Obituary: John Renbourn

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JACQUI MCSHEE: “I was introduced to John in 1965 by Chris Ayliffe, a 12-string player I’d been singing with. John was doing the circuit with Bert Jansch, and we’d do floor spots together at places like Les Cousins. It wasn’t until years later that I found out that Chris was trying to push me towards them. I was just naively singing away, having a great time!

“John and Bert would play the folk club I worked at, the Red Lion in Sutton. One day, when Chris was off busking in France, he said to me: ‘I’m doing another album. Do you fancy singing on it?’ We started working together, and in 1967 we formed Pentangle with Bert, Danny Thompson [bass] and Terry Cox [drums].

“Pentangle was quite daunting. Many people used to devotedly follow John and Bert around, and their manager, Jo Lustig, didn’t want them to be tied to a band. But they took to it like ducks to water, and I have John to thank for my career because he insisted I stay when Lustig tried to get rid of me as he didn’t think I was commercial enough.

“John lived life like a gyspy, so carefree and generous. He and Bert would get us into scrapes, particularly with the innocence and enthusiasm of young kids visiting America for the first time. It’s because of John that I had those experiences and I will be forever grateful.

“John’s playing mesmerised me, and he’d really make me laugh. We toured together after Pentangle split [in 1973], and after the final Pentangle reunion gig [in 2011], and even in January this year he was asking me to join a band with some brothers he’d met. He was also working on an album with Wizz Jones that he’d asked me to contribute to. That may still happen – but not right now, it’s too soon. I still can’t quite believe he’s gone. He was in my life for so long, and as a friend. He was even larger than larger-than-life.”

John Renbourn: August 8, 1944 – March 26, 2015

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