WE had to check it was for real this time, following The Telegraph’s famous obituary published back in 1999. Sadly it is. Former Fairport Convention fiddle player Dave Swarbrick has died at the age of 75, his family confirmed today, from emphysema. While perhaps not unexpected, Swarbrick has suffered form ill health for a long time and received a double lung transplant in 2004, his influence and body of work mean he will be sorely missed.
A key figure in the folk rock scene of the 1960’s, Swarbrick was probably best known for his time as a member of Fairport Convention, with whom he first worked as a session musician in 1969 to play on the Richard Thompson penned Cajun Woman, before joining as a full time member and staying for a decade. This period included the bands opus Liege & Lief, in which his playing and songwriting was a key feature. He also became the first person on the UK folk scene to electrify his violin.
All his career, he has worked almost constantly, when health permitted, creating a huge body of work, as a session man with acts such as Sandy Denny, Richard Thompson, Al Stewart, Lorna Campbell and Martin Carthy. He recorded ten albums with Martin Carthy as a duo – their 2006 album Straws in the Wind won the pair a BBC folk award, a handful with his group Whippersnapper, and Simon Nicol as well as recording a dozen solo albums and a good amount of records with the Ian Campbell Folk Group before he ever joined Fairport Convention.
His enthusiasm for performing never left him, and he performed as recently as April and May 2014, when he completed a 17-venue tour of the UK. Above all of that though, was an engaging and often funny personality. He famously said of his obituary at his next live show, “It’s not the first time I’ve died in Coventry.”
Rest in peace Dave Swarbrick – 5 April 1941 – 3 June 2016