Bert Jansch

Scottish guitarist and songwriter Bert Jansch was a leading figure in the British folk music revival of the 60’s whose work influenced many artists including Johnny Marr.


Sound Opinions – WBEZ podcast – Chicago, Illinois – 19 July 2013
Interview with Jim DeRogatis and Greg Kot

‘Johnny Marr explains how he became aware of Bert Jansch’ – Video by Sound Opinions


Guitar Interactive Magazine (Issue 6)Bert Jansch by Gary Cooper – 14 December 2011
“Jansch’s gift to guitar playing is very real yet hard to pin down.”
Loud and Quiet Magazine – Leftovers by Veronica Falls – 19 November 2011
“Last Month We Traveled to Brooklyn to Interview Veronica Falls. They left behind these Queries for Johnny Marr”

I saw you do a surprise guest appearance with (cult folk singer) Bert Jansch in Manchester once. Do you have a favourite memory of playing with him?
My best ever memory of playing with Bert was in my kitchen one Friday afternoon. It was probably on the day of the Manchester show we did, which was magic – the music just melded together. He was unique and totally definitive. Recording the tracks we did together for the Crimson Moon record was quite a thrill too.

Loud and Quiet Magazine, 19 Novmber 2012

I would like to express my sadness and respect on the death of my friend Bert Jansch who sadly passed away this week. Bert was an incredible musician, totally uncompromising as a person and as an artist. He lived only for the things he cared about and stayed true to his belief that artistry was more important than the mainstream. My love and condolences go to his wife Loren and son Adam. The memory of Bert Jansch will live on through his music and incredible guitar playing. It was an honour to know him and to play with him, especially as he was one of my true heroes.

Johnny Marr – 5 October 2011

Bert Jansch with David DyeNPR World Cafe – 25 January 2011
Guitar/vocals on ‘Katie Cruel’, ‘Black Waterside’ and ‘Blues Run The Game’
Part One

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Johnny Marr with Paul Morley – Conversation About Folk Music – The Guardian – 5 October 2009

He was the only person that I ever really tried to work out stuff as a guitar player, fairly unsuccessfully. And it’s true that, if you actually sit in front of him and watch what he’s doing, it’s harder. It’s better to just try to work it out by ear, because you’d need like a mirror, and you’d have to stand on your head to work out how he’s doing it.

Roland – Johnny Marr by Jamie Franklin – 2009

What is it about Bert Jansch you like?
One of my friends said they had found this amazing folk player. My idea of folk at the time was ‘All Around My Hat’, and he just put on this Pentangle record and it sounded very aggressive and free form; just cool you know? I had no idea where Bert was coming from, and I couldn’t work out how he was doing what he was doing. Since then I’ve got to find out about David Graham and some jazz, but still Bert is his own thing. I played with him quite a few times and I’m still none the wiser, which I’m happy about. Very lyrical, with a brilliant rhythm and just coming from a really cool place. If you want to know what Bohemian sounds like you just have to listen to early Bert Jansch.

Roland, 2009

Bernard ButlerMojo Awards – London, UK – 11 June 2009
Bernard Butler presented the Classic Songwriter Award to Johnny Marr

Johnny Marr and Bert Jansch, Mojo Awards 2009


Dazzling Stranger: Bert Jansch and the British Folk and Blues Revival by Colin Harper and foreword by Johnny Marr – Bloomsbury UK – 1 April 2007


MeltdownUS-UK Folk Connections – Curated by Patti Smith – Royal Festival Hall – London, UK – 24 June 2005
Guitar with Bert Jansch on ‘Pretty Sarah/Pretty Polly’, guitar/vocals with The Healers on ‘Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want’ and ‘My Name Is Carnival’, guitar with Neil Finn on ‘Throw Your Arms Around Me’ and guitar/vocals with Neil Finn and Lenny Kaye on ‘Lay Me Down’


When people unfamiliar with Bert ask me for a quick education, I say, without Bert Jansch The Beatles wouldn’t have written ‘Dear Prudence’. Why? Because Donovan, who famously wrote ‘House Of Jansch’ and ‘Bert’s Blues’, found himself accompanying The Beatles to Rishikesh to see the Maharishi. And showed John Lennon, in particular, the descending clawhammer D technique. It’s known to most guitarists from Neil Young’s ‘Needle And The Damage Done’, which is a lift from Bert’s ‘Needles Of Death’ anyway. That technique is something guitarists now take for granted – tune to low D, play descending lines from the first position from D to C to Bb. We don ‘t think about it, but it’s got to have come from somewhere. And in Britain, it came from Bert. Hence ‘Dear Prudence’. Bert may have appropriated it from Davey Graham, but Bert was the star. Bert was the one everyone wanted to be.

A lot of people who don’t know Bert’s music think he’s all about technique. And while he can be dazzling in that regard, he has a healthy disregard fro the academic side of playing. He’s a million miles away from those boring GIT dudes. He know it’s ultimately about a getting a feeling across.

I first heard him when I was 14 or 15. And his playing really gave me something to aspire to. It was a new yardstick. To use that horrible modern Americanism, he raised the bar. He had something that I thought I could attain feel-wise, because I felt I had the same bluesy right hand, the swing of it. But the left hand was just from Mars. He was the only guy, along with Rory Gallagher, that I’d really sit down and work out. I’d play along with pop records, ‘All The Young Dudes’, ‘Metal Guru’, but Bert I really had to listen to.

The music from my generation was pretty crap and disposable. But Bert’s music, and the music of people he inspired, like Nick Drake and Neil Young, has a timelessness. That first album is a sparse record on the face of it, but once you get into it, it’s got everything you need. It’s got depth. It’s dark. It’s lyrically very interesting, and the singing’s fabulous. It stands up to any bombastic six-piece rock band in my opinion. It’s that powerful. The best of Bert’s music makes a lot of rock music look like pansy-ass posing.

Guitarist Magazine, February 2004


Johnny Marr with Bert JanschSt Luke’s Church – London, UK – 24 October 2003
60th Birthday Celebration (recorded for BBC 4) Guitar on ‘Train Song’, ‘I’ve Got A Feeling’, ‘It Don’t Bother Me’, ‘Fool’s Mate’ and with Bernard Butler on ‘The River Bank’

‘Bert Jansch – 60th Birthday Concert’ – Video from mordokch


Bert Jansch with Johnny MarrThe Lowry Arts Theatre – Manchester, UK – 16 March 2001
Guitar on ‘The Riverbank’, ‘A Woman Like You’, ‘Poison’, ‘Running Away’ and ‘Weeping Willow’
Bert Jansch with Johnny Marr and Bernard ButlerBBC Radio 2 Folk Awards – London, UK – 5 February 2001
Bert Jansch awarded Lifetime Achievement Award
(aired 7 February 2001)


JOHNNY MARR AND THE HEALERSPeople On The Highway – A Bert Jansch Encomium (tribute album) – September 2000
Guitar/vocals on ‘A Woman Like You’ (written by Bert Jansch)
Recorded and mixed by James Spencer at Clear, Manchester
Produced by Johnny Marr

‘A Woman Like You’ – Video by Mozerosar

“I was 14 when I first heard Bert Jansch. A friend of mine told me he’d discovered a ‘folk group’ that were really good and that I should check out the guitar playing. At the time I was listening to a lot of rock music and old pop stuff and, even though I would give myself credit for having an open mind, I thought he was nuts. I don’t know what I was expecting, but when the opening bars of ‘Train Song’ flew by I knew I was hearing something that was to change my life as a guitar player. I was stunned by his technique: melodic riffs, chord progressions that were almost jazzy, and the funkiest blues feel ever played on an acoustic. This wasn’t ‘folk’, this was something all his own – this was innovation. It was one of those moments when you know the stakes are raised, do you just accept your limitations or would I even dare to try to be that good? From then on I tried to find all the Bert Jansch music that I could and when I got a copy of ‘LA Turnaround’ and Pentangle’s ‘Sweet Child’ sometime later they became my favourite albums. It’s because of ‘Sweet Child’ that I’ve done ‘A Woman Like You’ on this album. I think Bert’s description of the song as ‘a cross between a love song & black magic’ made me like it before I even heard it and it’s a great example of his talent as a songwriter, which is too often overlooked. I hope he likes it, and as for that questions years ago – well, you’ve gotta try, haven’t you? …and I’m still trying.”
Liner notes from People On The Highway – A Bert Jansch Encomium, 2000

BERT JANSCHCrimson Moon (album) – August 2000
Backing vocals on ‘Looking For Love’, acoustic guitar with Bernard Butler on ‘Fools Mate’, backing vocals/harmonica with Bernard Butler on ‘The River Bank’ and acoustic/electric guitar on ‘My Donald’

Bert Jansch: DreamweaverDocumentary by Darrin Nightingale – Channel 4 – 28 June 2000
Commentary by Johnny Marr, Roy Harper, Davy Graham, Bernard Butler and Bert Jansch

Johnny Marr with Bert Jansch and Bernard ButlerLater With Jools Holland – 20 May 2000
Martin D-28 acoustic/vocals on ‘The River Bank’ with Bert Jansch on acoustic and Bernard Butler on electric