Sunday, 16 February 2014

Hamish Imlach (1940 - 1996)

Hamish Imlach was born in 1940 in Calcutta, India to Scottish parents. He grew up in Glasgow and went to the same school as Ray and Archie Fisher, who introduced him to folk music. Hamish became a competent guitar player and lyrist combining pithy wit with traditional airs to become a leading folk singer of the 60s. He was a regular at the folk clubs of Edinburgh and the Scotia bar in Glasgow. He became an activist at the Holy Loch anti- nuclear protests and along with Josh Macrae, Jackie O'Connor, Nigel Denver and Morris Blythman (aka Thurso Berwick) created a body of songs that is still to be heard on demonstrations across the globe.

Self Christened the Fat Folk singer, he was the first to bring to public notice the political songs of Hamish Henderson, the Scots poet who’s "Freedom Come-all-ye" has become virtually a second national anthem for Scotland.

The public image of Hamish Imlach was of a boozing, belly-laughing raconteur that sang very funny songs. As a folk singer and musician however he influenced many other artists, including most notably John Martyn and Billy Connolly.

He was also invited to join the Dubliners, and became a friend of Christy Moore, doyen of Ireland's contemporary traditionalists.

His fame extended well beyond Scotland and he was a popular live act in Germany and across Scandinavia. His love of life was frequently caught in his songs and live performances and although he did not enjoy great commercial success from his many recordings he did give many people pleasure at his live performances.

Hamish Imlach did not always enjoy great health but continued to work none the less and toured regularly with Iain MacKintosh as well as doing solo tours. In 1992 he published his biography, “Cod Liver Oil and the Orange Juice - Reminiscences of a Fat Folk Singer”. For the last 18 months of his professional life he worked with Kate Kramer, a Canadian fiddle player and singer living in Scotland.

Sadly Hamish died in the early hours of Hogmanay morning in 1996.

Worth a listen
Scottish Sabbath (1969)
Twelve and a tanner a bottle (1969)
The Calton Weavers (1969)
Cod Liver Oil and the Orange Juice (1969)
The Skye Boat Song (1979)
The D Day Dodgers (1979)

Hamish Imlach and Iain Mackintosh
A mans a man for a’that (1979)
The Roving Ploughboy (1979)

Hamish Imlach, Kate Kramer, and Murial Graves
Mary Alice Jones (1996)
Hills of Lorne (1996)
Jock of Bredeslie (1996)

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