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Tony Rose


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The Independent’s obituary for Tony Rose said “A beautifully relaxed interpreter of traditional song, with rare warmth and intimacy, Tony Rose made an indelible mark on the British folk scene. Emerging during the 1970s when folk clubs were still a force to be reckoned with, he was wholly committed to the grass roots scene, eschewing the seemingly sexier terrain of folk rock bands, modern song and political material that seduced so many of his contemporaries.

He loved traditional music and while it never brought him riches – indeed he returned to his first job as a teacher when the folk clubs themselves hit a recession in the late 1980s – he saw no reason to deviate widely from it. Accompanying himself on guitar and English concertina, he established an easy style that was instantly identifiable, putting him on a par with such giants of the era as Martin Carthy and Nic Jones.

Born in Exeter in 1941, Rose was smitten by folk song at Oxford University in the early 1960s, where he had won a scholarship to study Modern Languages at Queen’s College. He first heard the British folk pioneers Louis Killen, Shirley Collins, Alex Campbell and Johnny Handle at the university’s Heritage Society. He was also profoundly influenced by another West Country singer, Cyril Tawney, the ex-Navy man turned songwriter. Rose cut his musical teeth at his local folk club, the Jolly Porter in Exeter, where he became an occasional member of the resident band the Journeymen.

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