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Critics' Choice
DAVE SWARBRICK, 1942-2016
6/3/16

Dave Swarbrick, the violin virtuoso who helped transform and define the U.K. folk-scene as a central member of Fairport Convention, died today at the age of 75.

A songwriter, arranger and singer, he began performing in folk groups in the late 1950s, among them the Ian Campbell Folk Group, recording his solo debut, Rags, Reels & Airs, with the guitarists Martin Carthy and Diz Disley in 1967. He joined Fairport Convention in 1969 as a fiddler, debuting on Liege and Lief.  The album, split between traditional U.K. folk songs and originals by Swarbrick, Sandy Denny and Richard Thompson, is considered not only a high water mark for the group, it signaled a decidedly British shift away from American folk-rock, establishing the group as leaders of the scene.

While the on Liege and Lief  lineup changed quickly in the early ‘70s, Swarbrick stayed in the group through 1979 and their intended final tour and album.

He led a fruitful solo career, working with Fairport Convention members and  participating in Fairport lineups for special occasion show; in 2007, the 1969 lineup—Chris While stood in for the late Denny—performed Liege & Lief in full.

Swarbrick had long suffered from emphysema, and at times needed an oxygen tank on stage during performances; in 2004 he received a double lung transplant. His health was such that after  a hospital stay in 1999, the Daily Telegraph prematurely published his obituary.

Swarbrick and Carthy, who won a BBC Radio 2 Folk Award for their 2006 album Straws in the Wind, were scheduled to tour the U.K. in September and October.