Scottish folk singer Ian Campbell sadly passed away over the Weekend. At this years BBC Folk Awards ceremony Ian was awarded the ‘Good Tradition Award’ for his outstanding contribution to the continuation of tradtional folk music. He was born in Aberdeen but moved to Birmingham in the 1940’s. Ian worked as an engraver in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter and along with his sister Lorna he became involved with the Clarion Singers, a socialist community choir, they would later become The Ian Campbell Folk Group, one of the most popular and influential folk groups during the 60’s folk revival.
The Clarion Singers evolved into a 12-piece band called the Ian Campbell skiffle group, another band to be swept along in the Skiffle craze across Britain at that time. This would soon change as Ian’s influences turned towards British Tradtional folk songs. When the band re-formed as a folk group in 1958 their reputation really took off. Ian and his sister became the hosts of the popular ‘Jug O’ Punch Club’ which was held at the Crown in Station Street Birmingham. This became a central hub for the Midlands folk scene. The Ian Campbell Folk Group had a strong reputation for their singing and the combination of Dave Swarbrick’s fiddle and John Dunkerley’s banjo gave them a unique and rare sound at that time that found them a rapidly growing fan base. Demand for their music led to them being asked to launch new folk clubs around the country and they also featured, for a while, on the very popular folk TV series Hullabaloo along with Martin Carthy.
The band remained active until 1978 and featured a number of band member changes for one reason and another. Members also included Dave Pegg of Fairport Convention.
One thing is certain, Ian’s influence on the folk scene of the Sixties was far greater than what he has been credited for and it was great that the BBC Folk Awards recognised that contribution…there are many folk singers from that period that owe Ian a huge debt of gratitude and he will be sadly missed.