Thursday, 23 June 2011

Mike Waterson

The Watersons - Mike is
wearing his trade mark cap.
Mike Waterson, member of the Watersons folk group, died yesterday aged 70 after a long illness.  The Watersons were a family folk group who were highly influential from the 1960s onwards, making great use of vocal harmonies rather than musical accompaniment.  Their influence on folk harmony singing has been and remains immense to this day, and I have known local vocal groups who have been happy to admit their debt to the Waterson's style.  I saw the Watersons only once, in Southport in the early 1980s, and it was something of an eye opener to me at the time, both in terms of the material and the way it was sung. 

As well as singing traditional songs, Mike was also a talented songwriter who wrote on a wide range of subjects that caught the imagination of other singers; I heard his song A Stitch In Time (about a woman who sews her drunken, violent husband into his bed so he can't move) sung at the Guest House singaround just a fortnight ago.  Another of his songs, Bright Phoebus, the title track of an album recorded with his late sister Lal Waterson, who was also a song writer, is regularly sung at folk clubs and festivals.

Mike was brother to Norma Waterson, who herself had a life-threatening illness recently, brother in law to Martin Carthy, and uncle to Eliza Carthy, one of the most prominent young folk performers today.  Here is Mike's obituary in The Guardian.


  1. This is such sad news. My thoughts are with the family. Poor Norma, this is a heavy blow to her especially.

  2. I agree: losing her brother while still recovering from a serious illness herself must be very hard.


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