He began by singing in Edinburgh folk clubs and became a professional musician in 1970. He made one solo album, No More Forever (released in 1972), before joining Boys of the Lough, singing and playing guitar on their eponymous debut album (released in 1972). After leaving, he was a guest of the High Level Ranters when they recorded The Bonnie Pit Laddie in 1975, performing on two tracks. From 1976 to 1978 there then followed a hectic period of his life pursuing two careers, one as a member of Five Hand Reel and one as a soloist.
It was a time of hard drinking, travelling continental Europe in vans, and seeing very little of his wife and daughter. The crisis came when his daughter was knocked down by a car while he was away. The daughter survived, but Gaughan had to take stock of his life and re-prioritise things. He taught himself to read and write music, and in the late 1970s he began to write reviews for what was at the time the only national folk music paper, Folk Review. He also saw more of his family.
He joined the agitprop theatre group called 7:84, which was extremely popular at the time for its highly aggressive attacks on Margaret Thatcher and the New Right in general. In this, he appeared to be following in the footsteps of another socialist theatre-director-singer Ewan MacColl, even recording a tribute album to him in 1978. In the early 1980s he campaigned vigorously for an organisation called Perform, which aimed to unite professional and amateur folk performers into a body to negotiate fees, distribution rights, and to retain artistic control. He was the chair for two years. Gaughan's solo albums of the 1980s returned to the acoustic style in which he had begun, containing both traditional ballads ("The Muckle Sangs") as well as his own songs, and using acoustic guitar (although he can play electric guitar and in fact most fretted instruments).
His decision to concentrate on songs which convey a political message, rather than those which might be more easily attractive to the mainstream, is clearly shown in the important albums Handful of Earth (1981) and A Different Kind of Love Song (1983). Handful of Earth was Melody Maker's album of the year (1981) and was also voted album of the decade by Folk Roots magazine in a readers' poll. Dick Gaughan has many and various influences. In his guitar playing one can detect the influence of Big Bill Broonzy and Bert Jansch, but he also claims to have been influenced by musicians as diverse as Hank Williams and Neil Young. His powerful songs have been recorded by Billy Bragg, Mary Black, Jessica Haines & Mark Kaiser and Capercaillie amongst many others.
He has also recorded extensively as a session musician. In the early 1990s, Dick Gaughan joined Davy Steele of the Battlefield Band, virtuoso piper Fred Morrison and other musicians to form Clan Alba. They released one self-titled album in 1995. In 2002 he released Prentice Piece, a self-selected thirty-year retrospective of his career (although some material could not be included due to copyright disputes). His CD, Lucky for Some, was released in April 2006. In 1983 Dick Gaughan was the subject of a BBC Spectrum documentary entitled Gaughan, and in 2005 a further documentary entitled A Different Kind of Love Song formed part of the BBC Four Sessions series. Gaughan's deep interest in the composition and orchestration of classical music has led to two orchestral commissions from the prestigious Celtic Connections festival: Timewaves (Lovesong to a People's Music) in 2004, and Treaty 300 (expressing disapproval of the Treaty of Union of 1707) in 2007. Discography * No More Forever (1972) * The Boys of the Lough (1973) (Boys of the Lough) * Kist O'Gold (1976) * Five Hand Reel (1976) (Five Hand Reel) * Coppers and Brass (1977) * For A' That (1977) (Five Hand Reel) * Songs of Ewan MacColl (1978) (with Dave Burland and Tony Capstick) * Gaughan (1978) * Earl o' Moray (1978) (Five Hand Reel] * Handful of Earth (1981) * A Different Kind of Love Song (1983) * Parallel Lines (1982) (with Andy Irvine) * Fanfare for Tomorrow (1985) (with Ken Hyder) * Live in Edinburgh (1985) * True and Bold (1986) * Call It Freedom (1988) * Clan Alba (1995) (with Clan Alba * Sail On (1996) * Redwood Cathedral (1998) * Outlaws And Dreamers (2001) * Prentice Piece (2002) * Lucky for Some (2006) *Gaughan Live! at the Trades Club (2008) This discography excludes recordings to which Dick Gaughan contributed only a few tracks. Read more on Last.fm.
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