Sandy Denny, Talk:Sandy Denny
(born Alexandra Elene MacLean Denny
, 6 January 1947
, Wimbledon, London
, died 21 April 1978
) was an English singer
. She is best known for her involvement with the British folk rock
movement, including two spells as a member of Fairport Convention
, as well as her duet with Robert Plant
on Led Zeppelin
's "The Battle of Evermore
As a child, Denny born at Nelson Hospital, Kingston Road, Merton Park, studied classical piano
. Her Scottish grandmother was a singer of traditional songs and at an early age, Denny showed an interest in singing, despite the disapproval of her extremely strict parents. After leaving school, she started training as a nurse at the Royal Brompton Hospital
In 1965, she enrolled at the Kingston College of Art
in London, where she became involved in the folk club
on campus. It was there that she met fellow students John Renbourn
and Eric Clapton
. She travelled in to Earls Court
to play at the Troubadour club, where a member of The Strawbs
heard her. In 1967, she was invited to join the band, and recorded one album with them in Denmark
; the album includes an early version of her best-known (and widely cover
ed) song, "Who Knows Where the Time Goes
." Judy Collins
recorded the song, helping to bring Sandy Denny to attention. Denny also recorded her first solo album in this period, featuring traditional songs and covers of folk contemporaries including a boyfriend of this period, Jackson C. Frank
In 1968, Denny became the lead vocalist for Fairport Convention
(replacing Judy Dyble), recording three albums with them. Denny is credited with introducing Fairport Convention to the traditional British folk
repertoire, and is thus a key figure in the development of British folk rock.
Denny left Fairport Convention
in 1969, just before the release of Liege & Lief
, to form her own band, Fotheringay
, including her boyfriend, Australia
n born Trevor Lucas
. She dissolved the group after one album to record solo albums, with several members of Fairport Convention as guests. The North Star Grassmen and the Ravens
remain her most popular solo albums. In 1973, she married Lucas, and returned to Fairport Convention for a world tour and another album, Rising for the Moon,
featuring several of her own compositions.
During her solo period, Denny appeared in a brief cameo on Lou Reitzner
's version of The Who
's rock opera, Tommy
, and duetted memorably with Robert Plant
on "The Battle of Evermore
" from Led Zeppelin's 1971
album 55px|Led Zepplin IV
(Led Zeppelin IV
). She was voted "Female singer of the year" by Melody Maker
in 1970 and 1971. Together with contemporaries including Richard Thompson
and Ashley Hutchings
, she participated in a one-off project called The Bunch
, recording a collection of rock standards.
She gained a devoted cult following, but remained deprecating of her talent and unsure of her true direction. Some of her best-loved recordings are interpretations of British traditional song. Denny herself was unsure as to whether she wanted to continue in that vein (in the manner of Steeleye Span
and Maddy Prior
) or that of a singer-songwriter
like Joni Mitchell
. She also had yearnings for success in the mass market, for which her shy, unpredictable nature and her insecurities about her looks (she was short and slightly overweight) were ill suited. Her solo albums feature efforts in all three directions, gaining her a reputation for charming eclecticism rather than the star power she and Lucas craved.
Her charisma and extraordinary alto voice were never in doubt. Unfortunately, the stress of the Fairport Convention world tour in 1973 helped to make it apparent that Denny's heavy drinking and smoking were damaging her voice, inclining her to put elaborate string arrangements on her last two solo albums (Like an Old-Fashioned Waltz
). These heavily produced albums were not as well received by the critics. Denny began to question her career goals in earnest and decided to turn her attention to raising a family. At the same time, her substance abuse became critical and her behavior, always erratic, became sufficiently trying to alienate most of her fellow musicians, including Trevor Lucas and her other colleagues in Fairport Convention.
Sandy Denny died of a cerebral haemorrhage
on 21 April 1978
, after falling down a flight of stairs. The exact circumstances of her death are somewhat murky. Most likely, she fell at her parents' home and the fatal haemorrhage occurred several weeks later. The confusion occurred due to friends' efforts to protect the privacy of Denny's family regarding the messier details of her life, specifically Denny's long-term abuse of alcohol and her marital troubles (she was living apart from Lucas and their daughter at the time of her death). Denny was only 31.
The full story was finally told in Clinton Heylin
's biography, No More Sad Refrains
. After her death, Trevor Lucas returned to Australia
with their daughter, Georgia. He died in 1989
of heart failure
Sandy Denny's renown grew after her death and her songs have been covered by many other artists. She is considered a founder of the British folk rock movement and perhaps its most important female singer and personality.
* The Original Sandy Denny
* Sandy Denny and the Strawbs
* Fairport Convention: What We Did on Our Holidays
* Fairport Convention: Heyday
* Fairport Convention: Unhalfbricking
* Fairport Convention: Liege & Lief
* Fotheringay: Fotheringay
* The North Star Grassman and the Ravens
* The Bunch: Rock On
* Like an Old Fashioned Waltz
* Fairport Live Convention (1974)
* Fairport Convention: Rising for the Moon
* The BBC Sessions 1971-1973 (1997)
* Gold Dust--Live at the Royalty
* A Boxful of Treasures
, a boxed set of rare recordings released in 2004
She also appears on:
* "The Battle of Evermore" on Led Zeppelin's 55px|Led Zepplin IV
, where she sings a duet with Robert Plant;
* several live Fairport Convention albums;
* several Fairport Convention compilations (notably, The History of Fairport Convention
contains several recordings which were released as solo works or with bands other than Fairport Convention);
* several compilations and re-releases of her original albums.
*The song "Remember", on the Groove Armada
(2003), is composed of Denny's vocals, sample
d from her song "Autopsy" (from Fairport Convention's Unhalfbricking
album), backed by The London Community Gospel Choir
* (2005) Colin Harper, Trevor Hodgett, Irish Folk, Trad & Blues: A Secret History
. Cherry Red. ISBN 1-901447-40-5.
* (2002) Clinton Heylin, No More Sad Refrains : The Life and Times of Sandy Denny
. Helter Skelter Publishing. ISBN 1-900924-35-8.
Denny was namechecked in the printed lyric of the Spice Girls
song "The Lady is a Vamp" by accident. When the CD booklet was printed, a line referring to Sandy and Danny (characters from the film Grease) was misprinted as "Sandy Denny, summer love".
The Ocean Colour Scene
song "She's Been Writing" (from the North Atlantic Drift
album) is about Sandy Denny.Kate Bush
's song, "Blow Away (For Bill)" on her album Never for Ever
, mentions Sandy Denny. In this song Kate Bush ponders the existence of an afterlife and recalls departed friends and musicians, Buddy Holly
and Marc Bolan
are among the others mentioned.
* http://www.sandydenny.co.uk/ Sandy Denny memorial page
* http://www.myspace.com/sandydenny Sandy Denny MySpace page including rare video clips
* http://club.telepolis.com/sandydenny/ Sandy Denny en castellano
's Fresh Air
by Ed Ward, November 14
">http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5011735 Audio feature on NPR
's Fresh Air
by Ed Ward, November 14
(requires audio player)
* http://www.guardian.co.uk/arts/fridayreview/story/0,12102,1476963,00.html 'You had to hold on to the furniture when Sandy sang'
(Guardian Unlimited, Arts Friday Review, 6 May 2005).
* http://www.geocities.com/solukmavi/sd-lyrics1.html "In a Lonely Moment"
By Clive James (Let It Rock
Magazine, UK, March 1974; Reprinted in Fiddlestix,
Issue 38, Spring 1995)
* http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=20256 Sandy Denny's Gravesite
* http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/SandyDennyList/ Sandy Denny List
* http://www.geocities.com/solukmavi/sd.html Sandy Denny List Frequently Asked QuestionsDenny, SandyDenny, SandyDenny, SandyDenny, SandyDenny, SandyDenny, Sandyde:Sandy Dennynl:Sandy Dennysv:Sandy Denny