Influential Guitarist John Renbourn, Co-Founder Of Pentagle, Dies Renbourn co-founded the popular folk/jazz group Pentangle and was one of the most respected and influential acoustic guitarists in the world. He died this week at his home in Scotland; he was 70.
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Influential Guitarist John Renbourn, Co-Founder Of Pentagle, Dies

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Influential Guitarist John Renbourn, Co-Founder Of Pentagle, Dies

Influential Guitarist John Renbourn, Co-Founder Of Pentagle, Dies

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/395966276/395966279" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. One of the most respected musicians of the British folk rock boom of the 1960s has died. John Renbourn, the guitarist and composer, co-founded the group Pentangle. He was found dead of an apparent heart attack at his home in Scotland this week at the age of 70. NPR's Tom Cole has this appreciation.

TOM COLE, BYLINE: John Renbourn was born in London at the end of World War II. He used to joke that the only place to hide during air raids was under his mom's piano. He joked a lot, as he did with the BBC earlier this month about his music education.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JOHN RENBOURN: I went to a school that specialized in boxing and cross-country running. And one day a new teacher came to the school. The headmaster said this teacher can teach music, but should anyone want to take music they will have to forgo cross-country running and boxing. So my hand shot up and I became a music student.

COLE: That teacher introduced him to medieval and Renaissance music, which he went on to arrange for acoustic guitar.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BRANSLE GAY")

COLE: By the mid-'60s, Renbourn was enthralled with American blues and R&B. He hooked up with fellow guitarist Bert Jansch and together they created their own sound out of these influences.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "TIC-TOCATIVE")

COLE: The album "Bert And John" became hugely influential to a younger generation of guitarists. And out of the collaboration grew the group Pentangle.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "PENTANGLING")

PENTANGLE: (Singing) Moonflowers bright with people walking.

COLE: Pentangle played Carnegie Hall, the Newport Folk Festival and the Fillmores East and West, but broke up in 1972. Renbourn embarked on a solo career.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THE PELICAN")

COLE: John Renbourn went back to school and earned a degree in composition and orchestration, but he never took himself too seriously, right up to the end, when he recalled the beginning of his career.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

RENBOURN: It was just in the early '60s that I was faced with a terrible dilemma of having to get a job and found myself preferring to travel and play.

COLE: A lot of people are grateful he did. Tom Cole, NPR News.

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