In the forefront of the revival of folk music in the 1960s, Ian Campbell was one of the few entertainers to record a single that made the charts. This was his version of Bob Dylan’s The Times They Are a-Changin’ (1965). Earlier this year, Campbell was recognised at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards for his “outstanding contribution to traditional music.”
He first performed with one of his three sisters, Lorna, in the Clarion Skiffle Group, founded in the mid-1950s. The band’s name then changed to the Ian Campbell Four and then to the Ian Campbell Folk Group.
In 1963, the band were signed up by Transatlantic Records and recorded the first of many albums. They appeared often on radio and television and toured in Britain and America, staging concerts at the Royal Albert Hall in London and the Newport Folk Festival.
When the groundbreaking Radio Ballads were initiated by Ewan MacColl, Peggy Seeger and Charles Parker, Campbell was one of the singers they chose to take part. For several years, the Campbell family ran a highly successful folk club, The Jug O’ Punch, usually at Digbeth Civic Hall in Birmingham.
After the group disbanded in 1978, Campbell sat for a degree in theatre studies at Warwick University and then worked on ITV breakfast show TV-am. Three of his sons are, or have been, members of the band UB40. A fourth was its manager.
Campbell, who was born on June 10, 1933, died on November 24, aged 79.