Bert Jansch: 1943-2011

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Early this morning Scottish folk legend Bert Jansch passed away at a London hospice after a long battle with cancer. Winner of two Lifetime Achievement Awards from the BBC Folk Awards, one for his solo work and one as a member of the British folk rock band Pentangle, he influenced generations of artists with his sound.

Jansch recorded his first album in 1965, a self-titled debut that featured what’s still one of the artist’s best known songs, “Needle of Death,” inspired by the death of friend and fellow folk singer Buck Polly. Jansch’s final album was 2006’s The Black Swan which featured a number of traditional folk songs from both sides of the Atlantic and guest appearances from Beth Orton and Devendra Banhart. The album was Jansch’s 23rd full-length solo release.

Together with fellow folk musician John Renbourn, jazz musicians Terry Cox and Danny Thompson and singer Jacqui McShee, Bert Jansch formed Pentangle in 1967. The group released six albums before splitting in 1973, but reformed in the early ‘80s to release another six albums. A series of personnel changes eventually left Jansch and McShee as the only remaining founding members.

Despite his far-reaching influence and immense body of highly acclaimed work, Jansch was never one for showboating. In an interview with The Guardian last year, when asked about his influence, the folk legend replied, “I’m not one for showing off. But I guess my guitar-playing sticks out.”

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