Many of Bert’s closest friends and musical collaborators have joined the Foundation as Patrons, Associates and Trustees. Here are some of them and what they say about Bert.
Known for his virtuoso guitar style and great storytelling, Ralph McTell is now celebrating more than 40 years on the road. “Streets of London” earned him an Ivor Novello Award in 1974 and in 2002 he won a Lifetime Achievement Award at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards.
“Bert’s vocal sound was completely unique. He sang out boldly with no affectation. He said that his biggest influences were Archie Fisher and Davy Graham, and this fusion of styles gave rise to his unique approach. I have cherished my quiet friendship with Bert for more than forty years.”
On the folk scene since the early 1960s, Jacqui was Pentangle’s lead singer and has performed in subsequent incarnations of the band, including 1980s line-ups.
“Bert spoke through his songs, with a passion, love and thoughtfulness that he could never express in person. I miss him every day.”
Anne Briggs was a bridge between the traditional folk revivalists and the contemporary scene epitomised by Les Cousins in the 1960s. She taught Bert many traditional songs, notably “Blackwaterside”. Anne and Bert co-wrote three songs including “Go Your Way My Love”, which appeared on Bert’s 1967 album Nicola. Anne has largely eschewed the limelight, although her few recordings are considered classics.
“Simply, I think Bert was a truly unique musician. Somehow he could elegantly bridge differing musical and singing traditions to sing and play in a way that sounded only like Bert Jansch.”
Singer, songwriter and ‘folktronica’ trailblazer, Beth Orton won a BRIT Award for Best British Female Artist in 2000 and has had two albums nominated for the Mercury Prize. She credits her guitar lessons from Bert for inspiring a new musical direction. She guested on Bert’s The Black Swan and several live shows.
“I am honoured to be able to have called Bert Jansch a teacher. I loved to sing with Bert, his timing is legendary as a guitarist, but also as a singer, and his grit and wisdom up close like that was mind-altering.”
Bernard Butler guested on Bert’s Crimson Moon and Edge of a Dream albums and played live with Bert at many shows including the 60th Birthday Session filmed by the BBC, Somerset House Summer Series and on Jools Holland’s Later along with Johnny Marr.
“When most people were just breathing, Bert was playing guitar. That sound really was his whole life; the vibrations of the strings were life-giving. The notes were like words and the whole sound a conversation.”
Beverley Martyn fronted The Levee Breakers as a teenager, around the time she first met Bert. She has worked with Simon and Garfunkel, Nick Drake, Jimmy Page, John Renbourn, Ralph McTell, Davy Graham, and Sandy Denny.
“Bert wrote most of the songs for his album It Don’t Bother Me, while we were together. He taught me to play the guitar properly and gave me a lot of his time. Thanks to him, I broken-heartedly wrote my first song ‘Sweet Joy’.”
Since his first release in 1968, Gordon has recorded over 25 studio albums, one of them Janschology, a tribute to his friend. His now classic instrumental “Heartsong” was nominated for an Ivor Novello award.
“The first time I saw Bert live in 1965, I was awestruck by his virtuosity and enigmatic stage presence. His debut album, full of dark haunting beauty, had a profound and life changing effect on me and my music.”
Most famous as founder-guitarist in Blur, Graham launched his solo career in 1998 which has showcased in his increasing interest in fingerstyle acoustic guitar. He shared a bill with Bert at the Royal Festival Hall in 2003 and met Bert and Davy Graham at their joint gig in 2005, and was over-awed on both occasions.
“I will never stop learning from Bert Jansch. His records have proved to be a great gift to everyone and for me they are also an education and a well of inspiration.”
Paul collaborated on Bert Jansch’s last two albums, Edge of A Dream in a sparkling guitar duet called “Black Cat Blues” which featured on the soundtrack of the film Calendar Girls, and The Black Swan. Paul’s debut album features guest appearances from Bert Jansch and Eric Clapton, the only time they performed together.
“Bert was always very encouraging and in his understated way, badgered me to write, sing and front my own music. It was a privilege to regularly jam with him at home, and it was an honour and a joy to be asked by Bert to play live with him.”
Robin & Bina Williamson
Born in the same month, Robin Williamson and Bert became leading lights of the Edinburgh folk scene (where they were flatmates) in the early 1960s, and then London, where Robin formed The Incredible String Band. A most prolific and diverse songwriter, Robin has made numerous records over his 50 year career. He continues to tour internationally solo and as a duo with his wife, singer multi-instrumentalist, Bina Williamson.
“I’ve always been a friend of Bert’s and he’s always been a friend of mine”
As well as a long solo career, Steve has recorded with John Renbourn’s Ship of Fools and Maggie Boyle among others, and composes for film and television. He played mandolin and arpeggione on Bert’s 1990 album The Ornament Tree.
“Bert was the first British singer/songwriter/guitarist. His playing was already fully formed and unmistakably his own. His music was an inspiration and an education, invaluable in helping me find my own musical path.”
Terry played drums and percussion with Pentangle and also drummed for many other artists throughout the 1960s and 1970s, most notably David Bowie and Elton John. He was drummer for Charles Aznavour from 1974 until 1982. Terry now lives in Menorca with his wife Jill. He is still actively involved in his music and composes in the garden shed.
“I don’t think I ever saw Bert without a guitar in his hands, they must have been joined at the hip (or fingers in this case). The word ‘genius’ is bandied about to someone who happened to have a one off hit. In Bert’s case he deserved his status, his songwriting alone was prolific. I was always fascinated by his playing and singing. “
Inspired by American blues and folk recordings, Wizz Jones learnt his guitar licks from the likes of Davy Graham and Long John Baldry playing the coffee bars of Soho in the late 1950s. Name-checked by John Renbourn, Eric Clapton and Keith Richards as an important early influence, Wizz is one of the few guitarists that Bert called an inspiration. Wizz continues to tour after more than 50 years ‘on the road’.
“I first met Bert in the early 1960s, a player with incredible stage charisma with a dazzling guitar technique and brilliant new original songs. I’ll always remember his great generosity of spirit and will continue to be inspired by his timeless body of work.”
John Barrow had already been very active since about 1965 running festivals, clubs, and concerts in Edinburgh before setting up Stoneyport Agency in 1987, now known as Stoneyport Associates with a long experience working with acoustic/roots/folk/Celtic music acts. John represented Bert for the last fifteen years of his career.
A lifelong Bert Jansch fan and publicist of over 30 years’ standing, Mick Houghton worked with Bert on his PR for the last 15 years of his life and became a trusted friend. Mick wrote an acclaimed history of the Elektra record label and has completed his biography of Sandy Denny, I’ve Always Kept a Unicorn, to be published by Faber.
Pete Paphides is a music writer, broadcaster and record collector. His work has appeared in The Times, The Guardian, The Observer, Q, Mojo, Uncut and on BBC Radio 4. He wrote the sleeve notes for the Pentangle box set The Time Has Come and described Bert as Britain’s greatest ever guitarist in a cover feature for The Guardian.
Serena first worked with Bert on his BBC 60th birthday concert in London. She is a renowned producer of music documentaries and live broadcasts and award shows. She played a major role in creating A Celebration of Bert Jansch at the South Bank Centre, which was broadcast on BBC4 in 2014.
Adam Jansch is a musician and creative technologist whose practice covers bases across sound, art and programming. Having received his doctorate in Music Composition, Adam now designs apps and websites, and creates music under his Dorian Zoyd and -otron monikers.
Charlotte Crofton-Sleigh has many years experience in the music business, in both Tour and Artist Management. She is the mother of Bert’s son Adam and currently lives in Somerset with her American husband, saxophonist and composer Pee Wee Ellis.
Geraldine Auerbach MBE is a retired teacher of fine art and also founder and former Director of the Jewish Music Institute at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. Geraldine is the mother of Loren Jansch.
Karen Kidson is Loren Jansch’s sister and now helps manage Bert’s musical estate with Adam. She has a background in music business affairs, marketing and PR.
Leonard Lowy is a music industry solicitor in private practice and a former Director of Island Records. He worked with Bert and Loren for many years.
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