Bert Jansch debut

Herbert Jansch (AKA Bert Jansch) was born near Glasgow on the 3th of November 1943. His family descended from Hamburg (Germany) and settled in Scotland during the Victorian era. He grew up in Edinburgh where he went to the local folk club "The Howff". He came inspired by Big Bill Broonzy, Pete Seeger, Brownie McGhee and Woody Guthrie. After leaving school, Jansch took a job as a nurseryman. But he stopped working as a nurseryman in August 1960 to be become a full time musician. He started sleeping and performing at "The Howff". He didn't had enough money to buy his own guitar. Played at several folk clubs and learned a lot from other people like Anne Briggs. 

Bert in London 1965

From 1963 to 1965 he travelled around Europe and beyond to perform in bars, cafes and on the streets. Another folk artist named Davy Graham inspired him to do so. Before leaving Glasgow he married a 16-year old girl named Lynda Campbell. She couldn't travel with him because she was too young to have a passport. So after a few months they already split. In 1963 he was invited to become a singer at Bunjies on Great Litchfield Street in London. He also performed together with Paul Simon. So Bert was familiar with "Sound Of Silence" before it became a hit when Paul sung it with Art Garfunkel. He then lived together with Anne Briggs in a squat in Earl's Court. It was Briggs who taught Jansch the traditional song "Blackwaterside" which he recorded on his "Jack Orion" album in 1966.

Bert in 1965

In London he met the engineer and producer Bill Leader. They recorded some songs on a reel-to-reel tape recorded at Bill's home. Bill then sold the tape for £100 to Transatlantic Records who produced an album directly from it. So his debut album was born and released in 1965 and sold 150,000 copies at that time. It included the protest song "Do You Hear Me Now" that would be covered a year later by Donovan on his Universal Soldier EP that reached #1 in the UK. Another song was "Needle of Death" with an anti-drugs statement written after his friend and also folk artist Buck Polly died of a heroin overdose. The album ends with a cover of Davy Graham's "Angie". Another cover on the album is "Smokey River" from James Giuffre.

Jansch and Renbourn

Bert later shared a flat with John Renbourn in Kilburn. He was also a folk artist who would become a close friend. Bert met many other artists in London like Wizz Jones and Roy Harper. Bert and John Renbourn often performed together in a style called folk baroque. In 1966 they released an album together. Bert would later form the folk group Pentangle with John Renbourn. 

His music was a big inspiration for many artist like: Neil Young, Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin, Johnny Marr of The Smiths and Noel Gallagher of Oasis. Also Donovan referred to Bert in his songs ("Bert's Blues" and "House of Jansch"). If you like to hear an album that will impress you where only a guitar and vocals rule this is an album you should try out.

Original album cover

Bert Jansch (1965)
Strolling Down the Highway / Smokey River / Oh How Your Love Is Strong / I Have No Time / Finches / Rambling’s Gonna Be the Death of Me / Veronica / Needle of Death / Do You Hear Me Now? / Alice’s Wonderland / Running From Home / Courting Blues / Casbah / Dreams of Love / Angie

Needle Of Death EP (1966)
Running From Home / Tinker's Blues / Needle Of Death / Green Are Your Eyes (Courting Blues)  / The Wheel


Running from Home

Oh How Your Love Is Strong

Veronica

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