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Fotheringay

One could say FOTHERINGAY came about literally by accident; sadly it was the motorway-crash death of FAIRPORT CONVENTION drummer Martin Lamble (on 12th May, 1969) that in turn led to singer Sandy Denny leaving the said band and joining forces with new beau and husband-to-be, Australian singer-songwriter/guitarist Trevor Lucas. The latter had released a few solo LPs in his homeland before relocating to England to form ECLECTION with drummer Gerry Conway. In 1970, with Jerry Donahue (lead guitar) and Pat Donaldson (bass), Denny, Lucas and Conway, FOTHERINGAY were formed, taking their moniker from one of Sandy’s magical FC contributions – the Elizabethan English castle where Mary, Queen of Scots was imprisoned for so long.
With producer Joe Boyd at the controls, the cosmopolitan quintet recording their only album, simply titled FOTHERINGAY (1970) {*7}, endearing from the get-go with its colourful ye olde-fashioned artwork sleeve. Singer-songwriter Sandy was behind half the songs, princely treasures such as `Nothing More’, `The Sea’, `The Pond And The Stream’, and to a lesser extent, `Winter Winds’ and `Peace In The End’ (the latter penned with Trevor, who wrote `The Ballad Of Ned Kelly’). She was also at her pastoral best on Napoleonic Wars-era ballad, `Banks Of The Nile’, while Lucas tried his hand at covers by BOB DYLAN (`Too Much Of Nothing’) and GORDON LIGHTFOOT (`The Way I Feel’). Although the album and the group were well-received by folk-rock fans (the LP hit Top 20), FOTHERINGAY dispersed after a misunderstanding between Boyd and solo-bound SANDY DENNY.
A second LP was planned, partly recorded but shelved. The sessions were later unearthed by Donahue, who, with surviving musicians Donaldson and Conway, reconstructed the master tapes for release some 30-odd years later as FOTHERINGAY 2 (2008) {*6}. A belated success indeed, it surprised modern-day folk acolytes while whetting the appetite of the FAIRPORT family-tree purists. Denny’s `John The Gun’, `Late November’ and her renditions of traditional ballads `Gypsy Davey’ and `Wild Mountain Thyme’ (plus Reynolds-Rhodes standard `Silver Threads And Golden Needles’ and DAVE COUSINS’ `Two Weeks Last Summer’), were the showpieces here, although the band had their fair share of the limelight through Trevor Lucas’ LIGHTFOOT-like `Restless’ and `Knights Of The Road’. A dull, country-esque cover of DYLAN’s `I Don’t Believe You’ and further Lucas-sung trad fare, `Eppie Moray’ and `Bold Jack Donahue’, solidified what one always thought, that FOTHERINGAY were poor cousins of folk legends FAIRPORT CONVENTION.
With DENNY carving out her solo career throughout the rest of the 70s (until she tragically died of a brain haemorrhage on April 21, 1978), the band also took off to other pastures, all except Donaldson (who joined The BUNCH), spending time with the aforementioned Convention. Conway was the arguably the most prolific, being part of CAT STEVENS’ group while having stints with STEELEYE SPAN and JETHRO TULL. Sadly, LUCAS also died prematurely, heart failure taking him on February 4, 1989.
© MC Strong 2010/GFD // rev-up MCS Jul2012

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