Business as usual as Fairport Convention enter 51st year

Last year Fairport Convention celebrated their golden anniversary.

Monday, 5th February 2018, 7:40 am
Updated Friday, 8th June 2018, 3:16 am
Fairport Convention
Fairport Convention

They are back this year with their Fifty Plus One tour, taking in Worthing’s Connaught Theatre on Thursday, February 15 at 7.30pm.

Ric Sanders laughs: “I can’t think how we managed to come up with that title!”

But it will certainly build on a glorious year of celebration: “It was a great year, really fantastic. For a band that started in the 1960s… well, there are not many bands like that left. Just the Stones – and they had a few years on us!

“But really, last year in a way was business as usual, though the Cropredy Festival was a big highlight because we got as many past members as we could to come and play. I think there have actually been 28 people in Fairport, but most of those changes came very early on.

“I joined in 1985, and I am the third longest-serving member. Since I joined, there have only been a couple of changes of line-up.

“I guess changes are more likely in the early days when a band is just starting up and I think there will always perhaps be people who are looking for a solo career. Richard Thompson had to have a solo career. He was so prolific and so brilliant, and the same could be said of Sandy Denny. The band wasn’t always going to be a lifetime’s work.

“But by the time I joined Fairport, it had already been going a pretty long time. I grew into it, and it has always been a very happy band. We enjoy each other’s company. You hear about the different musicians in a band each turning up in their own limousine. We just all turn up in the same van!

“To me, a Fairport show has always been a meeting of friends. It’s all like an extended family. There are so many people in the audience whose names we know – and if we don’t know the names, we recognise their faces. It has always been a very social band, and we have not been hampered by commercial success, which is a good thing really. Simon Nicol has a great quote. He says that Fairport has survived despite the music industry, not because of it. We are like a cottage industry. We are not part of the mainstream music industry. We do our own thing.

“I was very lucky to join Fairport at the time I did. The band had been inactive for seven years. They split up in 79 for various reasons, and it was a time when the music industry was about punk and new wave just going into new romantic. There was no place really for a band like Fairport Convention at that time.

“What happened was that everyone in the band was doing their own thing, but the three main protagonists – Simon Nicol, a founder member; Dave Pegg who had been there since 1969; and Dave Mattacks – had some new material that they wanted to record, including some great stuff by Ralph McTell, and so they wanted to do an album.

“Dave Pegg had expanded his home studio, and so they had a studio where they could do it. They asked Dave Swarbrick if he wanted to play, and he didn’t. He didn’t quite go along with the material, and he had his own thing going. So it was just the three of them on the album – and a few guests. Three of the tracks called for fiddle, and I was lucky enough to get the call. I knew them anyway. I had always loved Fairport.”

When the album took off, gigs soon followed – and so Ric was drafted in as a permanent member of the revived band.

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