I was greatly saddened to learn of the death of Davy Graham on the 15th December. He was a musician that made a huge impact on the folk music scene of the 1960's and then seemed to slowly faded from sight over the next decade, although his musical influence continued to spread outwards like ripples in a pond. I've written elsewhere in this blog about discovering his music for the first time (see The twang's not the thang) but in recent years his albums have been reissued and I for one have bought a few of them and rediscovered his music all over again,
With another forty or so years worth of listening and playing experience under my belt I realised that Graham wasn't just an innovative guitar player: he was an extraordinary musician who just happened to play the guitar. I'm fairly certain that he would have made great music on whatever instrument he had focused on. We may well have been denied a virtuoso trombonist or harpist or kazoo player, come to that - the instrument wasn't the point. It was the ideas that were so stunning. That he did focus on the guitar was fortunate because there was a very receptive audience for acoustic guitar music out there just waiting to be wowed. Personally, I find that the more I listen to those records, the more wowed I become. Davy Graham seemed to have the same attitude as another of my heroes, the Brazilian composer and multi-instrumentalist Hermeto Pascoal, characterised by a refusal to think in terms of musical pigeon holes but rather to see music as a whole - as a river flowing past that could be dipped into at any point.
Here's a nineteen year old Davy, caught on film in 1959 playing 'Cry Me A River'
And here's some footage from the BBC's 'Folk Britannia' documentary series -
and here's a track from the EP that originally introduced me to his music.
For further information, here are some links -