Interview with Rick Christian, 6 October 1999
Level: Category
Sound Archive
Level: Fonds
Level: Series
Essex Folk Movement Oral History Project
Level: Sub-Series
Scope and Content:
Rick Christian [RC] interviewed by Sue Cubbin [SC] in Heybridge on 6 October 1999. RC talks about his long career as a singer-songwriter, performing in various bands, co-presenting the BBC Essex Folk Show with Dennis Rookard, running Maldon Folk Club and festival concerts, and his involvement in the Musicians' Union.

Tape 1 Side A

[00:00:00] RC talks about his family; not listening to music at home; singing in his school choir; their wind-up portable record player and radiogram; enjoying Radio Luxembourg and the Beatles.
[00:03:29] Playing recorder at primary school, the only boy; learning to read music; music appreciation class in secondary school, bringing an interest in classical music; being inspired by Bob Dylan; singing at school.
[00:08:44] Scottish country dancing at primary school.
[00:10:11] Discovering folk music through the Seekers, played on the BBC Two-Way Family Favourites radio programme; buying their 'A World of Our Own' LP; hearing Bob Dylan and Tom Paxton; reading sleeve notes to find the music; his mother's opinion on pop music; exposure to different genres through sharing records with friends.
[00:16:33] Getting a job as a Clerical Assistant at the Ministry of Defence in Holborn after leaving school in 1969; borrowing a guitar from his manager around 1970; learning three-chord songs from the 'Folk Singers Guitar Guide'; buying his first guitar, HP forms.
[00:20:50] Attending folk clubs in Harold Wood, Havering, Upminster and Brentwood in 1970-71; guests, residents and singers’ clubs; his first experience performing with Chris Perry at Blackmore Folk Club, at the Bull; busking in Romford.
[00:25:40] Getting glandular fever; taking floor spots between 1971 and 1973; writing songs inspired by his earlier poetry; turning professional as a duo with Art Gardner in 1973; being moved on while busking, in the press; going back to work at the Department of of Health and Social Security (DHSS) in 1975; his experience of working with the homeless in 1976; forming the Rick Christian Band and their repertoire in the early 1970s.

Tape 1 Side B

[00:00:00] Instruments the Rick Christian Band played; their repertoire of folk-rock, country-rock, and later more rock; leaving the band around 1981-82; taking bookings.
[00:04:03] Having a floor sport at The Hermit; the benefits of performing solo; producing a tape with Pathway in April 1983; copyright and the finances of producing the tape; calling in favours for production; selling the tapes, at gigs; producing a second album in 1990; frustrations about the lack of time; not having an agent; his income from performing in 1974.
[00:15:01] Meeting his wife in 1979; their record collections; his wife's rock influence; moving to Maldon in 1984; becoming professional again in 1987; folk clubs closing in the 1980s; performing in pubs and social clubs across Britain, making his own bookings.
[00:21:45] Running Maldon Folk Club between 1985 and 1995; attendance, the acts he booked, why the club folded; holding concerts in Maldon at the Sports and Social Club, the acts he booked, their success, and giving up.
[00:28:42] Maintaining his solo career; second album in vinyl.

Tape 2 Side A

[00:00:00 - 00:10:00] End of the interview; follows Tape 2 Side B:
RC talks about the programme Songwriter's Circle and the 'ghettoization' of folk on television. Reflects on memorable moments of his career; performing at a hospice in Esher; performing for Richard Branson on the first Virgin flight in 1985; playing Phoenix, Arizona. Comments on the hard work and enjoyment of meeting audiences.

[00:10:00] RC talks about maintaining his career; starting a folk show on Radio Basildon; moving to the BBC Essex Folk Show in 1986; his relationship with Dennis Rookard; interviews with musicians; the positive audience response; the end of the show.
[00:15:47] Lack of coverage of folk music in the media; the relationship between the radio shows and club audiences; the lack of exposure for folk; BBC Radio 2 programme, Folk on 2, 'bias' of Jim Lloyd and Mike Harding; the benefit of broadcasting a variety of folk music; Bob Harris.
[00:19:52] His involvement with the Musicians' Union, as chairman of the Folk, Roots and Traditional Music section; promoting folk; a dispute with Eastern Arts Council over funding; getting funding from the Small Festivals Fund; founding the folk section of the Musicians' Union; his efforts to promote folk; the lack of a new audience for folk, effect on folk clubs; singing sessions against music sessions.
[00:24:48] Running Maldon Folk Festival for three years in the mid-1990s; dance groups based in Maldon at the time of interview; folk in Maldon; festival schedule and venues; dispute with Upper Plume School; attendance.

Tape 2 Side B

[00:00:00] Attendance at Maldon Folk Festival.
[00:01:12] Forming a new band, the Open Road, with Lucy Sian [LS] and Peter Dunhill; LS leaving, finding a new singer; working with the Council for Music in Hospitals; changing the band's line-up; recording a cassette and a new solo album; folding the Open Road; performing as a duo with Julia Pascoe; country and folk genres; finding time to write new music; the business and organisation of being a self-managed musician; the process of getting gigs; doing covers.
[00:08:12] Changes in his style and listening interests; the highs and lows and hard work of being a musician; being unable to separate his life from his music career; his wife's role.
[00:22:25] Expanding his profile through the Musicians' Union; performing in Arizona and north west England; contemporary repertoire; repertoires for different audiences.
[00:26:09] His work for the Musicians' Union; the debate about the definition of folk; the wide remit of the Folk, Traditional and Roots Music section.
[00:28:28] Rift between traditional folk clubs and folk-roots style; electric folk argument; lack of young people in clubs, reason for decline, media.
Dates of Creation:
6 October 1999
2 hours 3 minutes 47 seconds
Creator Name:
Sue Cubbin
Admin History:
Rick Christian (b.1951, Romford) performed regularly around the folk scene in Essex as a singer-songwriter and musician. His professional career is split into two parts: between 1973 and 1975; and more recently as a solo artist from 1987 onwards, releasing 'The Open Road' in 1996. He also co-presented the BBC Essex Folk Show with Dennis Rookard between 1986 and 1994 and ran Maldon Folk Club and related festivals and concerts. He also represented folk, traditional and roots musicians in the Musicians' Union.
Archivist Note:
Copyright transferred to ESVA
Physical Characteristics:
4 MP3 files [digital copies of original cassettes]
Related Unit of Description:
For a handwritten transcript of this recording, see SA 30/7/1/17/3
Dates of Description:
May 2022,,,
Not Available:
Digital item(s). For access please email ero.enquiry@essex.gov.uk