Some of you may not have heard of the singer Sandy Denny before, but a 19 CD lavish Box Set of her entire work was released late in 2010 and I am sure some of you have heard her before but never knew it! because she performed on the track ‘Battle of Evermore’ with Robert Plant on the Led Zeppelin IV four symbols album.
Sandy Denny wasn’t sure if she wanted to be a big solo star or be just a singer in a rock n roll band but what she did during her career had class act written all over it, playing with great musicians with her haunting tender voice and writing a body of beautiful songs.
Let’s start in 1969 with her joining the folk rock band Fairport Convention which included in their line up the brilliant guitarist Richard Thompson, singer Ian Matthews and bassist Ashley Hutchings on their 2nd album ‘What We Did On Our Holidays ‘ which features Denny’s song ‘Fotheringay‘ and the now classic Fairport song ‘Meet on the Ledge’ .
This album was followed shortly by ‘Unhalfbricking‘ (showing a photo of Denny’s parents on the front cover) with Ian Matthews leaving the band at this point but being replaced with violin player ex~ordinaire Dave Swarbrick who always had a ciggie in his mouth and a fiddle in his hands. This album features the beautiful Denny song “Who Knows Where The Time Goes’ which Judy Collins covered and the epic ‘A Sailors Life’ which started to lead the band in a new unique direction which would produce one of the greatest folk rock albums of the 70’s ‘Liege and Lief ‘. Before that album was recorded the band suffered a terrible tour bus crash which claimed the lives of Fairport drummer Martin Lamble and Richard Thompson’s girlfriend girl Jeannie Franklyn while Sandy had travelled by car with her new Aussie boyfriend and future husband Trevor Lucas.
Adding new drummer the fabulous Dave Mattacks to their ranks and with Dave Swarbrick now as a fully paid up member of the band the classic album Liege and Lief was produced with dazzling solos from Thompson and Swarbrick but no Sandy Denny songs were featured only her vocals as she was about to leave the band and form her own band Fotheringay.
Fotheringay had a stellar line up of Gerry Conway on drums , Pat Donaldson on bass (and both later with Cat Stevens) and the excellent Jerry Donahue on guitar along with Trevor on acoustic guitar and Sandy on vocals and piano. They only released one album called Fotheringay which features plenty of the best of Denny’s songs before Sandy decided to go solo while recording tracks for the second Fotheringay album which was finally released in 2008 and is excellent!
Sandy recorded four solo albums all together (The North Star Grassman & the Ravens ~ Sandy ~ Like An Old Fashioned Waltz and Rendezvous) during the 70’s before re~joining Fairport one more time for the album ‘Rising of the Moon’ but the spark had gone after years of smoking and drinking and after the release of her final solo effort ‘ Rendezvous ‘ in 1977 she suffered injuries from falling down a flight of stairs and died the following year 1978.
A tragic loss but her songs live on including :It’ll Take A Long Time, The Pond And The Stream, Late November, Solo and Stranger to Himself