TRAGIC ENGLISH FOLK SINGER Sandy Denny didn’t leave Fairport Convention in November 1969 but was fired, claims her friend and fellow storied folk vocalist Linda Thompson in the latest issue of MOJO (May 2015/ #258), available in UK shops now. Denny parted company with the pioneering electric folk group not long after she failed to turn up for a flight to Copenhagen, where the Fairports were heading to perform on a TV show. Accounts from surviving band members insist she quit the group of her own volition, but Thompson suggests that’s untrue.
“They sacked Sandy, and that flabbergasted her more than anything.”
“They definitely sacked her,” the singer recalls in a feature about Denny’s contribution to Fairport Convention's classic 1969 album, Liege & Lief. “It wasn’t told that way. I think they knew she was in a state about it. When they were at the airport and Sandy didn’t show up, they could see how it was going to be; she didn’t want to tour, certainly not in America, and leave [boyfriend] Trevor Lucas, and they sacked her, and that flabbergasted her more than anything. ‘What! Sack me?’”
Bassist Ashley Hutchings, who left the Fairports around the same time, remembers that emotions were running high, not least because the band had recently lost drummer Martin Lamble and another close friend in a fatal road accident on the M1.
“Our reaction [to Sandy missing the flight] was, Well, f**k her,” Hutchings recalls. “We actually discussed whether this was the end for Sandy: If she doesn’t want to do it, we’ll get another singer in. We’ll ask her to leave. Then she was bundled on the plane and flew out the next day. And that didn’t make everything right and I remember being slightly disappointed that she turned up. We were manic, and I’m sure it was a delayed reaction to the crash.”
Sandy Denny would later die in 1978 following a fall.
MOJO's story is an extract from Mick Houghton’s superlative new Sandy Denny biography, I’ve Always Kept A Unicorn, published by Faber & Faber.
Plus watch Sandy Denny performing with Fairport Convention in 1969 below.
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