Legendary acoustic guitar player Davy Graham died today.
He was 68.
As his official website notes, Graham was “Revered by several generations of guitarists, he invented the Folk -Baroque style, invented a modal tuning system for the guitar called DADGAD and composed the signature tune of the sixties folk revival, Anji” (most famously recorded by Paul Simon on the album The Sounds of Silence; my personal favorite version is by fellow British guitar wizard Bert Jansch).
While many celebrated guitar players, including Jimmy Page, Bert Jansch, John Renbourn, Martin Carthy, and Richard Thompson, acknowledged Graham’s playing as a primary source of influence and inspiration, Graham never achieved (or sought) wide popular recognition or commercial success. His style combined a mastery of the blues and traditional English folk music, and if you’ve heard any of the musicians listed above, you’ve heard the influence of Davy Graham.
Though he was generous and open with fellow musicians, Graham was often also cranky and cantankerous, and his decades-long struggles with alcoholism and drug addiction made him undependable and unpredictable as a live performer.
You can watch a video tribute to Graham from the Guardian here.
I’ve been listening to his music all afternoon.
If you love the sound of the acoustic guitar, if you’re a fan of the blues or traditional folk music, and if you’ve never heard of Davy Graham, this would be a good time to seek out his music and give it a listen.
If you know Davy Graham’s music, this would be a good time to listen again.