Sandy Denny

Sandy Denny

"You had to hold on to the furniture when Sandy sang" – Guardian Unlimited, Arts Review

Sandy Denny : Listen on Real Audio

Although plagued by self doubt Sandy Denny was arguably one of the best female singers to emerge from the British folk scene. While she was also a talented guitarist, pianist and songwriter she is primarily remembered for her voice.

Sandy Denny was born in Wimbledon, London in 1947. An accomplished musician from an early age she sang in the school choir while learning to play guitar and piano. It was while she was at college that she appeared on the London folk scene singing traditional folk songs alongside newer work such as that of Bob Dylan. She was an immediate success and this enabled her to leave college and concentrate on her music.

Starting to write her own songs Sandy worked the British folk scene, building up an enviable reputation. This resulted in her singing on the BBC and releasing her first album. With her profile building in 1968 she was asked to join the Strawbs. While this partnership only lasted for six months it did result in one album and the first recording of probably her most famous song “Who Knows Where The Time Goes?”

Following her time with the Strawbs Sandy joined Fairport Convention and introduced her love for traditional folk songs to the group. Sandy’s voice was the perfect ‘instrument’ to match Richard Thompson’s guitar and the group recorded three classic albums – “What We Did On Our Holidays”, “Unhalfbricking” and “Leige and Leif”.

Fairport Convention’s final album with Sandy, “Leige and Leif” invented British folk-rock and set the standard that others are still trying to match. It is one of the biggest selling British folk albums of all time and in 2006 won the BBC’s “Most Influential Folk Album of All Time” award.

In 1969 Sandy left Fairport Convention and formed Fotheringay. While the group recorded some of Sandy’s best work (such as “Nothing More”) they only survived for one album before the pressures of bad management forced them to split.

Returning to a solo career Sandy continued to record work that was appreciated by fans and critics alike. Again her voice was supported by the guitar playing of Richard Thompson. At the very pinnacle of her profession she was voted Britain’s best female singer in 1971 and 1972 by the British music press.

Sandy married in 1973 and returned to Fairport Convention the following year for one album. Whilst she worked on a further solo release most of her time was concentrated on her married life and raising her daughter over the following years.

  • Before enrolling at Art College Sandy originally began to train as a nurse at Brompton Chest Hospital.

  • Sandy duets with Robert Plant on “The Battle Of Evermore” - the only guest vocalist on any Led Zeppelin album.

  • The Spice Girls’ song “The Lady is a Vamp” accidentally namechecks Sandy Denny. The CD lyric sheet refers to “Sandy Denny, summer love” rather than “Sandy and Danny, summer love”.



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