Published Jun 03, 2016Dave Swarbrick, veteran folk musician and original fiddle player for UK outfit Fairport Convention, has sadly passed away, his family has confirmed. A cause of death has yet to be revealed. He was 75 years old.
The band shared the news on their website today (June 3), and they posted the following message:
We have just had the sad news from Alex Swarbrick that his father, Dave Swarbrick, has passed away. Swarb, as you know, had been seriously ill for some time and, although he had showed recent signs of improvement, died in hospital this morning. Our thoughts right now are with his wife Jill and the Swarbrick family.
Born in New Malden, England, in 1941, Swarbrick took up the violin at an early age. At 15, he switched to guitar and played in a skiffle group, but would later return to the fiddle. Nicknamed "Swarb," he began to perform with folk musician Beryl and would also take a side-career scoring radio programs.
In 1959, he hooked up with the Ian Campbell Folk Group, playing with the band until 1965. The '60s saw him performing on records from English folksmith Al Lloyd, including 1966's The Bird in the Bush and the next year's Leviathan!
He'd also meet Martin Carthy in the '60s, which led to a fruitful, prolific period for both musicians. Guitarist Carthy was the marquee artist of their first three studio collaborations, but they shared top-billing on 1968's But Two Came By. During this time, Swarbrick also delivered his first solo LP, 1967's Rags, Reels, and Airs.
In 1969, he joined Fairport Convention in the studio to contribute to their third album, Unhalfbricking. The release found the band exploring folk music, with Swarbrick playing electric fiddle on four tracks. He'd soon join the band full time, and quickly recorded folk-rock follow-up Liege & Lief.
Swarbrick would remain with Fairport Convention until 1984, but would continue a solo career and collaborate with a number of musicians up until his death. He would also appear onstage for performances with Fairport in 2010 and 2011.
Swarbrick had long battled with emphysema, and received a double lung transplant in 2004. In 1999, after being hospitalized for a chest infection, the Daily Telegraph had erroneously published an obituary for the musician, which led him to quip: "It's not the first time I've died in Coventry."
The folk musician is survived by artist and wife Jill Banks, his children Emily, Alexander and Isobel, eight grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.