Personalities | Davey Graham | Taking Folk to Rock | Guitar Heroes

Davey Graham (b. 1940) (originally Davy Graham) is a guitarist who is credited with sparking the folk-rock revolution in the UK in the Sixties. He inspired many of the famous fingerstyle guitarists, such as Bert Jansch, John Renbourn, Martin Carthy, Paul Simon and even Jimmy Page, who heavily based his solo ‘White Summer’ on Graham’s ‘She Moved Thru’ The Bizarre/Blue Raga’.

Graham was born to a Guyanese mother and a Scottish father and he took up the guitar at the age of 12. As a teenager, he was strongly influenced by Steve Benbow, who played a guitar style influenced by Moroccan music. At the age of 19, Graham wrote what is probably his most famous piece, the acoustic solo tune ‘Anji’. Jansch included it on his 1965 debut album as ‘Angie’. But the spelling ‘Anji’ became the most popular after it appeared in this way on Simon & Garfunkel’s best-selling album Sounds Of Silence (1966).

Graham introduced the DADGAD guitar tuning to British guitarists. The tuning allowed the guitarist more freedom to improvise in the treble while maintaining a solid underlying harmony and rhythm in the bass.

During the Sixties Graham released a string of eclectic albums with music from all around the world in all kinds of genres. His continuous touring of the world and adaptation of foreign styles resulted in many crediting him with founding world music. He was the subject of a 2005 BBC Radio documentary ‘Whatever Happened To Davey Graham?’. He also was featured in the BBC Four documentary ‘Folk Britannia’. Graham recorded only sporadically after the Sixties, although he performed with the renowned acoustic guitar wizards Stefan Grossman and Duck Baker.

In the twenty-first century, Graham worked closely and consistently with singer-songwriter Mark Pavey. Graham has also worked with familiar guitarists and friends, including Bert Jansch, Duck Baker and Martin Carthy. Graham’s final album Broken Biscuits, featured originals and new arrangements of traditional songs from around the world. In 2008, Graham was diagnosed with lung cancer. He died in December of that year.

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