SAD news has been circulating in the world of folk today that Fairport Convention’s early female lead, and later singer with cult British duo Trader Horne, Judy Dyble, has died at the age of 71.

Born in London in 1949, Judy rose through the British folk scene and was asked to join the fledgling Fairport Convention in 1966 by Ashley Hutchings.

She appeared only on the band’s self-titled, West Coast-orientated debut LP, released in 1968, singing on tracks such the cover of Joni Mitchell’s “Chelsea Morning“. She shared a stage with the likes of Pink Floyd and Hendrix, reportedly once sitting on the front of the stage knitting while he and Fairport’s Richard Thompson jammed behind her.

She guested as part of the assembled chorus on the Incredible String Band’s out-there “Minotaur’s Song” from their offbeat, acid-folk The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter LP, before recording demos with Giles, Giles and Fripp – who of course later became King Crimson.

Dyble re-emerged in 1969 as part of Notting Hill folk trio Trader Horne, who almost immediately slimmed to a duo and who released just one hugely underappreciated, cultish LP, 1970’s Morning Way (hear the beautiful title track, below).

A music festival was arranged to take place in Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire, in order to launch Trader Horne fully; but by May of that year Judy had left the band. The album was to become an English psych-folk collectible, traded by whispers and fetching big sums, until a CD issue in 2000.

Judy left the music business, working for a time in Kettering library; she did not appear as a musician again until the annual Fairport reunion in 1981, when she appeared as a surprise guest. She would make sporadic appearances at the reunion again thereafter.

After many years, she began recording again, issuing an album, Enchanted Garden, in 2004, followed in 2006 by two albums in quick succession, Spindle and The Whorl. But even though she became more prolific in her later years, her catalogue was to be dogged by intermittent distribution and projects foundering in dispute.

The cognoscenti of the music world took to Twitter to pay tribute. St Etienne’s Bob Stanley said: “Goodbye Judy Dyble, who had one of the most affecting and clearest voices of the British folk rock scene.”

Music writer Danny Kelly said: “RIP Judy Dyble. Lovwly [sic] lady and lead singer on many fine records. And two great ones.”

And former Hefner frontman Darren Hayman said: “My lovely friend Judy Dyble has passed away. I’ve had a good cry already. It was such a privilege to work with her, play on stage, visit her home and dogs and go shopping for shaving mugs and penguins.”