Bob Davenport Biography

31 May 1932, Gateshead, Tyne And Wear, England. Although more often known as the front man in Bob Davenport And The Rakes, both with and without the group, Davenport enjoyed a great deal of popularity and earned a high degree of respect during the British folk revival. Down The Long Road included an unaccompanied version of the classic ‘Whiskey In The Jar’. The Rakes formed in 1956, essentially as a dance band, but managed to combine both this role with that of backing Davenport. To many, both acts were an inseparable whole. The Rakes, then just Michael Plunkett (fiddle/whistle), and Reg Hall (melodeon), met Davenport in the Queen’s Arms, Camden Town, London, in 1956. Paul Gross (fiddle), joined the Rakes later on. After earlier doing his National Service with the Royal Air Force, Davenport first sang in public in 1956, at the Bedford Arms, Camden Town, and, in 1959, won the Collet’s Folk Music Contest, as the best amateur performer in London.

A strong and versatile vocalist Davenport has recorded with numerous singers, on radio and television. Davenport was also the first person to get Peter Bellamy to perform in a folk club. In the early 60s, at the Singers club in Soho, London, Bellamy joined in the session on whistle. Davenport appeared at the 1963 Newport Folk Festival in the USA, alongside luminaries such as Joan Baez, Phil Ochs, Bob Dylan and Tom Paxton. The Iron Muse was presented as a ‘panorama of Industrial Folk Song’, and was arranged by A.L. Lloyd. Farewell Nancy, released on Topic Records, was a recording of sea songs and shanties, and included Louis Killen, and Cyril Tawney, in addition to Davenport himself. The EP, Folksound Of Britain, released in 1965 on HMV Records, featured songs from Northumbria and the West Country, and included Bob Davenport And The Rakes. Davenport took a long break from the scene during the 80s before resuming singing in clubs. TheWill’s Barn release featured Davenport along with the Watersons, and the Copper Family, while From The Humber To The Tweed was in part a celebration of Whitby Folk Festival’s 25th Anniversary.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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