Since the late 1960s Dick Gaughan has been singing, recording, talking and fighting the good fight. He has one of the most powerful and expressive voices on the current folk scene and, added to that, he is one of the finest acoustic guitarists. His instrumental album, Coppers and Brass, is a superb example of both his art and his respect for his roots – his paternal grandfather was a Mayo man and a traditional fiddler, while Dick’s mother was a native Gallic speaker.
I have known Dick since the late 1960s, when he used to stay with us in Manchester and later in Yorkshire while on tour, and what has always impressed me is that whatever he sings, whether it’s a love song from the Scottish tradition or a modern political song like Ed Pickford’s Workers’ Song, there is total commitment and total understanding of his music.
His influence on younger singers has been immense and he has earned the respect of fellow performers across the world, from Billy Bragg to Pete Seeger. His uncompromising stance has not won him many friends in the Establishment but he is dearly loved by many, who recognise in him integrity, empathy and the determination to sing it as he sees it.
His belief that folk music is the people’s music and not something to be packaged and sold, tarted up and emasculated by Tin Pan Alley, has meant that he has always been there to remind us of the strength and truth that lies within this great tradition of ours.