Fairport Convention were one of the most influential and successful bands to emerge in the late 1960's and, despite many changes in their lineup, continued to release superb quality work for decades after that. The band still performs to this day and, if you haven't guessed it yet, are one of my personal favourites.
On 11th May 1969, following a gig at the Mothers in Birmingham the band were being driven home in their van. Their road manager Harvey Bramham was at the wheel when the vehicle left the road and went down an embankment close to a service station on the M1 motorway.
One of the passengers, Jeannie Franklyn, (girlfriend of guitarist Richard Thompson), died at the scene and the band's young drummer Martin Lamble died from his injuries later in hospital. Martin was just 19 when he died. The other occupants were injured, in some cases quite seriously.
By a quirk of fate however, the band's singer, the wonderful Sandy Denny, was not in the van that night, having accepted a lift from her then boyfriend Trevor Lucas. Unfortunately though, Sandy's luck did not last and she herself died tragically young in an accident - follow this link to find out more about that.
After a period of doubt the band decided that they would continue and recruited a new drummer, Dave Mattacks, to replace Martin. Soon afterwards they released their masterpiece album, "Liege & Lief" paving the way for decades of success albeit interspersed with inevitable periods of inactivity and lineup changes.
Sandy wrote a song for her album "the Northstar Grassman & The Ravens" entitled "Late November" which was partly inspired by the death of Martin Lamble. this was released in 1971.
Selecting albums to recommend from their extensive catalogue is difficult but I would have to begin by saying "Liege and Leaf" (released in 1969), is widely regarded as being one of their most important works and is a good place to start, including as is does, such great tracks as "Come All Ye", "Farewell Farewell" and "Matty Groves" . Other highlights include Unhalfbricking, (1969) and What We Did On Our Holidays, (also 1969) and the band's eponymous first album, Fairport Convention, (released 1968), is also well worth a listen and is the only one recorded with original vocalist Judy Dyble before Sandy Denny took over the reins.
There are many compilation albums to choose from but to really get a flavour of this great band I strongly recommend that you listen to Unhalfbricking, as it includes so many truly great tracks such as Sandy's "Who knows where the time goes?", a terrific version of Dylan's "Percy's Song", "Si tu doir partir" and "A Sailor's Life." There are a number of books about Fairport Convention, many are out of print but those listed below are readily available.
Below you will see the Celebrated Rockbottoms Store where you can get track listings and further details on each recommendation. If you purchase from this store, or click on any of the tastefully selected ads on my site, you will be helping to fund my research as I do receive a small commission.