Bert Jansch, one of the most influential British guitarists of modern times, has died at the age of 67. Jansch passed away in the early hours October 5 after a long battle with cancer.
Jansch, born in Scotland of German parentage, was never a mainstream star. He never had big hit records, even when with pioneering U.K. folk-rock group Pentangle. But Jansch was a “guitarist’s guitarist”. Jimmy Page, Neil Young, Paul Simon, the Smiths’ Johnny Marr and Suede’s Bernard Butler were just a few who revelled in Jansch’s complex fingerstyle playing.
Led Zeppelin’s “Black Mountain Side” is a near-copy of Jansch’s guitar arrangement of traditional tune “Black Waterside”.
Jansch conquered alcohol-related illnesses in the ‘80s and found a new artful life in the 1990s. In 2008 he toured with Neil Young, and kept working into 2011. He recorded 23 solo albums, and his use of DADGAD helped bring the tuning to younger guitarists.
The Smiths’ Johnny Marr said this about Jansch: "He completely re-invented guitar playing and set a standard that is still unequalled today."
Neil Young once famously remarked: "As much of a great guitar player as Jimi [Hendrix] was, Bert Jansch is the same thing for acoustic guitar… And my favourite."
Jimmy Page once said: "At one point, I was absolutely obsessed with Bert Jansch. When I first heard that first LP of his in 1965, I couldn’t believe it. It was so far ahead of what everyone else was doing. No one in America could touch that."