Bert Jansch
3/11/43 - 5/10/11

Scottish born Bert Jansch was a modest, quiet, unassuming man that I had the good fortune to meet on a couple of occasions and see perform live on a handful more, most recently when he played with the reformed Pentangle a few short months back at Cambridge Folk Festival.

To talk to him you wouldn't think you were talking to a man that has been revered by the likes Jimmy Page, Neil Young and countless other guitarists that have been influenced by the way he approached music on the acoustic guitar. He just wanted to talk about music, who he'd seen recently and artists that provided common point of reference. If the conversation did drift towards his playing, he would gently acknowledge the compliment and move the conversation on.

That's not to say that in the past he hadn't indulged in the rock 'n' roll lifestyle, it just didn't sit easy with him and like many of that generation he fought a battle with the bottle, one that he finally won, a victory that saw him return to making highly acclaimed albums and going back on the road and in classic Jansch style even wrote a song for the doctor that got him through it.

He already had two lifetime achievement awards, one solo and one with Pentangle, when lung cancer came after him for the first time in 2009, which for a while it looked like he'd beaten, but cancelled shows lead to rumours that it was back and unfortunately it was.

Scanning through the list of names paying tribute to him, you realise how wide his impact was, folk, rock and blues stars citing him as an influence. He leaves a wife and two sons and a legacy that will not be matched for a long time if ever.

Bert Jansch was a thoughtful and reflective songwriter, he treated old songs with a real reverence and breathed new life into them. His guitar playing truly did give him legend status and he will be missed.

Neil King

Bert Jansch - Black Waterside

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