English folk guitar legend John Renbourn has died of a suspected heart attack. He was 70-years-old. Renbourn was a songwriter, guitarist, and co-founder of Pentangle, one of the most popular English folk-rock bands of all time. Pentangle formed in the late 1960s and their original lineup was arguably the strongest gathering of musicians to ever grace a folk group.
As well as having John Renbourn on guitar and vocals, Pentangle also had guitarist Bert Jansch, vocalist Jackie McShee, double bassist Danny Thompson, and drummer Terry Cox. As Pentangle, Renbourn and his colleagues, together with their contemporaries in Fairport Convention, reinvigorated the English folk music scene by bringing electric guitars and both rock and jazz rhythms to folk music.
According to the Guardian, John Renbourn has been on tour in recent weeks and concerns were raised when he did not turn up to play a show at a venue in Glasgow on Wednesday, March 25. As a result, police investigated John Renbourn’s home in Hawick, in the Scottish borders, where they found Renbourn dead. There are no suspicious circumstances, and Mr. Renbourn is believed to have died of a heart attack.
John Renbourn was remembered by his manager, Dave Smith, who described him as a “delight.”
“He was just larger than life. Game for anything. He was just finishing off a tour, and was looking forward to the next. He was a great teacher, he was always putting himself down as a teacher and running weekend workshops all over Europe, where he would have students come and learn from him.”
According to Uncut, radio presenter and Catatonia singer Cerys Matthews was among the first to pay tribute to John Renbourn. Matthews paid tribute to Renbourn on Twitter, saying that she was “sad to hear of John Renbourn’s passing.” Matthews described Renbourn as a “lovely man.”
So sorry and sad to hear of John Renbourn's passing. A loving, lovely man. RIP John, it was an honour and pleasure meeting you.
— Cerys Matthews (@cerysmatthews) March 26, 2015
Novelist Ian Rankin also paid tribute to Renbourn’s skill as a guitarist.
Ach, and now John Renbourn has died. What a guitarist…
— Ian Rankin (@Beathhigh) March 26, 2015
Speaking to Uncut, Simon Nicol of Fairport Convention spoke highly of John Renbourn and the influence he had on folk musicians.
“Another light has gone out. John made a uniquely important contribution to guitar music and I first became aware of his playing when I picked up the guitar in my early teens. John influenced more people than he ever knew and he knew a lot of people. He was much-loved and will be much-missed.”
BBC radio presenter Lauren Laverne commented on John Renbourn’s passing and noted that in joining Bert Jansch, there will be “some beautiful music up there tonight.”
First Bert, now John Renbourn has left us. Sad news. Some beautiful music up there tonight, I hope. https://t.co/ivJLCIxRaz
— Lauren Laverne (@laurenlaverne) March 26, 2015
John Renbourn will be fondly remembered by all who knew him, and his music will be sorely missed by many fans of folk music across the world.
[Image via Geomusic]