Sandy Denny
Alexandra Elene MacLean Denny (6 January 1947 – 21 April 1978) — known as Sandy Denny — was an English singer and songwriter, perhaps best known as the lead singer for the folk rock band Fairport Convention. She has been described as "the pre-eminent British folk rock singer".

After briefly working with British folk band the Strawbs, Denny joined Fairport Convention in 1968, remaining with that band until the end of 1969. She formed the short-lived band Fotheringay in 1970, releasing one album with them (another unreleased album surfaced over thirty years later), before focusing on a solo career. Between 1971 and 1977, Denny released four solo albums: The North Star Grassman and the Ravens, Sandy, Like an Old Fashioned Waltz, and Rendezvous. She is also noted as the only guest vocalist on a Led Zeppelin studio album, when she shared a duet with Robert Plant for "The Battle of Evermore" on Led Zeppelin's untitled fourth album (1971).

Music publications Uncut and Mojo, as well as the Sunday Express, have all called Denny Britain's finest female singer-songwriter. Her composition "Who Knows Where the Time Goes?" has been recorded by many artists as diverse as Judy Collins, Nina Simone, 10,000 Maniacs and Cat Power. (Read more at Wikipedia)

Links to Peel

John Peel MM 1970 top DJ award with Sandy Denny

Peel and Denny with their respective Melody Maker awards in September 1970.

The front page photo of Melody Maker dated 25 September 1971 shows the Best Male and Female Singers in the paper's annual readers' poll, and both are Peel favourites - Rod Stewart and Sandy Denny. At the tine, Peel rated Sandy Denny very highly; she had recorded sessions for his shows with Fairport Convention and Fotheringay, and he and Top Gear producer John Walters had befriended her. (On a 1970 show [ref] Peel mentioned that she had made him a pair of miniature pyjamas for his birthday.) The DJ continued to support her during her solo career, introducing her in session and in concert, and interviewing her for the Sounds On Sunday show of 06 January 1974. She remained a Peel favourite, even if in the later stages of her career he was critical at times; on the show of 12 May 1977 he remarked that he was slightly less than satisfied with her new LP Rendezvous.

Although Sandy Denny's solo work received plenty of critical acclaim, she never achieved major commercial success, probably because many of her songs were too deeply personal and introverted for a mass public (although these qualities would win her the admiration of later generations of listeners). She made numerous appearances on radio and TV; besides her Peel sessions, her other BBC work included guest spots on 1960s BBC folk music shows before she joined Fairport Convention,.Sounds Of The Seventies sessions for Bob Harris and Alan Black, and an appearance on TV's Old Grey Whistle Test. According to Clinton Heylin's biography of Sandy Denny, No More Sad Refrains (Helter Skelter 2000), on the night of Sandy's death--21 April 1978--Peel opened his show "with three uninterrupted recordings of that clear, crystal voice, at its Fairport and Fotheringay peaks. Afterwards, Peel simply announced the death of his old friend Sandy Denny before beginning the show proper." 

Sandy Denny's reputation continued to grow after her death, with tribute shows and repeats of session material appearing regularly on BBC Radio 2 from the late 1980s on. In his later years Peel played tracks from compilation albums of her work as they appeared. She influenced many performers of later eras - among them Green Gartside of Scritti Politti, who sang at a tribute concert to her in 2012. Peel remembered her fondly; on the show of 28 May 2002, he said that he was heartbroken when Sandy Denny died: “She was a wonderful person. I really liked her very much indeed.”

Festive Fifty Entries


  • None


Two sessions. Session material released on The BBC Sessions 1971-73 CD, 1997 (Strange Fruit SFRSCD006), Live At The BBC 4xCD boxset, 2007 (Island Records ‎602498499283)‎, and The Best Of The BBC Recordings CD, 2008 (Island Records). ‎

1. Recorded: 1972-03-28. First broadcast: 11 April 1972. Session credited to "Sandy Denny and The Bunch". Repeated: ?

  • That’ll Be The Day / Love’s Make A Fool Of You / Learning The Game / Crazy Arms / Jambalaya

2. Recorded: 1973-09-11. First broadcast: 25 September 1973. Repeated: ?

  • Solo / Like An Old Fashioned Waltz / Who Knows Where The Time Goes?

Other Shows Played

  • 27 December 1969: (Christmas special. Chat with Sandy Denny before playing Fairport Convention’s ‘Farewell, Farewell’)
  • 04 September 1971: unknown
  • 06 January 1974: (Sandy Denny is Peel's guest in the studio for a Sounds On Sunday show. Denny is promoting her soon to be released album "Like an Old Fashioned Waltz" and a number of tracks that appear on the LP are played between the chat. These appear to be from a session for Bob Harris that was first broadcast the previous month.)
    - Dark The Night (Bob Harris session)
    - Until The Real Thing Comes Along (Bob Harris session)
    -Whispering Grass (Bob Harris session)
  • 06 June 1974: Solo (LP - Like An Old Fashioned Waltz) Island
  • 12 August 1976 : (JP: “Sandy Denny made many, wrote many, excellent tunes, and recorded them both inside and outside Fairport Convention, but this I think remains her best known.")
    - Fairport Convention: Who Knows Where The Time Goes (album - Unhalfbricking) Island ILPS 9102
  • 12 May 1977: (John is slightly less than satisfied with the new Sandy Denny LP, and avers that the best thing she ever did after leaving Fairport Convention was an EP that he cannot remember the title of [it was called Pass Of Arms].)
    - I Wish I Was A Fool For You (For Shame Of Doing Wrong) (LP-Rendezvous) Island
  • 21 April 1978: (unknown tracks by Fairport Convention and Fotheringay as tribute to Sandy Denny.)
  • 18 February 1986: Autopsy (4xLP - Who Knows Where The Time Goes?) Island
  • 01 February 1992: The Lady (compilation album - Who Know Where The Time Goes) Hannibal
  • 02 February 1992: Listen Listen (compilation album - Who Knows Where the Time Goes) Hannibal
  • 08 February 1992: Next Time Around (compilation album - Who Knows Where the Time Goes) Hannibal
  • 07 May 1997: Sweet Rosemary (CD - The BBC Sessions 1971-73) Strange Fruit
  • 28 May 2002: (Peel describes watching Fairport Convention in Swindon as “one of the very best live gigs I went to in all of my life … an unforgettably great night.” Plays a September 1969 session track by the band from a recently released box set – “I may cry, because I feel in that sort of mood this evening.” Says he was heartbroken when Sandy Denny died: “She was a wonderful person. I really liked her very much indeed.”)

See Also

External Links

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