Mudcat Café message #3772254 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #159218   Message #3772254
Posted By: Brian Peters
12-Feb-16 - 01:15 PM
Thread Name: Obit: Roy Harris, 9th Feb 2016
Subject: RE: Obit: Roy Harris, 9th Feb 2016
Some nice tributes here, especially Big Al's.

Roy (as I've said on Mudcat before) was possibly the best performer I've ever seen grace a folk club. No instrumental expertise to hide behind, it was just the man, his voice, his personality, and the songs he loved and sang with total commitment. Every song he sang meant a great deal to him. and he was a master of getting the emotional core across, but at the same time never forgot that folk music was supposed to be about having a good time. His warm and easy style impressed all who witnessed his performances, yet it sometimes concealed severe stage fright - which made him all the more impressive a professional.

Roy was extremely generous to less experienced singers with his time, enthusiasm and record collection. Like others here I was turned on to Phil Tanner and Sam Larner through the Harris record library (which also contained a treasury of old-time and blues, despite Roy's reputation as a die-hard English traddy). He was a man of complete integrity, who believed in the ideals of the folk song and folk club movement, standing up for the principle of floor singing at a time when it was under assault. He embarked on a professional career as a working-class man with little or no financial security, and for years hitched to gigs in the far corners of this land because that was the only way he could afford to travel.

To hear Roy talk about some of the old singers he knew in his early years was a delight. Describing hitching up to Aberdeen and staying with Jeannie Robertson, he said: "They had next to nothing, but they'd scrape the paint off their walls for you." So would Roy.

Good of the Telegraph to commission an obit, but "specialized in military songs"? Don't think so. He told me he was never happy with 'The Rambling Soldier', and it certainly isn't his best recording (one vote here for 'Champions of Folly'). And I think most of us on Mudcat know that the 'Burl' handle had nothing to do with his physique, and everything to do with a huge admiration for Burl Ives.

Goodbye old friend. We shall never see your like again.