Owen Hand

Biography by

Owen Hand's career in music was relatively brief -- he was active as a performer for just over four years, and left behind only two complete albums, but through that small output and short career he became…
Read Full Biography

Artist Biography by

Owen Hand's career in music was relatively brief -- he was active as a performer for just over four years, and left behind only two complete albums, but through that small output and short career he became a much-loved figure on the English folk scene. He was born in Scotland at the end of the 1930s, and while he may have had an interest in music as a boy, it had to compete with a lot of responsibilities and necessary distractions. Hand's mother passed away when he was 13 and he was forced to leave school and take a job as a mine worker. Hand didn't learn to play guitar until he was in the army in his late teens, but he soon got good enough to pursue a career. He made his public debut in Edinburgh in 1962, and founded the Three City Four a year later with Leon Rosselson, Ralph Trainer, and Marian McKenzie. He remained with the quartet for a year before choosing to embark on a solo career -- he was succeeded in the group, incidentally, by no less a figure than Martin Carthy. Hand made an initial solo appearance on record with the Decca release Edinburgh Folk Festival, Vol. 1 (Decca LK 4546) recorded in 1963, on which he performed "One Dime Blues." In 1964, he recorded his first album, Something New, for Transatlantic Records, which was a surprisingly ambitious mix of traditional and original material, and was well-received within the folk community. His second album, I Loved a Lass (1966), was even more successful, but he never had a chance to build upon it. His marriage broke up around the time of the album's release, and Hand later left England. He emigrated to Israel for a time, lived on a kibbutz for much of the next year, and then returned to Edinburgh, where he abandoned music permanently in favor of running a retail store. He never returned to performing for the remainder of his life, but his recordings remain among the most beloved parts of the mid-'60s Transatlantic catalog. Additionally, his friend Bert Jansch still performs Hand's "My Donal" as part of his repertory.