The Druids

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The Druids were a superb acoustic folk quintet who started a little too late to achieve major popularity, amid the presence of outfits like Steeleye Span and Fairport Convention. Formed as a trio in 1969…
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The Druids were a superb acoustic folk quintet who started a little too late to achieve major popularity, amid the presence of outfits like Steeleye Span and Fairport Convention. Formed as a trio in 1969 by ex-pop musician John Adams (vocals, mandolin, bass), and folk singers Keith Hendrick (vocals, guitar, banjo) and Mick Hennessy (vocals, bass), the group played its first gig at the Manchester Sports Guild in November of that year. A few months later, itinerant fiddler Dave Broughton joined them, and in 1970, while appearing in a documentary film about English folk musicians, they met fifth member Judi Longden, who added her voice to the proceedings.

With their reliance on acoustic instruments, the Druids were far more tradition-based than either Fairport Convention or Steeleye Span. Their repertory consisted of traditional English, Scottish, Welsh, and Irish songs arranged for four voices, and their music had a pleasingly archaic feel, not resembling folk-rock at all. If anything, they sounded more like the kind of outfit that A.L. Lloyd or Ralph Vaughan Williams (editors of the definitive collection of English folk songs) would have approved of, without a trace of uncalled for elegance or pretentiousness.

The group broke up in the early 1970s, and Adams later turned up as a member of the group Muckram Wakes and the New Victory Band. They left behind a small but pleasing recorded legacy, contemporary with the best years of Fairport Convention and Steeleye Span but radically conservative in its approach to the music.