He passed away at home, aged 70

Tributes have been paid to John Renbourn, whose death was announced yesterday [March 26, 2015].

Fairport Convention‘s Simon Nicol told Uncut, “Another light has gone out. John made a uniquely important contribution to guitar music and I first became aware of his playing when I picked up the guitar in my early teens. John influenced more people than he ever knew and he knew a lot of people. He was much-loved and will be much-missed.”

Meanwhile, online David Crosby hailed him as “a great musician”.

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Other friends and fans including Gordon Giltrap, Riley Walker, Cerys Matthews, Andy Votel and Lauren Laverne also offered their condolences.

While several novelists including Ian Rankin and Jonathan Coe also paid tribute.

The news of Renbourn’s death was made public by Glasgow venue, The Ferry, where Renbourn, 70, had beem scheduled to play on Wednesday, March 25 as part of a UK tour with fellow musician, Wizz Jones.

Writing on their Facebook page, The Ferry said, “RIP John Renbourn. As his chosen Glasgow venue in recent years we are sad to announce the passing of our friend John Renbourn. All at The Ferry missed you last night, John!”

Speaking to Uncut, a member of staff at The Ferry confirmed Renbourn had failed to turn up for the March 25 show. “He didn’t show. nobody knew where he was. Wizz Jones was in the dark about what had happened. He did the show on his own. We tried to contact him. Wizz Jones called his agent [manager] this morning. He didn’t know what was happening so he called the police local to where he lived [Hawick, Scotland]. They went round to his house and found that he had died.”

Renbourn’s manager Dave Smith, who worked with him for 25 years, confirmed the news of his client’s passing to Uncut. It is believed the guitarist died from natural causes.



Renbourn enjoyed a wide-ranging career, as a solo artist, as a collaborator and also as a member of Pentangle.

Born in Marylebone in 1944, he became involved with the London folk scene in the early 1960s, where he met Bert Jansch. The two men recorded Bert And John in 1966.

Renbourn became a founding member of Pentangle the following year, along with Jansch, Danny Thompson, Jacqui McShee and Terry Cox.

The band’s first American tour included performances at the Newport Folk Festival and Fillmore West with the Grateful Dead.

This line-up of Pentangle stayed together until 1973, recording five albums: 1968’s The Pentangle and Sweet Child, 1969’s Basket Of Light, 1970’s Cruel Sister and 1971’s Reflection.

Renbourn also worked as a solo artist in tandem with his commitments in Pentangle.

He released his first, self-titled album in 1965.

During the 1980s, he received Grammy nominations for 1981’s Live In America with the John Renbourn Group, and Wheel Of Fortune, his 1983 collaboration with the Incredible String Band’s Robin Williamson.

His last studio album was 2011’s Palermo Snow.

Renbourn also released books and video lessons for aspiring guitarists, beginning with Guitar Pieces in 1972, and ran a series of guitar workshops. This year’s workshop was due to take place in Spain during September.

  • Steve Bromfield

    I met John in 65 whilst playing at Cousins, he used to invite me over for Sunday lunch where John and Bert played me their latest reel to reel stuff and I played them my latest guitar pieces with odd titles that I made-up, and John suggested I make up titles for their stuff too. They shared a house with Les Bridger and Bert used Les’s Martin for all his gigs at the time. We used to share Saturday all nighters between Cousins and the 51 club (Ken Colliers) I was the youngest guitarist playing at Les Cousins (17) at the time and John used to call me ‘Stevie Wonder’ after you know who. He showed me quite a bit on the guitar and he played a Scarth guitar at the time, and wow what a loud bright guitar that was! I wanted one!, he told me I could pick one up in Camden High St. for a fiver (a wild goose chase indeed) I met up with John over the years when in London ( (I living at Cape Town) Only this year I was thinking of attending his latest workshop in Spain, what a surprise for him, what a treat for me…O well, I look forward to a great blues jam in ‘A’ with you later, Love ‘Stevie Wonder’

  • patrick rafferty

    I remember John bringing a book into the studio,and showed the pose he wanted to copy,as a tribute to an influential blues guitarist,i wish i had listened when he told me who….So long,and thanks for all your kindness

  • Sarah Buck

    Bye bye John. thanks for the music and gigs in Appleton village hall. The brilliant weekends of music at the lock and for introducing me and my family to some amazing bright young musicians and those more established x x x

  • Jenni

    Bye John and thanks for the music.

  • This feels like the passing of an old friend. I’ve been listening to his timeless music practically all my life, and offhand I can’t think of another musician who has brought me so much knowledge and pleasure over the years. RIP John, and many, many thanks.

  • Pikes_Peak

    See ya John. It was nice having you on the planet for the time that we did