Sad news concerning influential British folk music pioneer Ian Campbell who passed away due to cancer on November 24, 2012. The Ian Campbell Folk Group was at the center of Birmingham's thriving folk music scene during the 1960s.
Though not enjoying the mass popularity of many well-known pop and rock bands to emerge from the West Midlands during the 1960s, The Ian Campbell Folk Group nevertheless managed to attract a large number of dedicated followers. Ian was born June 10, 1933 in Aberdeen, Scotland. The Campbell family moved to Birmingham when Ian was in his early teens. After leaving school, he was apprenticed in the jewellery quarter where he worked for many years as an engraver while struggling to raise a family of his own. Ian inherited his musical talent and love of folk music from his parents, thereby it wasn't long before he formed his first group that included his sister Lorna who also sang.
After a few changes in name and line-ups, The 'Ian Campbell Folk Group' was performing regularly in the pubs and clubs around Birmingham by 1960. Their working-class lyrics and acoustically-based sound (guitar, banjo, mandolin, fiddle) fitted well with the grimy industrial environment of the city at that time. As the group's fan-base increased, they were signed to Transatlantic Records in 1963 with whom they recorded several critically-acclaimed albums. Additionally, the Ian Campbell Folk Group's cover of the Bob Dylan protest song 'The Times They Are A-Changin' was a minor chart hit for the group in 1965. The US hit group Simon & Garfunkel recorded Ian's 'The Sun Is Burning' for their debut album in 1964.
Some notable Ian Campbell Folk Group members included John Dunkerley, Dave Phillips, and influential British folk music pioneer Dave Swarbrick who went on to record with the acclaimed band Fairport Convention. Former Uglys bass guitarist Dave Pegg also joined the Ian Campbell Folk Group group for a while before going on to become another pivotal member of Fairport Convention.
The Ian Campbell Folk Group were regular performers at U.K. folk festivals during the 1960s and 70s as well as making appearances on radio and TV. They also toured throughout the country as well as overseas. Folk music fans may remember the nationally-known 'Jug O' Punch Folk Club' at Digbeth Civic Hall in Birmingham that was run by Ian and had the Ian Campbell Folk Group as the resident band. After further line-up changes and 20 years of performing, The Ian Campbell Folk Group finally disbanded in 1978.
During the following decades, Ian Campbell embarked on a new career as a television producer while looking on with justifiable pride as two of his sons performed as part of the internationally successful reggae pop group UB40. Ian Campbell was honored at the BBC Radio U.K. Folk Awards in February of 2012. My condolences go out to Ian's family and friends. He will be missed.