- Southsea Folk And Roots Festival - Wednesday 28th August - The Gaiety Suite South Parade Pier
Singer and songwriter Ralph McTell is a man who may well be the nearest this
has come to Bob Dylan. He remains best known for a single composition,
London'. Yet McTell has done much more than rely on one song, however
for his 30 years as a recording artist. As well as his ongoing musical
career, other roles
have included children's TV host of "Alphabet Zoo", Radio 2 presenter, and
of music for Billy Connolly's TV travelogues.
Ralph May was born in Famborough, Kent, in 1944, and took up the guitar in
In early '60s he took off and he busked all over Europe, and in 1966 changed
after the legendary blues gutiarist Blind Willie McTell. Ralph has recorded
albums to his early influences and is a renowned finger-style guitarist.
In 1969 his first album, 'Spiral Staircase', included the first version of
London', which, when re-recorded in 1974 as a single reached number two in
British charts. A million-seller all over the world, the song soon became a
earns for McTell a prestigious Ivor Novello songwriting award. It has
accolades since then, is now the most purchased sheet music title of all
time, and has
been covered by acts as diverse as calypso king Harry Belafonte, jazz diva
agit-punks the Anti Nowhere League, and Sinead O'Connor. Needless to say,
the efforts of The Big Issue and others, the song's message on society's
attitude to the
homeless is as relevant as ever in the new millenium.
In 1970 Ralph appeared alongside Jimi Hendrix at The Isle Of Wight
that year he sold out the the Royal Festival Hall for first time, and three
became the first solo artist to sell-out the Royal Albert Hall for 14 years.
Through his three decades in music, McTell still has forthright views on
life, and has
survived showbiz with his credibility and compassion intact. Despite the
the 'Troubles', he is the only major British artist to continue to play
Ralph was recently honoured at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Music Awards 2002 with a
Lifetime Achievement Award for Songwriting.