Bridget St John
|Bridget St John|
Bridget St John, 2003
|Birth name||Bridget Ann Hobbs|
4 October 1946 |
Surrey, England, UK
|Occupation(s)||Singer, guitarist, songwriter|
|Years active||1968–1976; 1999–present|
Bridget St John (born Bridget Ann Hobbs; 4 October 1946, Surrey) is an English singer-songwriter and guitarist, best known for the three albums she recorded between 1969 and 1972 for John Peel's Dandelion record label. Peel produced her debut album Ask Me No Questions. She also recorded a large number of BBC Radio and Peel sessions and toured regularly on the British college and festival circuit. St John appeared at leading folk venues in the U.K., along with other folk and pop luminaries of the time such as Nick Drake, Paul Simon, and David Bowie, among others. In 1974 she was voted fifth most popular female singer in that year's Melody Maker readers poll. Blessed with a rich, husky vocal style, she is also an accomplished guitar player who credits John Martyn and Michael Chapman as her "musical brothers".
St John grew up in a musical household where her mother and sisters were all accomplished pianists. She took piano lessons at her mother's behest, but she didn't get along with her teacher and quit when she was 11. After studying the viola for two years and then the trumpet for two years, St John bought a guitar with 20 pounds her grandmother gave her shortly before she finished high school. Her first performances were at Sheffield University in 1964-5, and her very first "proper gig" was at a pub in Rotherham.
Solo Career, 1968-1974
After St John returned to England, she met John Martyn in London. He was instrumental in getting St John's music out to a larger audience. In 1968 a mutual poet friend of theirs, Pete Roche, put St John in touch with John Peel for his "Nightride" radio show. St John's first recording sessions for Peel were recorded by Al Stewart in 1968 on Stewart's ReVox. The four songs she recorded were released on John Peel Presents Top Gear, Peel's 1969 compilation of BBC demos. The four songs were: "The River" (written by Martyn), "Song To Keep You Company" (written by St John), "Night In The City" (written by Joni Mitchell), and "Lazarus" (traditional).
Peel and Clive Selwood formed Dandelion initially to release St John's music. St John's 1969 debut album for Dandelion, Ask Me No Questions, was produced by Peel and recorded in nine to ten hours. "Curl Your Toes" and "Ask Me No Questions" featured Martyn on second guitar.
St John's second album Songs for the Gentle Man, was produced by Ron Geesin and released in 1971. This album was a significant step up from her debut, and contained string arrangements mostly by Geesin himself, particularly striking on the opening track "A Day A Way" and "Seagull- Sunday." Her third album Thank You For..., released in 1972, was even more ambitious and utilized more musicians with a folk-rock sound. The album was her last album for John Peel's Dandelion label, however, which folded due to its artists' lack of commercial success. St John's adventurous fourth album Jumble Queen, released through Chrysalis Records in 1974, garnered critical praise in Spare Rib.
Later Years, 1975-Present
St John emigrated to Greenwich Village in 1976 and virtually disappeared from the public eye for over 20 years. She took part in the Strawbs 25th Anniversary festival held in 1993. St John released a 'come-back' album in 1996, Take The Fifth and appeared at a Nick Drake tribute concert in New York in 1999. She toured Japan in 2006 with the minimalist French musician Colleen, and appeared with the Electric Strawbs in the B.B. King Blues Club and Grill (NYC) on 27 June 2007.
Aside from work under her own name, Bridget St John has also recorded with Mike Oldfield on his albums Ommadawn (1975) and Amarok (1990), as well as Kevin Ayers and Robin Frederick. In 2007 she reunited with Ayers to record "Baby Come Home" on his album The Unfairground.
- Top Gear (BBC) 1969 includes four tracks by St. John
- Ask Me No Questions (Dandelion) 1969
- John Martyn (guitar), Richard Sanders (guitar), Bridget St. John (vocals, guitar, keyboards), Simon Stable (bongos), producer: John Peel
- "To B Without A Hitch"
- "Autumn Lullaby"
- "Curl Your Toes"
- "Like Never Before"
- "The Curious Crystals of Unusual Purity "
- "Barefeet And Hot Pavements"
- "I Like to Be with You in the Sun" (Song for the Laird of Connaught Hall)
- "Lizard-Long-Tongue Boy"
- "Hello Again (Of Course)"
- "Many Happy Returns"
- "Broken Faith"
- "Ask Me No Questions"
- Songs for the Gentle Man (Dandelion) 1971
- Thank You For... (Dandelion) 1972
- Jumblequeen (Chrysalis) 1974
- Take the 5ifth (Road Goes on Forever) 1996
- Profile, ascap.com; accessed 29 September 2015.
- Brumbaugh, Sam. "Bridget St. John, Interview". Chickfactor #12, 1999.
- Richardson, Anna, unidentified article, Cumberland News, 2007; reproduced within the interview at the Wayback Machine (archived July 8, 2011) of St John's previous website.
- Davies, Gill. "Celtic Connections Festival 2012-Bridget St John", bbc.co.uk; retrieved 29 May 2013.
- Greenhorn, Meg. "Bridget St John - Interview". Cherry Red Records, 19 April 2009.
- Adams, Owen. "Label of love: Dandelion Records". The Guardian 7 October 2009.
- Conboy, Martin & Steel, John, eds. The Routledge Companion to British Media History, 2015. ISBN 9780415537186.
- Pullella, Philip. "Bridget St. John happy with move to the Village". St. Petersburg Times, 12 April 1978, p. 3D; retrieved 29 May 2013.
- Various sources, reproduced within the Interview at the Wayback Machine (archived July 8, 2011) of St John's previous website.
- McCarthy, Jerry. "Bridget St. John. dryden29.net, 27 June 2007.
- McCarthy, Jerry. "Songs We Love: Michael Chapman, 'That Time Of Night'. NPR, 12 October 2016.