Some thoughts from Ashley Hutchings
I recently wrote a post about the 45th anniversary of British folk rock group Fairport Convention’s first gig. In it, I opined that the genre of British folk rock was launched at the concert on May 27, 1967. I was a bit off. The seeds were sown then, but true British folk rock came from the band a bit later.
The great Ashley Hutchings, founder of Fairport, Steeleye Span and the various Albion bands, explained it to me this way:
“When Fairport played it’s first gig in 1967 we were a young “local” group. The only things that set us apart from similar groups was, firstly, our surprisingly wide knowledge of all types of music (folk included) but secondly, our repertoire which consistedmainly in obscure North American singer-songwriter covers and unexpected and obscure Bob Dylan and The Byrds covers.
“Within two years we had seamlessly evolved into a confident group which believed wholeheartedly that we should be doing the equivalent of our American heroes, namely taking the country’s traditions and making modern, popular versions of them.
“This, contrary to popular belief, happened organically, step by step, and was not in any way influenced by management, record company or the wish to have great popular success. It was all down to the music and to our exploring natures.“When we made the Liege & Lief album (in 1969) we knew we had had invented British folk-rock, and it felt good.”