John Renbourn Biography

8 August 1944, Marylebone, London, England. Renbourn received his first guitar at the age of 13, insisting on the present because he wished to emulate the singing cowboys he had seen in American movies. After a brief dalliance with classical music he turned his attention to folk. Having flirted with various part-time electric bands (including the blues-inclined Hogsnort Rupert And His Famous Porkestra), Renbourn began his folk-singing career on London’s club circuit. Startling guitar work compensated for his less assured vocals and he quickly established a reputation as a leading traditionalist, whose interpretations of classic country blues and Elizabethan material provided a remarkable contrast to the freer styles of Davey Graham and Bert Jansch. Friendship with the latter resulted in Renbourn’s debut album, but it was on the following collection, Another Monday, that the artist’s talent truly flourished. The two guitarists were the inspiration behind the Pentangle, but Renbourn, like Jansch, continued to record as a solo act during the group’s existence.

When the individual musicians went their separate ways again in 1973, Renbourn maintained his unique, eclectic approach and further excursions into medieval music contrasted with the eastern styles or country blues prevalent on later albums. His 1988 album was recorded with the assistance of Maggie Boyle, Tony Roberts and Steve Tilston under the collective title of ‘John Renbourn’s Ship Of Fools’. Although his studio releases are now less frequent, the guitarist remains a popular figure on the British and international folk circuit, and is occasionally to be found double-heading with fellow maestro Isaac Guillory.

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

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