dave Smith, who worked with him for about 25 years, described him as a “delight”. “He was just larger than life. Game for anything. He was just finishing off a tour with Wizz Jones – and was looking forward to the next. He was a great teacher – he was always putting himself down as a teacher and running weekend workshops all over Europe, where he would have students come and learn from him.”

Smith added that Renbourn would probably be best remembered for his work with the folk band Pentangle, which he formed with fellow musicians including the guitarist Bert Jansch, who died in 2011. “Obviously that was what brought him into prominence,” said Smith. “But his solo career has been a continuous thing. It never got large because it’s very specialist music, but he’s had an international fan base because of his influential playing style.

”Among those paying tributes to London-born Renbourn was the DJ Cerys Matthews, who said: “So sorry and sad to hear of John Renbourn’s passing. A loving, lovely man. RIP John, it was an honour and pleasure meeting you.” 

Novelist Ian Rankin tweeted: “Ach, and now John Renbourn has died. What a guitarist...” 

He described growing up in a musical house: “My family all played something ... there’s a picture of me when I was about five playing on the banjo, so I went through all kids of stuff, all sorts of music. It was just in the early 60s that I was faced with the terrible dilemma of having to get a job, and finding myself preferring to travel and play.”

Renbourn had an unusual technique whereby he used three fingers on the right and a thumb to the guitar, with filed down pieces of ping pong balls stuck on as artificial nails.

“People tell me I’m living in the dark ages, I’m scorned for using these old ping pong balls,” he told Matthews. “But they work, there’s nothing too much wrong with them - apart from the fact that they’re flammable.”

He did admit that they occasionally fell off. “The Pentangle came out of retirement and we were playing a very big show at the Barbican, and as I was playing, one fell off. I was clever and I had some superglue with me and another one under the chair... I stuck it on, but I didn’t know if the glue was coming out or not, so I bit the top of the superglue, and I stuck my lips together.”

In 2007, the original members of the Pentangle were reunited to receive a lifetime achievement award at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards. Renbourn was also awarded the lifetime achievement award at the Ards Guitar Festival.

Renbourn leaves two sons and a daughter.

6 comments:

beetor said...

Nice write up. Basket of Light was my favourite album as a baby in the eary '70s. I still have my mum's old vinyl record now. Beautiful music, that still sounds great now. The modern band Espers sound very similar.

Yojik said...

Sad news. May he rest in peace.

Anonymous said...

Sad day for the music.

cosmearce said...

Hasta siempre, John. Desde hoy no es lo mismo pasar bajo la hoja del muerdago.

Freg said...

R,I,P., John. Thanks for everything.

Anonymous said...

A great talent. Faro Annie is his finest album IMHO.

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