Davey Graham

Davy GrahamFrom: Hinckley, Leicestershire, England

David Michael Gordon “Davey” Graham was a British guitarist and one of the most influential figures in the 1960s British folk revival. Graham inspired many famous practitioners of the finger-style acoustic guitar, including Bert Jansch, Wizz Jones, John Renbourn, Martin Carthy, John Martyn, Paul Simon and Jimmy Page. Graham is also responsible for popularizing DADGAD tuning, which has become widely adopted by acoustic guitarists.

Born in Hinckley, Leicestershire, England, to a Guyanese mother and a Scottish father, Graham never had any music theory lessons. Despite this, he learned to play the piano and harmonica as a child and eventually took up the classical guitar at age 12. He was strongly influenced by Steve Benbow, who travelled widely with the army and played a guitar style influenced by Moroccan music.

Graham wrote what is arguably his most famous composition at the age of 19, the acoustic guitar solo “Angi” (sometimes spelt “Anji”). The song was named after his then girlfriend, and appeared on his debut EP 3/4 AD in April 1962. Before the record was released, Bert Jansch had learnt it from a 1961 tape he borrowed from Len Partridge. Jansch included the song on his 1965 debut album as “Angie.” The spelling “Anji” became the more widely used spelling after it appeared on Simon & Garfunkel’s 1966 album Sounds of Silence.

It was in a 1959 broadcast of the BBC TV arts series Monitor that Graham came to the attention of guitarists, in which he played an acoustic instrumental version of “Cry Me A River.” In the 1960s, Graham released a string of albums of music from around the world in several different genres. 1964’s Folk, Blues and Beyond, as well as 1965’s collaboration with Shirley Collins, Folk Roots, New Routes, are often cited among his most influential albums. Graham continuously toured the world as a beat mystic traveller, picking up and then recording different styles of music for the guitar. This has resulted in many musicians crediting him with founding world music.

In the late 1960s Graham married American singer Holly Gwinn and recorded the albums The Holly Kaleidoscope and Godington Boundary with her in 1970, shortly before she has to return to the USA and he was unable to follow her, due to a visa problem as a result of a marijuana conviction. He later described himself as having been “a casualty of too much self-indulgence”, becoming a heroin addict in imitation of his jazz heroes. During this period in his life, Graham taught acoustic guitar and undertook charity work, particularly for various mental health charities. For several years he was on the executive council of Mind and he was involved for some time with the mystic Osho.

All That Moody was recorded in 1976, and remains his most collectible vinyl record owing to its “moody” nature and rarity. He recorded two more groundbreaking albums for Kicking Mule, 1978’s The Complete Guitarist and 1980’s Dance For Two People. He continued to play concerts but focused most of his time and energy on studying languages; he was fluent in Gaelic, French, and Greek and decent at Turkish.

In 2005, Graham was the subject of a BBC Radio documentary, Whatever Happened To Davy Graham? and in 2006 featured in the BBC Four documentary Folk Britannia. Many people tried to encourage Graham to return to the stage to play live over the years. Graham was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2008 and died on December 15 of that year.

Although he never achieved much commercial success, Davey Graham’s music received positive critical feedback, and has been very influential. He has inspired the likes of Bert Jansch, John Renbourn, Martin Carthy, Ralph McTell, Wizz Jones, John Martyn, Nike Drake, Ritchie Blackmore and Paul Simon, as well as folk bands Fairport Convention and Pentangle.

Artist Info: Wikipedia

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Tracks played on Psychedelicized…

From the 1969 album Hat

  • Hornpipe For Harpsichord Played Upon Guitar