Recalled by fiddler Nic Jones as “a very individual, highly creative and expressive singer” and now hailed for his uncompromising style and stance, Peter Bellamy died today in 1991.
Death of folk singer Peter Bellamy, at the age of 47. Norfolk-raised and art school trained, Bellamy began his musical career in 1965 with Heather Wood and Royston Wood (who were unrelated) as The Young Tradition.
Named after the London folk club where they first met, they recorded three albums and one with Shirley Collins (a festive effort: “The Holly Bears The Crown”), appearing at the 1967 Newport Folk Festival
Disbanding in 1969 – a year after the release of his first solo album - Peter concentrated on traditional material, accompanying himself on accordion or guitar but often singing unaccompanied.
Widening his gaze to set the writings of Rudyard Kipling to a series of albums beginning with 1970′s“Oak, Ash And Thorn” and culminating in “The Barrack Room Ballads”, Bellamy also penned a concept album, “The Transports” (a ‘ballad-opera’ , in his own words) - about forced transportation of criminals from Norfolk to Australia in the 18th century.
Recording “The Transports” with a cast including such folk luminaries as June Tabor, The Watersons and Martin Carthy, Peter would also create “The Maritime Suite” as he attempted to expand his boundaries away from English traditionalist folk.
Tragically, Peter took his own life just weeks after his 47th birthday, in apparent frustration at a lack of appreciation from critics, fellow performers and the public.
Sometimes confrontational and often enigmatic, Bellamy was never universally admired within the folk community, but his legacy lives on into the present day – Bellowhead covering his “Cholera Camp” on their 2008 release, “Matachin”.
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And here’s some rare footage of Peter in action: