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- Posted on Jul 25th 2008 5:00PM by James Sullivan
Inspired by West Coast groups such as Love and the Byrds and quickly dubbed the "British Jefferson Airplane," Fairport Convention were nudged toward a kind of psychedelic interpretation of more traditional folk music with the 1968 addition of singer Denny. When she first auditioned, one bandmate would recall, the wondrously talented Denny stood out "like a clean glass in a sinkful of dirty dishes." Her song 'Who Knows Where the Time Goes' and the group's fourth album, 'Liege & Lief,' are considered definitive examples of the genre.vermore.
Before the release of 'Liege & Lief,' the young group met its first tragedy when its van flipped off the highway after a gig. Killed in the crash were 19-year-old drummer Martin Lamble and Jeannie Franklyn, Richard Thompson's girlfriend at the time. Though Denny was safely driving home in a separate car with her future husband, her time would come soon enough.
After the album, Denny left the group to form a new one, Fotheringay, with her boyfriend Trevor Lucas. She made a guest appearance on 'Led Zeppelin IV,' singing with Robert Plant on 'The Battle of Evermore.' Around this time, her former bandmates narrowly escaped another catastrophe when a truck smashed into their collective home, a former pub ironically called the Angel.
Denny and Lucas were soon making solo albums under her name, but the tension between her folk-purist instincts and her desire to reach a mainstream audience left the singer conflicted and unsatisfied. Denny reportedly drank heavily during her pregnancy with the couple's first child, and after the birth Lucas took the baby and left her for his native Australia.
Weeks before, Denny had fallen while visiting her parents, cracking her head on a stone. Her headaches grew worse, but it wasn't until another tumble down a staircase at a friend's house that she was rushed to the hospital, where she fell into a coma with a massive brain hemorrhage. Emergency surgery was unsuccessful, and she died on April 21, 1978. She was 31.
And Fairport's best-known song, 'Meet on the Ledge,' would sound morbidly prescient for evermore.