Fairport’s Fortieth

The group that enjoys the most loyal fans of all will celebrate with around 30,000 of them this month at Cropredy. Kingsley Abbott joins the party.

Forty years ago a group of north Londoners barely out of school began a journey that, even in their wildest dreams, they would not have anticipated ending with them a highly collectable and respected name, with a gold album, dozens of different members, and a chequered history as rich as any of their contemporaries.

Periods of stability in line-ups have been rare in Fairport Convention’s history, though the current one appears to be more settled than most, as within its ranks are one original member, two contemporaries from other late sixties bands, and two members who began as fans. As the group convene with tens of thousands of fans for the annual festival at Cropredy, they took time to examine their lengthy history with Record Collector.

Drummer Jerry Conway was a member of Eclection in 1968 when he first took note of Fairport, and his appraisal matches what many people thought when they first encountered an English group tackling obscure West Coast material then: “We did share occasional stages together at places like Mothers in Birmingham. As Eclection, we always thought that they were a great band, even though we were always supporting them! We were doing different things, but Fairport Convention was a beacon – a band to be watched and learned from.”

Watching Fairport then introduced many of the …

by Kingsley Abbott
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