Michael Chapman, English Folk Singer-Songwriter, Dies at 80

Michael Chapman, English Folk Singer-Songwriter, Dies at 80

The Leeds-born artist released over 40 albums across his 50-year-career

Michael Chapman

Michael Chapman, 1973 (Dick Barnatt/Redferns/Getty Images)

English folk singer-songwriter Michael Chapman has died at the age of 80, Brendan Greaves, the co-founder of Chapman’s label Paradise of Bachelors, tells Pitchfork. The news was first revealed on Chapman’s Instagram. A cause of death was not announced, but it was stated that Chapman died at his home. Find a note from Greaves and Paradise of Bachelors below.

Michael Chapman was born in Leeds, England, in 1941. Although he started off teaching art and photography, his guitar playing quickly developed from a passion into a profession. Without access to educational materials about how to play the guitar, Chapman often listened to albums by other artists to teach himself the instrument. “You have to learn the language before you can start to say what you want to say,” he told The Bluegrass Situation in 2017. He studied the records of jazz guitarists like Django Reinhardt and Wes Montgomery and began performing in a similar vein on the Cornish folk circuit.

Chapman’s debut album Rainmaker arrived in 1969 and was the first of four albums released in quick succession: 1970’s Fully Qualified Survivor and Window, as well as 1971’s Wrecked Again. When Chapman signed to Decca and released his fifth studio album, 1973’s Millstone Grit, he switched gears and played electric guitar, but even that sound didn’t define his forward momentum. He continued exploring roots music, especially blues and folk, through acoustic and electric—and instrumental and sung—projects that showed off his dexterity.

Chapman released over 40 albums across his career, including two recent albums that he released via Paradise of Bachelors: 2016’s Steve Gunn collaboration 50 and 2019’s True North.

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