Fotheringay c. 1970
|Genres||Folk rock/Electric folk|
|Associated acts||Fairport Convention
|Past members||Sandy Denny
Fotheringay was a short-lived British folk rock group, formed in 1970 by singer Sandy Denny on her departure from Fairport Convention. The band drew its name from her 1968 composition "Fotheringay" about Fotheringhay Castle, in which Mary, Queen of Scots had been imprisoned. The song originally appeared on the 1969 Fairport Convention album, What We Did on Our Holidays, Denny's first album with that group.
Two former members of Eclection, Trevor Lucas and Gerry Conway, and two former members of Poet and the One Man Band, Jerry Donahue and Pat Donaldson (bass), completed the line-up responsible for what was long assumed to be the quintet's only album. This folk-based set included several Denny originals, notably "Nothing More", "The Sea" and "The Pond and The Stream", as well as versions of Gordon Lightfoot's "The Way I Feel" and Bob Dylan's "Too Much of Nothing". Though, during the year of its original release, the album featured in the UK's two music papers' Top 20 (Melody Maker and NME), it did not meet commercial expectations, and pressures on Denny to undertake a solo career — she was voted Britain's number 1 singer (two years consecutively) in Melody Maker's readers poll — increased. The album peaked at No. 18 in the UK Albums Chart.
Fotheringay disbanded in January 1971, during sessions for a projected second album. Some of its songs surfaced on Denny's 1971 debut solo album, The North Star Grassman and the Ravens. Lucas, Conway and Donahue joined Fairport Convention in 1972 to record the Rosie album (on which some Fotheringay material was also used). However, Conway played on three tracks only and began session work afterwards. Both Conway and Donaldson have worked with Richard Thompson, amongst many others. Lucas and Donahue stayed with Fairport (the Nine album came out in 1973) for another couple of years, with Denny rejoining in 1974. This line-up recorded two additional albums: Fairport Live Convention (re-titled A Movable Feast in the US) and Rising for the Moon. Denny, along with Donahue and Lucas, left the band in December 1975. Conway eventually joined a reformed Fairport in 1997.
In 2007, the BBC announced that Donahue would be attempting to complete the abandoned project (which he accomplished using previously unheard takes from the original archived tapes). Permission had finally been granted and the work was completed by summer of the following year. The resulting album, titled Fotheringay 2, was released by Fledg'ling Records on 29 September 2008.
A special live performance by Fotheringay was recorded at Gruga-Halle in Essen, Germany, on 23 October 1970. The concert tapes have been re-mastered by Fotheringay guitarist Jerry Donahue, and the album was released on 2011.
A four-disc collection, Nothing More: The Collected Fotheringay, was released on March 30th 2015. This is the most comprehensive compilation of the group’s recordings.
In June of 2015, the three surviving members of the original band - Jerry Donahue, Gerry Conway and Pat Donaldson - reunited for six tour dates in the UK. They were joined by Kathryn Roberts (Equation, KR & Sean Lakeman), Sally Barker (The Poozies, ‘The Voice’) and PJ Wright (The Dylan Project and Little Johnny England) to provide the harmonious vocals in the absence of Denny.
- Fotheringay (Island/A&M, 1970)
- Fotheringay 2 (Fledg'ling Records, 2008)
- Fotheringay Essen 1970 (Thor's Hammer Records, 2011)
- Nothing More: The Collected Fotheringay (Universal Music, 2015)
- No More Sad Refrains: The Life And Times Of Sandy Denny, Clinton Heylin.
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 209. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
- Tobler, John (1992). NME Rock 'N' Roll Years (1st ed.). London: Reed International Books Ltd. p. 222. CN 5585.
- Ward, Philip, "Into the Light", R2 (Rock'n'Reel), 2(13), January/February 2009, pp37-39.