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I’ve Always Kept A Unicorn: The Biography of Sandy Denny by Mick Houghton

October 30, 2014 | by Faber Social

Tags: Biography, Folk, mick houghton, sandy denny

Faber Social are proud to announce the definitive biography of Sandy Denny, one of the most influential folk rock artists of all time, by Mick Houghton, published on March 5 2015.

I’ve Always Kept a Unicorn tells the story of Sandy Denny, one of the greatest British singers of her time and the first female British singer-songwriter to produce a substantial and enduring body of original songs. Sandy Denny laid down the marker for folk-rock when she joined Fairport Convention in 1968, releasing three albums with them in 1969 before her shock departure just ahead of the release of the celebrated Liege & Lief. Her music went far beyond this during the seventies, driven by a restless search for the perfect framework for her songs, first with Fotheringay the group she formed but controversially left after recording just one album. On leaving, she immediately collaborated on a historic one-off recording with Led Zeppelin on ‘The Battle of Evermore’ – the only guest vocalist ever to record with the group. Four fascinating, mercurial solo albums followed as well as an ultimately misguided return to Fairport Convention before her tragic and untimely death, aged 31, in 1978, in circumstances still shrouded in hearsay and speculation.

Sandy emerged from the folk scene of the sixties – a world of larger-than-life characters such as Alex Campbell, Jackson C. Frank, Anne Briggs and Australian singer Trevor Lucas, whom she married in 1973. Their often turbulent relationship is at the core of Sandy’s later life and work, as she tried to reconcile a longing for the simple life and motherhood with the trappings of a rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle and a fear of the fame and success which others expected of her.

This is her story told with the help of more than sixty of her friends, fellow musicians and contemporaries all of whom spoke with great candour, some with too much candour, and all with a mixture of joy and sadness when talking about Sandy.

Mick Houghton began writing about music during the seventies before stumbling into a job as a PR at Warner Bros. in 1979. Within a year he had set up the independent Brassneck Publicity, where he’s looked after an extraordinary array of people ever since. Over the years he’s been closely associated with Echo & the Bunnymen, Julian Cope, The Undertones, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Sonic Youth, The KLF, Spiritualized, Bert Jansch and Richard Thompson. He began writing again in 2001, first for Mojo and later for Uncut. As one of the Grammy-nominated compilers/producers of the boxed set Forever Changing: The Golden Age of Elektra, 1963-1973, he went on to write Becoming Elektra: The True Story of Jac Holzman’s Visionary Record Label, published in 2010.