A solid stepping stone of folk rock, fiddler extraordinaire Dave Swarbrick has just passed away, aged 75. Forever associated with FAIRPORT CONVENTION that he was a member of in their classic period – contributing to such masterpieces as “Unhalfbricking” before joining the line-up and then “Liege & Lief”; stepping up to the microphone to deliver the likes of “The Hanging Song” and run wild on traditional fare along the lines of “Dirty Linen” – Swarb’s body of work is immense, with a box set to his name having barely touched on it.
Unfortunately, Dave’s physical body couldn’t catch up with his agile mind: he suffered for years, performing in a wheelchair (something this scribe discussed with Dick Heckstall-Smith as an example of audacious artistry) and sometimes with an oxygen tank, yet the keyword here would be “performed” – that was the gist of it all.
There also were collaborations with friends – Sandy Denny, Richard Thompson, Martin Carthy – which, in parallel with prolific solo output – has made Dave an indelible part of English, and global, musical landscape. What Swarb’s done over the years requires deep investigation and investment of time but it warrants a great pleasure. As the veteran’s colleague Maartin Allcock noted, “The cat with 29 lives has finally used them all up”… Dave Swarbrick will be sorely missed.