Lou Killen

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(Redirected from Louisa Jo Killen)

Louisa "Lou" Jo Killen (born Louis Killen; 10 January 1934 – 9 August 2013) was an English folk singer from Gateshead, Tyneside, who also played the English concertina.[1]

Killen formed one of Britain's first folk clubs in 1958 in Newcastle upon Tyne, and became a professional folk singer in 1961. In the 1970s Killen recalled: "When I started Folk Song and Ballad in Newcastle in 1958 there weren't twenty folk clubs in the whole country, and when I left for the States (in 1966) there were maybe three hundred."[2] Recordings of Killen singing some Tyneside songs were included on both The Iron Muse (Topic Records 12T86, 1963) and the revised version on CD (Topic Records TSCD465) issued in 1993. The accompanying book to the Topic Records 70 year anniversary boxed set Three Score and Ten has a dust jacket picture featuring Killen with Frankie Armstrong; and one of the songs featured on both albums of The Iron Muse, The Blackleg Miners is track six of the sixth CD in the set.

Killen emigrated to the United States in 1967 and worked with Pete Seeger before joining The Clancy Brothers. In 1971, the Clancy Brothers brought in the singer who had introduced the English concertina to the music mix, Lou Killen. They recorded two studio albums on the Audio Fidelity label: Save the Land and Show Me the Way. Their next, and final, album for Audio Fidelity was a live album, Live on St. Patrick's Day in 1973, recorded the previous year at the Bushnell Auditorium in Hartford, Connecticut. In the mid 1970s Killen left the Clancys.

In the 1990s, Killen worked as the volunteer coordinator at the San Francisco Maritime Museum, also singing chanties there and interpreting to the public.[3][4][5]

A few years before Killen's death, she underwent a gender reassignment to become Louisa Jo.[6][7][8]

Killen died in 2013, at the age of 79.


Killen's solo recordings[9][10]
  • Bright Shining Morning Front Hall FH 006 (1975)
  • Old Songs, Old Friends Front Hall FH 012 (1978)
  • Steady as She Goes Collector 1928
  • The Iron Muse Topic Records 12T86 (1963); TSCD465(1993)
  • Sea Chanteys ESP-Disk' ESP 1085 (1968; 1994)
  • Tommy Armstrong of Tyneside Topic Records 12T122 (1965; 1997)
  • Ballads and Broadsides Topic Records 12T126 (1965; 2009)
  • Gallant Lads Are We Smithsonian Records 1932 (1980)
  • Sea Songs Smithsonian Folkways FTS 37311 (1979)
  • 50 South to 50 South Seaport SPT-102 (1972)
  • (with Johnny Handle) Along the Coaly Tyne Topic Records 12T189 (1971)
Lou Killen, Paddy Clancy, Tom Clancy, and Liam Clancy


  1. ^ Woods, Fred (1979) Folk Revival. Poole: Blandford Press; p. 74
  2. ^ Woods, Fred (1979) Folk Revival. Poole: Blandford Press; p. 58
  3. ^ "Louisa Jo Killen". www.telegraph.co.uk. 15 August 2013. Retrieved 28 June 2023.
  4. ^ Roos, John (1 May 1993). "Folk Singer Hears Call of the Sea Chanteys". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 28 June 2023.
  5. ^ "A guide to the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park Photo Lab records, 1963-2014". oac.cdlib.org. Retrieved 28 June 2023.
  6. ^ Mason, Stewart. Louis Killen biography at AllMusic. Retrieved 2 December 2021.
  7. ^ "Louis Killen: Biographical". The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem. Retrieved 2 December 2021.
  8. ^ Wood, Heather. "Louisa Jo (Louis) Killen Passes". Sing Out!. Archived from the original on 15 August 2013. Retrieved 2 December 2021.
  9. ^ Louis Killen discography at AllMusic. Retrieved 2 December 2021.
  10. ^ Pohle, Horst (1987) The Folk Record Source Book; 2nd ed. 1987; p. 245

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