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History of British Folk Guitar

GUEST,paulreso1 15 Jan 10 - 02:50 PM
GUEST,Guest 15 Jan 10 - 04:33 PM
greg stephens 15 Jan 10 - 05:17 PM
Geoff the Duck 16 Jan 10 - 12:04 PM
M.Ted 16 Jan 10 - 02:27 PM
MGM·Lion 16 Jan 10 - 03:18 PM
Stower 16 Jan 10 - 03:19 PM
Leadfingers 17 Jan 10 - 06:58 AM
Paul Burke 17 Jan 10 - 07:19 AM
bubblyrat 17 Jan 10 - 07:22 AM
GUEST,banjoman 17 Jan 10 - 07:34 AM
GUEST,Hootenanny 17 Jan 10 - 08:09 AM
GUEST,Hootenanny 17 Jan 10 - 08:12 AM
Howard Jones 17 Jan 10 - 08:28 AM
Will Fly 17 Jan 10 - 09:15 AM
MGM·Lion 17 Jan 10 - 09:36 AM
MGM·Lion 17 Jan 10 - 09:41 AM
theleveller 17 Jan 10 - 10:43 AM
Terry McDonald 17 Jan 10 - 11:14 AM
The Sandman 17 Jan 10 - 11:31 AM
MGM·Lion 17 Jan 10 - 11:33 AM
Terry McDonald 17 Jan 10 - 12:02 PM
Will Fly 17 Jan 10 - 12:15 PM
Leadfingers 17 Jan 10 - 12:25 PM
Terry McDonald 17 Jan 10 - 12:27 PM
MGM·Lion 17 Jan 10 - 12:28 PM
Will Fly 17 Jan 10 - 12:40 PM
Terry McDonald 17 Jan 10 - 12:43 PM
MGM·Lion 17 Jan 10 - 01:34 PM
Terry McDonald 17 Jan 10 - 01:38 PM
MGM·Lion 17 Jan 10 - 01:50 PM
Will Fly 17 Jan 10 - 02:20 PM
MGM·Lion 17 Jan 10 - 02:30 PM
Will Fly 17 Jan 10 - 02:33 PM
MGM·Lion 17 Jan 10 - 02:39 PM
Terry McDonald 17 Jan 10 - 03:00 PM
Terry McDonald 17 Jan 10 - 03:02 PM
MGM·Lion 17 Jan 10 - 03:19 PM
MGM·Lion 17 Jan 10 - 03:21 PM
GUEST,Tunesmith 17 Jan 10 - 03:33 PM
MGM·Lion 17 Jan 10 - 03:36 PM
GUEST,jazzmandavid 17 Jan 10 - 03:46 PM
MGM·Lion 17 Jan 10 - 03:50 PM
DonMeixner 17 Jan 10 - 04:26 PM
The Sandman 17 Jan 10 - 05:02 PM
GUEST,Tunesmith 17 Jan 10 - 05:05 PM
Will Fly 17 Jan 10 - 05:46 PM
Terry McDonald 17 Jan 10 - 06:06 PM
Leadfingers 17 Jan 10 - 06:54 PM
MGM·Lion 17 Jan 10 - 11:02 PM
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Subject: History of British Folk Guitar
From: GUEST,paulreso1
Date: 15 Jan 10 - 02:50 PM

Hi,

I was at a guitar workshop run by Woody Mann recently. He asked an interesting question: what is the role of guitar in English & Celtic folk music - particularly, is there a tradition of guitar in British folk music prior to the 60's? For example, was there a tradition of folk music being played on the parlour guitars that were made in the UK at the turn of the 20th Century?

regards
Paul


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: GUEST,Guest
Date: 15 Jan 10 - 04:33 PM

There was a well documented tradition of playing Scottish music on guitar in the eighteenth century using what we call open tunings.

Stuart


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: greg stephens
Date: 15 Jan 10 - 05:17 PM

Samuel Pepys' diary is a good place to check out the early years of English folk guitar, but I am afraid I don't have the reference to hand at the minute.


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: Geoff the Duck
Date: 16 Jan 10 - 12:04 PM

You can download Pepys' diaries from Project Gutenberg http://www.gutenberg.org/browse/authors/p#a1181. Once on your computer it should be a quick job to search the text for "guitar", "music", "song", "dance", etc.
Quack!
GtD.


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: M.Ted
Date: 16 Jan 10 - 02:27 PM

If my memory is correct, the "English Guitar" that was used in earlier times was nearly identical to the "Portuguese Guitar" , which is pretty much the same instrument as the Spanish Bandurria, which is also the same as the Renaissance Cittern, which was/is a different instrument entirely from the modern cittern, which is actually a modified version of the bouzouki. The short answer (and we're now too far in for a short answer) is that it wasn't actually a guitar.


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 16 Jan 10 - 03:18 PM

==="... he will sing us Death and the Lady, to raise our spirits into the bargain.... and Sophy, love, take your guitar, and thrum in with the boy a little."===

From Oliver Goldsmith's The Vicar Of Wakefield (1766) chapter 17.


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: Stower
Date: 16 Jan 10 - 03:19 PM

Do correct me if I'm wrong, GUEST,Guest Stuart, but wasn't that eighteenth century Scottish music written for the guittar - a type of cittern - rather than the guitar as we now think of it, and wasn't it 'art music', not traditional Scottish music?


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: Leadfingers
Date: 17 Jan 10 - 06:58 AM

In the English Tradition . the tendency was for 'songs' to be unaccompanied , instruments being used for Dance , though there ARE exceptions


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: Paul Burke
Date: 17 Jan 10 - 07:19 AM

Depends which tradition you are talking about- my grandfather used to accompany himself on the melodeon. But I suppose that was music- hall, and therefore doesn't count.


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: bubblyrat
Date: 17 Jan 10 - 07:22 AM

Probably the first example of a "folk singer" using a guitar that I can recall as a child was a man whose name escapes me, but advertised himself as singing "songs to a small guitar" and appeared ,doing just that,in a Robin Hood film ! I think he did (but not in the film !) a recording of "The Owl & The Pussycat". Also,we had the "Tonight" programme on English TV,which gave us regular "doses" of Robin Hall & Jimmy McGregor,an early "act" to use a guitar in a "folk" style,but otherwise,there was somewhat of a paucity of guitar-accompanied "folk",other than a few occasional Radio examples of Burl Ives or Woody Guthrie.
                The Genesis of any kind of recognisable "English Folk Guitar" style per se, was probably an amalgam of the styles,tunings,and playing methods of the likes of such divers players as John Renbourn,Alexis Korner and,of course,Davy Graham. In which case,English Folk Guitar history is not really very old at all !!


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: GUEST,banjoman
Date: 17 Jan 10 - 07:34 AM

The guy you are thinking of was Elton Hayes who sang accompanied by what he called a Small Guitar. A great favourite on Childrens Favourites.


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 17 Jan 10 - 08:09 AM

Robin Hall and Jimmie MCGregor English guitar? I know they both lived in London for years and both played guitar but I don't think either of them would claim to be English. Jimmie also of course played and probably still does a nice Gibson F model mandolin.

I believe that Jimmie's interest in folk music along with some of his contemporaries was nurtured in Glasgow by a teacher Norman Buchan who went on to become an MP. I don't know if he played guitar.

Hoot


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 17 Jan 10 - 08:12 AM

Sh*t, the heading does of course say British Guitar.

I must learn to read.

Hoot


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: Howard Jones
Date: 17 Jan 10 - 08:28 AM

In Shetland there was the famous Peerie Willie Johnson, and in an old EFDSS magazine from 1962 I have a photo of a guitar player with the Jim Garson Trio from Orkney using a "steel", which it describes as "the Orcadian style".

There's an article on Musical Traditions about the Norfolk melodeon player Percy Brown which mentions his son-in-law Fred Devo sometimes accompanying him on guitar.

There were probably other examples of traditional players. However the guitar doesn't really seem to have been associated much with British folk music until the revival, which in its beginnings was heavily influenced by American folk. The current styles of "British folk guitar" are derived from the revival.


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: Will Fly
Date: 17 Jan 10 - 09:15 AM

I knew and talked to one or two folk club musicians in the '60s - guitar players who were then in their 50s. Their use of the guitar in the pre-war period (for example) was mainly to play in jazz outfits and as accompaniment to popular songs. Folk as we know it - or as the then Folk Song and Dance Societies knew it - had very little to do with the guitar. This viewpoint was passed on to me by variety performer and dance Sam Sherry, who was a regular, with his old Gibson guitar, at the Lancaster Folk Stir in the mid '60s.

It's easy to forget now, but guitars were a lot less ubiquitous in the early/mid-50s and before than they are today. It was really people like Donegan and the skifflers, and the early US blues visitors to this country (Broonzy, Josh White, Brownie McGhee) - people from the Ken Colyer and Chris Barber era - who popularised the instrument in this country. And that's probably when it worked its way into the folk scene.


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 17 Jan 10 - 09:36 AM

The real influence, I think everyone is forgetting, was the popularity of Burl Ives from 1940s onwards {+ Josh White also, to a degree} — the post above who sez not ubiquitous in 50s has it wrong — it was very much so by then — certainly by time the skiffle thing took off 1954·5-ish with Lonnie Donnegan, Chas McDevitt & Nancy Whiskey, Henry Morris et al. The espresso coffee bars were coincidentally opening up all over at the time too, each with its guitarist — one of whom, ex-merchant·seaman Tommy Hicks, got discovered & launched as Tommy Steele, England's answer to Elvis. Guitars were absolutely an indispensable part of the landscape by 1952, when Rory & Alex McEwen were at it also — Rory was my contemporary at Cambridge 1952-5, founding the University folk club, the St Lawrence, with Leon Rosselson, & singing the cabaret at the Downing College May Ball 1953 and the Cambridge Union Society Ball 1954, both of which I was at {I had friends at Downing tho my own college was Christ's}.. Guitars were everywhere in Cambridge by then.


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 17 Jan 10 - 09:41 AM

Sorry - error in above post: it was Stan Bootle, who later became Stan Kelly, who was at that Downing ball 1953 — + guitar... But it was Rory at the Union one the following year — they were EVERYWHERE, I tell you: & all Ives songs too — Stan did Worried Man Blues, I recall [Carter Family but via Ives], Rory I recall singing The Fox.


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: theleveller
Date: 17 Jan 10 - 10:43 AM

"The current styles of "British folk guitar" are derived from the revival. "

That's certainly true but there have been a number of people since then who have had a major influence on the way the guitar is used in British folk music. The first, of course, has to be Davey Graham and the introduction of DADGAD tuning. The second , I would say (but this is only a personal opinion),is Martin Simpson, using a variety of tunings, blues riffs and slide. You could also argue for Martin Carthy and a number of others but there is much more variety of playing and, generally, a far better standard than I remember when I first got into folk in the mid 60s.


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: Terry McDonald
Date: 17 Jan 10 - 11:14 AM

'The second' would be Martin Carthy who surely predates Martin Simpson by about ten years. Another early 'folk guitarist' was Steve Benbow and there was also the jazz influenced Fitzroy Coleman who played on some of the Radio Ballads.


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: The Sandman
Date: 17 Jan 10 - 11:31 AM

yes, and the whole point about Davey Graham[the man who introduced dadgad to the british folk revival , [and who influenced Carthy],is that he was influenced by moroccan music and the oud,not american music.
however there are certain similarites between some american 5 string banjo tunings,and some open guitar tunings,gdgcd or sawmill tuning is used a lot for modal tunes on 5 string banjo,and of course the modal guitar tuning dgdgcd,and its close relation cgcgcd,are based on sawmill banjo tuning and two c banjo tuning gcgcd.
however the important feature of dadgad dgdgcd and one of Carthys tuning dadeae,is that they all share the idea of two strings being tuned a tone apart from each other,to facilitate playing in a style that can avoid major or minor,if the player wishes.


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 17 Jan 10 - 11:33 AM

Yes to both above posts — but must reiterate that these were not "early" exponents, as some have suggested above, in the sense of being in any way rare. However virtuoso or revered Carthy, Carter, Benbow, Graham — by the time they happened along the guitar was MOST THOROUGHLY established as the instrument for folk accompt — they were just 4 among MANY. None of them was any sort of pioneer of the instrument, tho they might have been of some of its techniques — these, pioneers, were, as mentioned above by me & others, Burl Ives (I should say predominantly) & Josh White in USA {& Woody Guthrie shd surely be mentioned here too}; & Elton Hayes here — a full generation older and earlier than any of these rubricated in previous sentence.


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: Terry McDonald
Date: 17 Jan 10 - 12:02 PM

Mike - I was always intrigued by singers who accompanied themselves on the guitar but there were not that many in the late 40s and early 50s. The first ones I can remember were the ones already cited - Josh White, Burl Ives and Bill Broonzy plus Elton Hayes and (do you remember?) Max Wall who sang 'I once had a song, I wrote it myself, on some manuscript paper, I found on the shelf....' He played a sort of finger style guitar accompaniment to it. Other than these examples, I can only remember the Malcolm Mitchell trio whose leader was the singer-guitarist. (He started a big band but too late - that era was virtually over.)

When, as a 16 year old in 1956 and inspired by Lonnie Donegan and Ken Colyer, I bought my first guitar (£5 + £1 for the case, paid for in four weekly instalments of £1.10s.)I bought it from Bournemouth's best known purveyors of guitars, Don Strike. He did not have a shop, instead he gave lessons and sold guitars and banjos from the family flat above a shop in the Westbourne area. When the skiffle boom turned to the rock boom, and it was obvious that the guitar wasn't a 'here today and gone romorrow' fad, he was able to set up in the shop below - it's still in business.

You're about eight years older than me so you may be able to cite examples that predate mine.....please?


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: Will Fly
Date: 17 Jan 10 - 12:15 PM

the post above who sez not ubiquitous in 50s has it wrong

That was me, and what I actually said was:

guitars were a lot less ubiquitous in the early/mid-50s and before than they are today

This was merely to emphasise that the guitar was not as all-consuming an instrument in the early 50s as it is now. For example, it was extremely rare to see someone carrying a guitar in the street - whereas today, you can daily walk through any town or city and spot someone with a guitar case in their hand. It's certainly true that, by the mid-50s, guitar popularity was on the increase - but not at the beginning of the decade.

There was an interesting interview with Bert Weedon on TV some months ago, and he recalls buying his first guitar in an East End street market and everyone staring at him as he walked home with it. I'm not trying to be pedantic here - I remember the decade extremely well - in both Scotland and England - and a guitar was a rare sight in the early years.


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: Leadfingers
Date: 17 Jan 10 - 12:25 PM

The original question , though mentioning Pre Sixties , asks about Folk Guitar at the turn of the century ! In the ENGLISH tradition , the guitar does not seem to have had any MAJOR presence , and only really impinged on 'Folk' after Burl Ives et al .
Do any of the early collectors refer to the Guitar ? I am aware of references to fiddles and other intrunments , but NOT guitar .


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: Terry McDonald
Date: 17 Jan 10 - 12:27 PM

Yes, that's what I was trying to say!


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 17 Jan 10 - 12:28 PM

Terry & Will - What do you call 'early' 50s. I have already given 1952 as a terminus ab quem with the McEwens, Stan Bootle-Kelly, Leon Rosselson; for all of whom I can vouch myself. Burl Ives's Wayfaring Stranger record dated from 1944. I would call this the start of the rush myself. Certainly it had well caught on by, say, my going into 6th form to start my Higher Schools course [as we called A-levels back in prehistoric times] at 16 in 1948. You would certainly see guitar cases being carried all over the place in London by 1950. There would be someone with a guitar at any party you went to in, say, my Cambridge days 1952-55. I didn't start playing it myself till I came down - 1956 to be exact. But lots of my friends at university [I remember a man called Joe Miller, e.g., with whom I remained friends for some years after] did. How 'early' do you want?


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: Will Fly
Date: 17 Jan 10 - 12:40 PM

Michael - I would say - with due respect to your years and experience - that London and Cambridge were (a) not typical of most provincial towns (b) that, no matter how "ubiquitous" they may or may not have been, guitars didn't impinge on whatever "folk" scene was prevalent at the time and (c) compared with the huge surge of interest in later years, the guitar was a minority interest in the early 50s.

The main point, of course, is point (b). There was certainly interest in Burl Ives, in some black blues artists, and in oddballs like Elton Hayes but, if the guitar made its presence felt, it was more on the jazz/blues scene rather than any folk scene.

However, we've all had very different growing-up experiences in different locations. It's possible that my milieu was very different from yours!


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: Terry McDonald
Date: 17 Jan 10 - 12:43 PM

When I started at Poole Grammar School in 1950 we were all fans of the (usually British) big bands of the day, none of which included a guitarist. Our musical ambitions (if we had any)would have been to play the trumpet or the saxophone. The trad jazz bands that 'took off' at about this time all had banjoists, never guitarists. Perhaps London and Cambridge were different but, like Will, I saw the documentary that included Bert Weedon's comments and they rang true with me. I think the documentary was the one where the late 1950s commentator expressed surprise at the sudden popularity of the guitar as the instrument that every teenager wanted.


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 17 Jan 10 - 01:34 PM

Another thing: my mother ran a restaurant in S Ken, just round corner from Gloucester Road tube, from 1951 onwards: it belonged to her brother & she was resident director. She had a pianist, who would sometimes go round the tables with her accordion, who would play in shift with a singer-guitarist, who would tour the tables likewise. A customer I remember coming in about 1953 was Theodore Bikel, who was appearing in a play in London at the time (might have been Ustinov's Love Of Three Colonels, I think), who took down another guitar which hung on the wall & sang with it. (It was that sort of restaurant — Diana Dors, Christopher Lee, David Coleman, Donald Sinden, Lord Milford-Haven, Gilbert Harding, Mike Hawthorne - all regulars; ·+·David Blakely the racing driver & his friend Ruth Ellis, who shot him & became the last woman ever hanged in UK, who once thanked me for my singing - at piano in those days - bet you've never been thanked politely by someone who went on to be hung; but of course all this BTW} - but the presence there every night from *1951* onwards of that singer-guitarist is not BTW. I think it very relevant; & it was not regarded as anything extraordinary. If that commentator said what you have just quoted him as saying, about the LATE 50s, then he is a big booby — guitars were Bloody EVERYWHERE - even Poole!, by the late-50s.


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: Terry McDonald
Date: 17 Jan 10 - 01:38 PM

Hmmm, that was what the late 1950s commentator was saying - 'guitars were everywhere, how strange!'


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 17 Jan 10 - 01:50 PM

But they had been everywhere for a good 5 years by the end of the decade. First skiffle club at the Princess Louise opened 1954, I think it was - 55 at latest. & every third or fourth person who came in brought his own guitar with him. One of the first people I ever met there was Michael Moorcock, then aged 15 I think, now one of the world's leading sf writers, but then probably the world's worst guitarist! In fact, i don't think he could actually play a chord — just carried on his back as a sort of prop — because everybody had to have one, like trousers!! So what did this commentator think so strange about their being everywhere in 1959? he must have been walking around for ½-decade with his head in a bucket!


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: Will Fly
Date: 17 Jan 10 - 02:20 PM

guitars were Bloody EVERYWHERE - even Poole!, by the late-50s

So they were - in the late 50s... But not necessarily so in the early 50s, particularly in the provinces. And almost certainly not in any folk scene.

Here are the No. 1 best record sellers of 1955:

Dickie Valentine - Finger Of Suspicion - 04/01/1955
Rosemary Clooney - Mambo Italiano - 11/01/1955
Dickie Valentine - Finger Of Suspicion (2nd time) - 18/01/1955
Rosemary Clooney - Mambo Italiano (2nd time) - 01/02/1955
Ruby Murray - Softly Softly - 15/02/1955
Tennessee Ernie Ford - Give Me Your Word - 08/03/1955
Perez Prado - Cherry Pink And Apple Blossom White - 26/04/1955
Tony Bennett - Stranger In Paradise - 10/05/1955
Eddie Calvert - Cherry Pink And Apple Blossom White - 24/05/1955
Jimmy Young - Unchained Melody - 21/06/1955
Alma Cogan - Dreamboat - 12/07/1955
Slim Whitman - Rose Marie - 26/07/1955
Jimmy Young - The Man From Laramie - 11/10/1955
Johnston Brothers - Hernando's Hideaway - 08/11/1955
Bill Haley and His Comets - Rock Around The Clock - 22/11/1955
Dickie Valentine - Christmas Alphabet - 13/12/1955

And here are the No. best selling singles of 1956:

Bill Haley and His Comets - Rock Around The Clock (2nd time) - 03/01/1956
Tennessee Ernie Ford - Sixteen Tons - 17/01/1956
Dean Martin - Memories Are Made Of This - 14/02/1956
Dreamweavers - It's Almost Tomorrow - 13/03/1956
Kay Starr - Rock And Roll Waltz - 27/03/1956
Dreamweavers - It's Almost Tomorrow (2nd time) - 03/04/1956
Winifred Atwell - Poor People Of Paris - 10/04/1956
Ronnie Hilton - No Other Love - 01/05/1956
Pat Boone - I'll Be Home - 12/06/1956
Frankie Lymon and The Teenagers - Why Do Fools Fall In Love - 17/07/1956
Doris Day - Whatever Will Be Will Be - 07/08/1956
Anne Shelton - Lay Down Your Arms - 18/09/1956
Frankie Laine - A Woman In Love - 16/10/1956
Johnnie Ray - Just Walkin' In The Rain - 13/11/1956

And here are the UK best sellers for 1957:

Guy Mitchell - Singing The Blues - 01/01/1957
Tommy Steele - Singing The Blues - 08/01/1957
Guy Mitchell - Singing The Blues (2nd time) - 15/01/1957
Frankie Vaughan - The Garden Of Eden - 22/01/1957
Guy Mitchell - Singing The Blues (3rd time) - 29/01/1957
Tab Hunter - Young Love - 19/02/1957
Lonnie Donegan - Cumberland Gap - 09/04/1957
Guy Mitchell - Rock A Billy - 14/05/1957
Andy Williams - Butterfly - 21/05/1957
Johnnie Ray - Yes Tonight Josephine - 04/06/1957
Lonnie Donegan - Gamblin' Man - 25/06/1957
Elvis Presley - All Shook Up - 09/07/1957
Paul Anka - Diana - 27/08/1957
The Crickets - That'll Be The Day - 29/10/1957
Harry Belafonte - Mary's Boy Child - 19/11/1957

A crude measure, I grant you but - even allowing for the innate conservatism of the established music industry of that period (beautifully chronicled by Pete Frame) - you can see that the influence of the guitar on music generally only really started in ernest in 1957. I admit it's only a pointer - but, in a general way, it shows that the rise of the guitar as a popular and established instrument only really kicked in in the mid-1950s at the earliest.


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 17 Jan 10 - 02:30 PM

Yes, on pop records - but NOT in skiffle/folk clubs, which were going by 1954-55, & were ALL guitarsguitarsguitarsguitars wall·2·bloody·wall, weren't they? Look at the title of this thread again — we are not talking about guitars in mainstream pop; we are talking about them in Folk. If you had gone into any record shop anywhere, here or in US, in late 40s, & asked for records by Burl Ives or Josh White,[even Elton Hayes or Woody Guthrie or Big Bill Broonzy] do you think there was a single shop, even in Poole, who would have looked blank at you & declared they had never heard of them? Away you!!!

Furthermore, one of you said the banjo was more common in jazz groups of the time — but what of BLUES, FFS!? I heard Cyril Davies & Alex Korner first off in 1955.


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: Will Fly
Date: 17 Jan 10 - 02:33 PM

Michael, I can see that we're not going to reach any common ground here, and that my experience of the music scene in the 1950s was not the same as yours.

So I'm afraid we'll have to beg to differ. The next thing is we'll be arguing about what the folk scene actually was in 1955 - and we couldn't have that, could we?

I shall sign off here, with regards.


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 17 Jan 10 - 02:39 PM

& best of regards right back to you, Will -- with all traditional greetings

- Michael --


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: Terry McDonald
Date: 17 Jan 10 - 03:00 PM

Skiffle clubs in 1954? Wasn't Rock Island Line recorded at the Royal Festival Hall (Chris Barber concert)in 1954 and Ken Colyer's 'Take This Hammer'about the same time. Lonnie's single of Rock Island Line came out in 1955 and suddenly the word 'skiffle' entered the language. I'm surprised that there were 'Skiffle Clubs' before 1955.

Blues a la Alexis Korner in 1955 - 1955's not the 'early 50s as far as I'm concerned........'


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: Terry McDonald
Date: 17 Jan 10 - 03:02 PM

By the way, 'even in Poole' sounds a bit townist to me.


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 17 Jan 10 - 03:19 PM

Yes. Terry, my 54 was tentative: 55 more likely. 55 not early 50s - but not late 50s either: couldn't be more mid-, indeed! But my point with Will's list above was that this thread is not about pop, but folk - specified in title of thread. & I aver that it was Burl Ives, more than any other, who started the worldwide guitar-the-instrument-for-folk idea, following a well-estd tradition in USA (Broonzy, Guthrie, White, the Blues) even if not here, that started the association worldwide, incl here — where we had indeed already had Elton Hayes but perhaps not many more. Ives' first success - Wayfaring Stranger, 1944. Well estd worldwide, guitar as instrument to be used for such singing, by 48 at latest, surely? So that the 'wandering minstrel' of my mother's restaurant was what by then - 1951 - you EXPECTED to find in that sort of posh but informal milieu.


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 17 Jan 10 - 03:21 PM

Not meant to be townist exactly - sorry: but you had intro'd it as the sort of Petaluma or Peoria-clone where our Lunnon-townie ways would not have obtained, so I merely followed your example


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: GUEST,Tunesmith
Date: 17 Jan 10 - 03:33 PM

Bert Jansch - more so than Davy, can be considered the father of English folk guitar - even though Bert is Scottish! It has been noted that Bert was starting to develop an British style (mid-sixties) while, at that time, Martin Carthy was still playing in a basically American style. Nic Jones, probably, represents the height of the English folk guitar development.


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 17 Jan 10 - 03:36 PM

I would urge Paul Brady - though Irish, but you will see what I mean.


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: GUEST,jazzmandavid
Date: 17 Jan 10 - 03:46 PM

Shirley Douglas, the vocalist in my Skiffle Group (she replaced Nancy Whiskey), purchased Elton Hayes' guitar from him in the foyer of a Leicester Square cinema in 1956/57. Probably the one in his song, though if I remember, it wasn't that 'small'. She hadn't been with my group for long when we appeared at the Odeon Romford in Paul Lincoln's "Meet For Cats",on Sunday March 31st 1957. This show also introduced the new "recording discovery", Terry Dene. Seconds before he was due onstage Terry Dene came running into the dressing room asking to borrow a guitar, he had just broken a string. All assembled 'cocked a deaf 'un', except Shirley , who unwisely said he could borrow hers. It was returned twenty minutes later with all the body work scratched beyond repair! A lesson learned. The folk guitar had become a rock guitar overnight, quite an idignity for this historic instrument.


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 17 Jan 10 - 03:50 PM

Sandy Sandfield, another member of skiffle group I played with 1956, Easy Riders, once scratched my Gibson acoustic to hell by using plectrum on it when it hadn't a plate — pillock!


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: DonMeixner
Date: 17 Jan 10 - 04:26 PM

Is this a question about when people started using guitar for playing folk songs in Great Britain or is it that there is a folk guitar style unique to the British Isles?

If I were asked this question about American Folk Guitar I would wonder how long the guitar or it's cousins have been available in the US. I would then make a bold assumption that as soon as some one could afford one people would begin to sing popular songs along with it.   And as soon as the first guitarist child played a song his folks played on the guitar I'd say a tradition was starting. I'd further ponder as to whether a popular song can be a folk song. Songs popular in the 1790's for instance were likely to be Broadsides and songs that people brought with them from other places.

This is a question, not limited to the British experience, that a Doctorate could be studied on.

Don


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: The Sandman
Date: 17 Jan 10 - 05:02 PM

"Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: GUEST,Tunesmith - PM
Date: 17 Jan 10 - 03:33 PM

Bert Jansch - more so than Davy, can be considered the father of English folk guitar - even though Bert is Scottish! It has been noted that Bert was starting to develop an British style (mid-sixties) while, at that time, Martin Carthy was still playing in a basically American style. Nic Jones, probably, represents the height of the English folk guitar development."
Bert jansch,Herbert Jansch (born 3 November 1943[1]), known as Bert Jansch, is a Scottish folk musician and founding member of the band Pentangle. He was born in Glasgow and, in the 1960s, he was heavily influenced by the guitarist Davey Graham and folk singers such as Anne Briggs. He is best known as an innovative and accomplished acoustic guitarist but is also a singer and songwriter.

He has recorded at least 25 albums and has toured extensively starting in the 1960s and continuing into the 21st century. His work has influenced such artists as Johnny Marr, Bernard Butler, Jimmy Page, Ian Anderson, Nick Drake, Donovan, Neil Young, and more recently Don Deere, and it has earned him a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2001 BBC Folk Awards.


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: GUEST,Tunesmith
Date: 17 Jan 10 - 05:05 PM

I don't think there is a precedent in American guitar playing for the "British" style of Bert Jansch. Bert, of course, on his first album used a lot of American style pattern playing ( claw-hammer, as we used to call it back then) but Bert's use of that style was marvelous. There could be a precedent for the British folk guitar style in American banjo players with their use of dones and "folk" tunings.
Interestingly, a hundred years in the UK, the banjo would have been the favoured stringed accompanying instrument for any cultured person wanting to sing folk songs.


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: Will Fly
Date: 17 Jan 10 - 05:46 PM

I'm surprised no-one's mentioned Steve Benbow - first album around 1957 - who was a big influence on Davy Graham - who was a big influence on Jansch, Renbourn et al.


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: Terry McDonald
Date: 17 Jan 10 - 06:06 PM

I mentioned him, Will, at 11.14 AM Mudcat time. I still have one of his 1959 EPs.


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: Leadfingers
Date: 17 Jan 10 - 06:54 PM

Steve Benbow gave Davy Graham some guitar lessons before he 'discovered' DADGAD


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 17 Jan 10 - 11:02 PM

Why, Will, several of us have mentioned Steve — incl me in my correspondence with you [11.33]. Don't tell me you didn't read every word!...


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