john renbourn

Renbourn performing with Jacqui McShee at Whelans, Wexford St., Dublin on October 5th, 2010.
Photo by Sean Rowe

The prodigiously talented and influential British guitarist helped shape modern folk through his fusion of jazz, blues, psychedelia, medieval song, and ethnic music.

John Renbourn, who passed away from a heart attack in Scotland on March 26 at age 70, was one of the most talented guitarists of his—or any—generation. Though he possessed incomparable chops and uncommon melodic gifts, he was also a living bridge that linked wildly divergent styles—Anglo, Asian, African, and American—and spanned hundreds of years of guitar music and history. Using the ’60s British folk explosion as a launch pad, he melded that history with his own fascinating musical predilections to create a singular, deeply personal, and massively influential body of work.

Trained in the rigors of classical guitar as a youth, Renbourn had the natural ability, skills, and musical resourcefulness to take his playing in any direction. But like so many British youth of his age, he was smitten with American rock ’n’ roll and blues.

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