Diane Hamilton


Diane Hamilton

Diane Hamilton was the pseudonym of Diane Guggenheim (1924–1991), an American mining heiress, folksong patron and founder of "Tradition Records".

Contents

Personal life

The only child of millionaire Harry Frank Guggenheim, president of Newsday and onetime U. S. ambassador to Cuba, and his second wife, Caroline Morton (formerly Mrs William Chapman Potter), Hamilton was born as Diana Guggenheim in New York City, New York. She had two half sisters, Joan (born 1913) and Nancy (1915–1972), from her father's first marriage to Helen Rosenberg.

Her maternal grandfather was Paul Morton, U. S. Secretary of the Navy, while her maternal great-grandfather was Julius Sterling Morton, U. S. Secretary of Agriculture.

She was married and divorced four times:

  • Lieutenant John Meredith Langstaff, a U. S. Army officer and aspiring concert singer, married 1943. They had one child, Diane Carol Langstaff (Mrs Peter Duveneck, Mrs Jim Rooney).
  • Robert Guillard
  • William Meek, an Irish journalist, whom she married in 1963. They had four children: Eoin Meek, Colin Meek, Sorcha Meek (adopted), and Catriona Meek (adopted; Mrs Thomas Nelson).
  • John Darby Stolt, aka John Darby-Hamilton

Career

Very little is known of Hamilton's life, and only since the publication of the book "The Mountain of the Women: Memoirs of an Irish Troubadour" by Liam Clancy has it been possible to reconstruct her most notable years. In order to disguise her wealth, she adopted the alias 'Diane Hamilton'.

In 1955 she traveled to Ireland in search of Irish folk singers. According to Liam Clancy's book, she became acquainted with Tom and Paddy Clancy in New York, and while in Ireland made the Clancy household one of the stops on her collecting trip. Young Liam was invited to continue on the trip with her, and one of the next stops was the home of Sarah Makem who had previously been recorded by Jean Ritchie on her album "Field Trip" (1954). This fateful meeting brought together Liam and Sarah's younger son, Tommy Makem, who was also recorded. These two, along with Liam's older brothers Paddy and Tom Clancy, would eventually form "The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem", one of the most successful groups in Irish music history.

The anthology Diane Hamilton recorded in 1955 as "The Lark in the Morning" is the earliest album-length collection of Irish folk songs sung by Irish singers to be recorded in Ireland. Also on the album are Paddy Tunney and Tommy Makem, son of Sarah Makem. This album was re-released in a restored format in the late 1990s on the Rykodisc label.

Attempted Suicide

According to Emmanuel Kehoe in his article "The Trouble With Defining Truth" in "The Sunday Business Post", Diane became infatuated with Liam Clancy. She took him to her father's house on Long Island. Liam Clancy had a strict religious upbringing, so when she tried to have sex with him, it was, in Clancy's own words, ‘‘an incredibly frightening episode". Shortly afterwards she made a suicide attempt. Clancy drove her to a hospital for treatment. From there she was then taken to an asylum, where Clancy tracked her down. She asked him to phone Harry Guggenheim so that she could get out of the institution. Harry Guggenheim may well have disapproved of this hopelessly romantic love affair, since he transferred her to another institution. Rather than chase her again, Clancy gave up, saying: "And I went down to New York and I was free."

Tradition Records

Another member of the Clancy family, Paddy Clancy, helped Diane run Tradition Records. "The Lark in the Morning" was the first album to be released on Tradition in 1955. Future releases included "The Rising of the Moon" by The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem, and "The Countess Cathleen" by W.B. Yeats in 1956. Other notable releases include "Negro Prison songs", a compilation by Alan Lomax and "The Bonny Bunch of Roses" Seamus Ennis. Other artists include Ed McCurdy, Odetta, Paul Clayton, Lightnin' Hopkins and Etta Baker. Once the Clancy Brothers were signed to Columbia Records in 1961, the catalogue was sold, possibly to Transatlantic. In 1959 the label released "John Langstaff sings American and English Ballads". This had her husband singing, and Nancy Trowbridge on piano. Nancy later became John Langstaff's second wife. The album was rereleased by Revels Records in 2002 as "The Water Is Wide: American and British Ballads and Folksongs".

In the 1970's, Meek was involved in the founding of the Mulligan record label, in Dublin. She may have regarded Donal Lunny as the successor to Liam Clancy as the next standard-bearer of the authentic Irish traditional music heritage.

A passing reference to Hamilton in a California folk music magazine suggests that she was still active in Irish music as late as the early 1980s. The November–December 1982 issue of Folk Scene (Los Angeles) credits her with "the lion's share of the work" for the recording The Gathering[disambiguation needed ] which features the playing of Matt Molloy, Paul Brady, Andy Irvine and Donal Lunny.[1]

Notes

  1. ^ Folk Scene, Los Angeles, CA, November–December 1982, Vol. 10, #5, p. 14.

References

External references


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