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John (Jack) Eaglesham - 1938 - 2014

John Eaglesham, singer, songwriter, raconteur and concertina player, passed away after a long illness on 5 April 2014. He was a fine and respectful singer of the older Scots songs as well as comic music hall material and traditional tunes, and respected singers have said that they never heard a better or more authentic performer of bothy ballads.

With like minded musicians, he helped form the influential and consciously Scots group, The Clutha (Gaelic for Clyde) in 1964, with a truly honest and unique approach to the musical heritage of Scotland. Some of their recordings are still available on Topic Records and have certainly stood the test of time. The Clutha, with their fiddle/concertina based music, travelled the folk clubs widely in the sixties and I still remember being knocked out by one performance at the Marsden club in South Shields, later broadcast on Jim Lloyd's Radio 2 folk programme in 1966.

John was also a prolific songwriter and his comic efforts such as Inveroran, The Wife O' The Garngad and Ye Never Need Yer Nookie When Ye're Ninety, have livened many a singing session at Scottish festivals. Despite his satirical slant on the West Highland Way, another Eaglesham classic, he enjoyed the outdoor life and travelled widely in Scotland, including regular trips to sessions all over the country - I well recall his visits to the House O' Hill in Glentrool, Galloway, where he is still fondly remembered by the locals as well as the folkies.

John was a Glasgow man, although his ancestors were from the Ballantrae/Colmonell area of South Ayrshire. He was also a very able serious writer, with a gift for good tunes, in particular his settings of Violet Jacob's poems which were sympathetic and original.

In the eighties, John joined another influential Glasgow based group, Stramash, with Adam McNaughtan, Anne Neilson, Bob Blair, Kevin and Ellen Mitchell and Finlay Allison, giving another platform for his singing and concertina playing in that original and entertaining setup - again, recordings are readily available. John loved the music and was to be seen and heard at all the Scottish festivals over the years until his health deteriorated a few years ago.

John was always delighted when anyone sang his songs, although it was only last year when his first solo CD, Song Of Passion, was issued. His last years were passed in a Glasgow nursing home and his absence will be a huge loss to Scottish traditional music. As his longtime partner, 'Biff' Carmichael, rightly said: “It's like the end of an auld sang.” Although, maybe it's not really the end, Biff - John Eaglesham will live on in his songs. It was a privilege to know the man and his music.

Jim Bainbridge