John Renbourn, Guitarist and a Founder of Pentangle

John Renbourn (August 8, 1944-March 26, 2015) was an English guitarist who is impossible to categorize. You could dump him in the folk bin, but that would be a disservice. Throughout his career, he went down many musical paths–classical, medieval, jazz, world, blues–often crossing paths along the way.

He was known for his collaborations, including with American blues and gospel singer Dorris Henderson, Bert Jansch, Stefan Grossman and, of course, with Pentangle, the folk-jazz group he co-founded with Jansch, Jacqui McShee, Danny Thompson and Terry Cox.

He also had a prolific solo career, and I’m pleased to include a fairly recent video of an intimate performance he gave at the Letterkenny Arts Centre in Donegal, Ireland.

Before Pentangle, there was Bert and John. Here’s a wonderful Danish documentary from 1967, documenting the British folk scene.

With American guitarist Stefan Grossman, in a little more bluesy direction, “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat”:

And more blues styling on one of his first recordings, “There You Go,” with Dorris Henderson (1965):


Obituary in The Guardian

Obituary in The New York Times

Obituary in Pitchfork

Obituary in Premier Guitar

Martin Introduces OMM John Renbourn Custom Artist Edition Guitar (Premier Guitar, June 18, 2011)