|Birth name||Alexandra Elene MacLean Denny|
|Born||6 January 1947
Wimbledon, London, England
|Died||21 April 1978 (aged 31)
Atkinson Morley Hospital, Wimbledon, England
|Genres||Folk, Electric folk|
|Associated acts||Fairport Convention, Strawbs, Fotheringay, Led Zeppelin|
Sandy Denny (6 January 1947 – 21 April 1978), born Alexandra Elene Maclean Denny, was an English singer and songwriter who has been described by Allmusic's Richie Unterberger as "the pre-eminent British folk rock singer". She emerged in the mid 1960s while still a teenager, performing on the folk revival scene where she displayed her mastery of traditional singing and interpretation. Her song, "Who Knows Where the Time Goes?", written during these early years, has been covered by numerous artists and is regarded as a classic of its type.
Denny's renown grew after her death, and her songs have been covered by many other artists. She is considered a founder of the British folk rock movement and perhaps its most important female singer and personality. It has been suggested that her effortless and smooth vocal delivery still sets the standard for many of today's female folk-based singers.
Over a ten year career Sandy Denny left an extensive legacy and remains influential. She is remembered for the crystal-clear purity but also the strength of her voice as well as her pivotal involvement with the British folk rock movement, where, as a member of Fairport Convention, she moved the band away from west coast American cover versions and into performing traditional material and original compositions. She is also noted for her duet with Robert Plant on Led Zeppelin's fourth album in 1971, on the song "The Battle of Evermore", and to date she remains the only guest vocalist on a Led Zeppelin album.
Denny was born at Nelson Hospital, Kingston Road, Merton Park, London and studied classical piano as a child. Her Scottish grandmother was a singer of traditional songs. At an early age Denny showed an interest in singing, despite the disapproval of her strict parents. Sandy Denny attended Coombe Girls' School in Kingston upon Thames. After leaving school, she started training as a nurse at the Royal Brompton Hospital.
In 1965, after graduating from the Kingston School of Art she enrolled at the Wimbledon College of Art (Night Class) in London, where she became involved in the folk club on campus. Contemporaries included John Renbourn, Jimmy Page, and Eric Clapton. After her first public appearance at the Barge in Kingston-Upon-Thames Sandy started working the folk club circuit in the evenings with an American-influenced repertoire, including songs by Tom Paxton, together with folk songs. She travelled in to Earls Court to play at The Troubadour folk club, where a member of Strawbs heard her. In 1967, she was invited to join the band, and recorded one album with them in Denmark. The album includes an early version of her best-known (and widely covered) song, Who Knows Where the Time Goes. Judy Collins recorded the song, helping to bring attention to Sandy Denny.
Denny's earliest professional recordings were made in mid-1967 for the Saga Records label, featuring traditional songs and covers of folk contemporaries including a boyfriend of this period, Jackson C. Frank. They were released on the albums Alex Campbell and his Friends and Sandy and Johnny. These recordings were collected on the 1970 album It's Sandy Denny.
Following the departure of Judy Dyble after their debut album, Fairport Convention conducted auditions in 1968 for a replacement singer, and Denny became the obvious choice. Simon Nicol has said "it was a one horse race really ... she stood out like a clean glass in a sink full of dirty dishes". Initially recording three albums with them including the influential Liege & Lief, Denny is credited with encouraging Fairport Convention to explore the traditional British folk repertoire, and is thus regarded as a key figure in the development of British folk rock.
Denny left Fairport Convention in 1969, after recording and, very briefly, touring Liege & Lief. The other members of Fairport were interested in exploring folk rock, but Denny wanted to develop her own songwriting. She formed her own band, Fotheringay, which included her boyfriend, Australian born Trevor Lucas, but dissolved the group after one album to record solo albums, with several members of Fairport Convention as guests. The North Star Grassman and the Ravens and Sandy remain her most popular solo albums and Melody Maker twice voted her the "Best Female Singer" in 1971 and 1972. In 1973, she married Lucas and returned to Fairport Convention in 1975 for a world tour and another album, Rising for the Moon, which featured several of her own compositions. 
During her solo period, Denny appeared in a brief cameo on Lou Reizner's version of The Who's rock opera, Tommy, and duetted memorably with Robert Plant on "The Battle of Evermore" from Led Zeppelin's 1971 album (Led Zeppelin IV), becoming the only guest vocalist ever to appear on a Led Zeppelin album.
Together with contemporaries including Richard Thompson and Ashley Hutchings, she participated in a one-off project called The Bunch to record a collection of rock and roll era standards released under the title of "Rock On".
She gained a devoted cult following, but remained deprecating of her talent and unsure of her true direction. Some of her best-loved recordings are interpretations of British traditional songs. Denny herself was unsure as to whether she wanted to continue in that vein (in the manner of Steeleye Span and Maddy Prior) or that of a singer-songwriter like Joni Mitchell. She yearned for success in the mass market, but her shy, unpredictable nature and insecurity about her appearance were impediments. Her solo albums feature efforts in all three directions, gaining her a reputation for charming eclecticism rather than the stardom she and Lucas craved.
Her charisma and extraordinary alto voice were never in doubt. The stress of the Fairport Convention world tour in 1974 made it apparent that Denny's heavy drinking and smoking were damaging her voice, inclining her to put elaborate string arrangements on her last two solo albums, Like an Old Fashioned Waltz and Rendezvous, which were not well received by the critics. Denny began to question her career goals and turned her attention to raising a family. Her substance abuse became critical and her behaviour began to worry and even alienate most of her fellow musicians, including Lucas and her erstwhile Fairport Convention colleagues.
In March 1978, while on holiday with her parents in Cornwall, Denny was injured when she fell down a staircase. A month after the fall she collapsed at a friend's home; four days later she died in Atkinson Morley Hospital. Her death was ruled to be the result of a traumatic mid-brain hemorrhage. It has been suggested that Denny's problems arose from substance abuse and uncertainty about her career path, but Jill Broun, a close friend, attributes the haemorrhage to a brain tumour. This would also explain the headaches and collapses which she suffered for some time prior to her death, the fall down stairs at her parents' home and her final fatal collapse. She is buried at Putney Vale Cemetery.
At the time of her death she was living apart from Trevor Lucas and her daughter Georgia, who had travelled to Lucas's native Australia. Lucas died in 1989 of heart failure.
|1967||Alex Campbell and his Friends||Alex Campbell||Studio|
|1967||Sandy and Johnny||Sandy and Johnny||Studio|
|1968||All Our Own Work||Sandy Denny and the Strawbs||Studio|
|1968 - 69||Heyday||Fairport Convention||Studio|
|1969 (January)||What We Did on Our Holidays||Fairport Convention||Studio|
|1969 (June)||Unhalfbricking||Fairport Convention||Studio|
|1969 (December)||Liege & Lief||Fairport Convention||Studio|
|1970||It's Sandy Denny||||Compilation|
|1971 (September)||The North Star Grassman and the Ravens||Solo||Studio|
|1972||Rock On||The Bunch||Studio|
|1973 (June)||Like an Old Fashioned Waltz||Solo||Studio|
|1974||Fairport Live Convention||Fairport Convention||Live|
|1975||Rising for the Moon||Fairport Convention||Studio|
|1985||Who Knows Where the Time Goes? (boxed set)||Mixed||Compilation|
|1991||Sandy Denny and the Strawbs||Sandy Denny and the Strawbs||Reissue|
|1997||The BBC Sessions 1971-1973||Solo||Studio|
|2000||No More Sad Refrains: The Anthology (2 CD set)||Mixed||Compilation|
|2004||A Boxful of Treasures (5 CD set)||Mixed||Compilation|
|2007||Live at the BBC (boxed set)||Solo||Studio|
|1968||"Meet On The Ledge"/"Throwaway Street Puzzle"||Fairport Convention||Island Records WIP 6047|
|1969||"Si Tu Dois Partir"/"Genesis Hall"||Fairport Convention||Island Records WIP 6064|
|1970||"Peace In The End"/"Winter Winds"||Fotheringay||Island Records WIP 6085|
|1972||"When Will I Be Loved?"/"Willie & the Hand Jive"||The Bunch||Island Records WIP 6130|
|1972||"Listen, Listen"/"Tomorrow Is a Long Time"||Solo||Island Records WIP 6142|
|1974||"Whispering Grass"/"Until the Real Thing Comes Along"||Solo||Island Records WIP 6176|
|1974||"Like an Old Fashioned Waltz"/"Friends"||Solo||Island Records WIP 6195|
|1977||"Candle in the Wind"/"Still Waters Run Deep"||Solo||Island Records WIP 6391|