details about the life of folk singer Strath Clague

Strath Clague

Fri 25 Nov 2005.. "THE Scottish folk scene was in mourning today after renowned Edinburgh singer-songwriter Strath Clague lost a long battle with cancer". Strath died at Edinburghs St Columba Hospice.

Strath Clague was born in Musselburgh in 1931. He served an apprenticeship at the towns Brunton's wireworks as an engineer. He then joined the merchant navy before returning to Musselburgh to work in Cockenzie power station until his retirement in 1992.

Straths son Michael, said of his father that he had a "unique sense of humour and songwriting talent". It was typical of Straths sense of humour that he would introduce Michael to people saying, 'this is my son, some say he looks like his father but I say he looks like me'. Years later he wrote a song called just that. Michael says "He wasn't the greatest musician, only taking up the guitar in his 50s but songwriting was his passion. He was a master at clever wordplay and innuendo."

Although Strath never received the public exposure many people believe he deserved, his songs are regularly played at folk sessions all over the country. One of Mr Clague's many friends on the folk scene, singer Nancy Nicolson, of Newington, said: "We were blessed with his witty, wise and wonderful songs, from the sublime to the ridiculous via a sly decadence. "He was hugely insightful, there was a touch of genius about Strath."

Strath wrote many songs popular in folk circles including "Samantha's Style", "Always Tomorrow", and "The Company Bore". He also released a collection of his songs on an album entitled, "Strath Clague: A Person Not a Place". Some of his songs can be found and listened to on the "Music" page of this site.

One of Straths best known songs "The Morning After" was included in the collection of Scottish poems and songs about whisky, The Whisky Muse, by Robin Laing.

Edinburgh University lecturer Paddy Bort, who is chairman of the Edinburgh Folk Club and was a good friend of Straths. He said: "His songs were full of biting satire. He was a wee genius with words, highlighted when he won a songwriting competition in 1989 at the Newcastleton Folk Festival."

Mr Clague was also a significant figure at the Haddington Folk Club when it was founded in 1982 by Gordon and Ros Pearson. Mrs Pearson said of Strath: "He was a walking one-man party, a lovely man. He'd bring his tiny caravan to various folk festivals such as Newcastleton and Auchtermuchty, and never turned anyone away from the door. He was a great host and an even better raconteur. He will be sorely missed."

One of Strath's oldest friends was fellow Edinburgh folk singer, Maggie Cruickshank, of Merchiston. She met him more than 25 years ago after when they were introduced at a folk evening in the Royal Oak pub. She said: "He always had a sparkle in his eye. He was an amazing little man with a wonderful ability for storytelling and songwriting." Mrs Cruickshank who sang at Strath's funeral, said he even maintained his unique sense of humour when he was taken terminally ill last year, telling a mutual friend, "if you want to borrow any money you would be wise to do it now".


The above was adapted from the Obituary written about Strath by David O'Leary in November 2005. It pretty much sums up Strath. We hope you enjoy the site which features some of the songs and words of Strath Clague.


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