Guitar virtuoso was key to U.K. folk scene

Guitarist, singer and songwriter Bert Jansch, who defined the English folk music movement with his solo performances and his work with the Pentangle, died Wednesday, Oct. 5, of lung cancer in a North London hospice. He was 67.

Born in Glasgow, Scotland, Jansch established himself in Edinburgh before arriving in London in January 1963. Inspired as a player by the work of American bluesman Brownie McGhee and British picker Davy Graham (whose “Anji” would become a staple of his performances) and as a songwriter by his paramour Annie Briggs, Jansch burst onto the folk scene with his self-titled Transatlantic album of 1965.

Jansch was already well established as a dazzling finger-picker and songwriter — and an influence on players as diverse as Jimmy Page and Paul Simon — when he co-founded a folk-based group in 1967 with fellow guitar virtuoso John Renbourn. The Pentangle (later known simply as Pentangle) included vocalist Jacqui McShee, acoustic bassist Danny Thompson and drummer Terry Cox. The act’s eclectic releases on Warner Bros. helped spread the English folk gospel internationally.

After the dissolution of Pentangle in 1973, Jansch briefly exited music for farming, but he split with his family and returned to recording in 1976. He regrouped with Pentangle in the early ’80s.

He recorded sporadically as a soloist through the new millennium: His final release was 2006’s widely praised “The Black Swan.”

Jansch is survived by his wife and son.

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