Obituary: Martin Winsor

Martin Winsor, folk-singer, born London 6 December 1931, married 1983 Jeannie Steel (one son), died Boston Lincolnshire 4 August 1992.

IN THE late Fifties, skiffle performers like Lonnie Donnegan, Wally Whyton and John Hasted, helped to spawn skiffle's successor: the folk-club network which covered Britain from the early Sixties. Martin Winsor was a prime mover, a front-liner at John Hasted's 44 Club (44 Gerrard Street, Soho, London) and he went on, in 1963, to run the Troubadour Folk Club in Earl's Court with the late Redd Sullivan.

For British and foreign performers, the Troubadour on a Saturday was an obligatory stop. This ate into Winsor's and Sullivan's singing time. But on some less busy Tuesday nights, Winsor would do a diverse set - London songs, a sea shanty, one of his own settings of Kipling's 'Soldiers' Songs', a faultlessly sung Scottish traditional ballad - all delivered in a rich, sonorous, baritone voice that was the envy of many a comparable singer. Winsor also used his gift of mimicry and well-captured regional accents. His impressions of a jazz trumpet were unbelievable. And as a patter man and raconteur, he had few equals.

The dominant powers in the English Folk Dance and Song Society viewed the club movement as a bit common and Winsor as brash and too outspoken. It was therefore all the more extraordinary that he became a member of one of the society's councils, the British Federation of Folk Clubs. For many years he worked tirelessly for the federation. Also for the society, he directed the Loughborough folk festival for several years in the Seventies. He pursued an adventurous policy of choosing performers from different backgrounds and styles that gave the festival a sparkle and energy which reflected his own.

Winsor's life was greatly enhanced by his singing partnership with Jeannie Steel, whom he met in 1962 and later married. Virtually unknown in their own country, the couple toured western Europe many times, where they were an enormous success.

The record industry treated him poorly. There is little of that handsome voice on disc or tape - a couple of early LPs with Redd Sullivan and others, a tape with Jeannie Steel, a track here and there. Jeannie and Martin ran 'Nightride' for London's Capital Radio; while the Spinners thought well enough of him to let him host their thriving Liverpool club when they were on tour.

Martin Winsor was a great talker. Ideas and opinions, most of them sensible, poured out of him. He loved an argument and a stimulating discussion, and he would not readily accept those with pomp to puncture or pretentiousness to prick. Everything he said was straight from the shoulder. A lot of it found its way into the columns I was writing for Melody Maker and New Musical Express (with the highly colourful language edited out).

Fund-raising, conversation, organising festivals - none of these detracted in any way from Martin Winsor's ability as an entertainer. He was that par excellence. Less noticed, perhaps, than many less talented people, but a prince of good fellows, and a giant of the folk scene.

(Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Ashdown Group: Human Resources Manager

£28000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: A successful organisation...

Recruitment Genius: Internal Recruiter - Manufacturing

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Internal Recruiter (manufact...

Ashdown Group: HR Manager (CIPD) - Barking / East Ham - £50-55K

£50000 - £55000 per annum + 25 days holidays & benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Man...

Recruitment Genius: Operations / Project Manager

£40000 - £48000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This software company specialis...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones