A. L. Lloyd

A. L. Lloyd

Infobox Person
name = A. L. Lloyd

image_size =
caption =
birth_date = birth date|1908|2|29|df=y
birth_place = London, England
death_date = death date and age|1982|9|29|1908|2|29|df=y
death_place =
occupation = folk singer
spouse =
parents =
children =

Albert Lancaster Lloyd (29 February, 1908- 29 September, 1982), usually known as A. L. Lloyd or Bert Lloyd, was an English folk singer and collector of folk songs, and as such was a key figure in the folk music revival of the 1950s and 1960s.

Early life

Lloyd was born in Wandsworth in London, his father was an AA Patrolman and failed smallholder. His mother sang songs around the house and according to Lloyd mimicked the Gipsy singers that she'd heard. By the age of fifteen his mother had died and his father, an ex-soldier, was a semi-invalid, and Lloyd was sent as an assisted migrant to Australia in a scheme organised by the British Legion. [Particularly in the period after World War I, Australia had a policy of recruiting child migrants from the United Kingdom, financially assisted by the British Government’s Empire Settlement legislation. See, for example, the [http://www.dh.gov.uk/en/Publicationsandstatistics/Publications/PublicationsPolicyAndGuidance/DH_4006199 Department of Health website] ] There, he worked on various sheep stations in New South Wales and it was during this time that he began to write down folksongs he learned. [Britta Sweers, "Electric Folk: The Changing Face of English Traditional Music", Oxford University Press, 2005, ISBN 0195158784]

Career as folklorist

When he returned to the UK in the 1930s, in the absence of a permanent job, he pursued his interests in studying folk music and social and economic history, doing much of his research at the British Museum: he is quoted as saying that there is "nothing like unemployment for educating oneself". [Sleeve notes to LP "First Person" (Topic 12T118).] In 1937 he signed on board the factory whaling ship the Southern Empress bound for the southern whaling grounds of the Antarctic. [Michael Brocken, "The British Folk Revival 1944-2002", Ashgate Publishing, Ltd, 2003. ISBN 0754632822 p.26]

During this decade, he joined the Communist Party of Great Britain [Brocken p.25] and was strongly influenced by the writings of the Marxist historian, A. L. Morton, particularly his 1938 book "A People's History Of England". [Brocken p.26] In 1937, Lloyd's article "The People's own Poetry" was published in the "Daily Worker" (now known as the "The Morning Star") newspaper. [Brocken p.25]

In 1938 the BBC hired him to write a radio documentary about seafaring life, and from then on he worked as a journalist and singer. A proponent of communism, Lloyd was staunchly opposed to Adolf Hitler, and, in 1939, he was commissioned by the BBC to produce a series of programmes on the rise of Nazism. Between 1945 and 1950 he was employed as a journalist by "Picture Post" magazine but he left the job in an act of solidarity with one of his colleagues. [Brocken p.26]

By the 1950s he had established himself as a professional folklorist—as Colin Harper puts it "in a field of one". [cite book| last =Harper | first =Colin | title =Dazzling Stranger: Bert Jansch and the British Folk and Blues Revival (2006 edition) | publisher =Bloomsbury | date =2006 | isbn =0-7475-8725-6|pages=p.26] Harper goes on to note that, at a time when the English folk revival was dominated by young people who wore jeans and pullovers, Lloyd was rarely seen in anything other than a suit (and a wide grin). Ewan MacColl is quoted as describing Lloyd (with affection) as "a walking toby jug". [Harper p.26]

In the early 1960s, Lloyd became associated with an enterprise known as "Centre 42" which arose from Resolution 42 of the 1960 Trades Union Congress, concerning the importance of arts in the community. Centre 42 was a touring festival aimed at devolving art and culture from London to the other main working class towns of Britain. It was led by Arnold Wesker, with MacColl and Lloyd providing the musical content. Centre 42 was important in bringing a range of folk performers to the public attention: Anne Briggs, the Ian Campbell Folk Group, The Spinners and The Watersons. [Harper p.103]

Lloyd recorded many albums of English folk music, most notably several albums of the Child Ballads with Ewan MacColl. He also published many books on folk music and related topics, including "The Singing Englishman", "Come All Ye Bold Miners", and "Folk Song in England". He was a founder-member of Topic Records and remained as their artistic director until his death. He died at his home in Greenwich in 1982. [Lucy Duran, "A. L. Lloyd. A Tribute", published in "Yearbook for Traditional Music", Vol. 14, 1982 (1982), pp. xiii-xv]

While Lloyd is most widely known for his work with British folk music, he had a keen interest in the music of Spain, Latin America, Southeastern Europe and Australia (He recorded at least 6 discs of Australian Bush Ballads and folk music).


*"English Drinking Songs", Riverside Records (USA) LP, 1961. CD Reissue: Topic records
*"England and Her Folk Songs (A Selection From The Penguin Book)", with Alf Edwards, Collector Records (UK) 7" EP
*"First Person (Some Of His Favourite Folk Songs)", Topic Records (UK) LP, 1966
*"The Best Of A.L. Lloyd", Xtra (UK) LP, 1966.
*"Leviathan", Topic Records (UK) LP, 1967. CD Reissue: Topic records

With Ewan MacColl

*"The English and Scottish Popular Ballads" 9 Volumes, Washington albums, 1952
*"Thar She Blows! (Whaling Ballads and Songs)", Riverside RLP 12-635 (USA) LP, 1957
*"Whaling Ballads", Washington WLP 724 (USA) LP, 196x. This was a reissue of the Riverside album above.
*"English and Scottish Folk Ballads", Topic Records (UK) LP, 1964
*"Bold Sportmen All", Topic Records (UK) 10", 1958. CD reissue: Topic Records
*"Gamblers and Sporting Blades (Songs Of The Ring and the Racecourse)", Topic records (UK) 7" EP, 1962
*"A Sailor's Garland", Xtra Records (UK) LP, 1966
*"Blow Boys Blow (Songs of The Sea)", Tradition Records (USA) LP, 1967. CD Reissue: Tradition, 1996

Compilations and Contributions

*"Blow The Man Down", Topic Records (UK) 7" EP, 1956
*"The Iron Muse (A Panorama of Industrial Folk Music)", Topic Records (UK) LP, 1963
*"Farewell Nancy (Sea Songs and Shanties)", Topic Records (UK) LP, 1964
*"The Bird In The Bush (Traditional Erotic Songs)" , Topic Records (UK) LP, 1966
*"Singing The Fishing - A Radio Ballad", Argo Records (UK) LP, 1967
*"Babbacombe Lee" by Fairport Convention (1971) : Narration and arrangement
*"The Valiant Sailor (Songs & Ballads of Nelson's Navy)", Topic Records (UK) LP, 1973
*"Sea Shanties", Topic Records (UK) LP, 1974
*"The Transports "A Ballad Opera by Peter Bellamy)", Free Reed (UK) 2LP, 1977
*"Topic Sampler No. 1 - Folk Songs", Topic Records (UK) LP
*"Topic Sampler No. 2 - Folk Songs", Topic Records (UK) LP
*"Topic Sampler No. 3 - Men At Work", Topic Records (UK) LP
*"Topic Sampler No. 6 - A Collection Of Ballads & Broadsides", Topic Records (UK) LP
*"Topic Sampler No. 7 - Sea Songs & Shanties", Topic Records (UK) LP

Recorded and Edited By

*"Folk Music of Bulgaria", Topic Records (UK) LP, 1964
*"The Music of Albania", Topic Records (UK) LP, 1966


*A.L. Lloyd & Igor Vinogradoff, "Shadow of the Swastika", John Lane The Bodley Head Ltd, 1940.
*A.L. Lloyd, "The Singing Englishman. An introduction to folksong", Workers’ Music Association: London, 1944.
*A.L. Lloyd (Compiler), " Corn On The Cob (Popular and Traditional Poetry of the USA)" , Fore Publications Ltd, 1945.
*A.L. Lloyd, "Singing Englishmen : A collection of folk-songs specially prepared for a Festival of Britain concert given in association with the Arts Council of Great Britain.", 1951
*A.L. Lloyd (Compiler), "Coaldust Ballads" (Part-songs by various composers), London : Workers’ Music Association, 1952
*A.L. Lloyd (Compiler), "Come All Ye Bold Miners (Ballads & Songs of the Coalfield)", Lawrence & Wishart Ltd, 1952.
*R. Vaugh Williams and A.L. Lloyd (Editors), "The Penguin Book Of English Folk Songs", Penguin Books, 1959.
*A.L. Lloyd, " The Golden City", Methuen, 1960.
*A.L. Lloyd, "Folk Song in England", Lawrence & Wishart Ltd, 1967. Paperback edition: Paladin, 1975.


External links

* [http://cjtm.icaap.org/content/27/27_gregory.html Biography of A. L. Lloyd]
* [http://libweb.gold.ac.uk/collections/speccoll.php#llo The A. L. Lloyd Collection] - Lloyd's library and papers
* [http://www.informatik.uni-hamburg.de/~zierke/lloyd/records/index.html Discography at Reinhard Zierke's British Folk website]

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