EXPIRED: 12/24/09 – Tim Hart, 61, was the son of a vicar in St Albans, in the UK. His first band, the Rattfinks, was a typical beat band but not really the kind of music Hart was enjoying personally.
In 1966 he met singer Maddy Prior, and the tour started to gel together. Within 3 years they had released three albums of folk music, Folk Songs of Olde England (Volumes I & II) and Summer Solstice.
The duo became the heart of the band Steeleye Span, an eclectic group who recorded for a dozen years starting in 1970.
Steeleye Span typically put out collections of mostly traditional songs with one or two instrumental tracks of jigs and/or reels added in; the traditional songs often include some ballads for children. In their later albums there has been an increased tendency to include music written by the band members, but they have never got completely away from traditional music, which draws upon indigenous pan-British traditions.
As elder members left and new members came in they tried new things, like electrifying the music a bit and wearing traditional costumes on stage, but they never became “huge.” Ian Anderson, of Jethro Tull, produced one album for the band and at one point guest artists like David Bowie on saxaphone or Peter Sellers on ukelele joined in.
By their 9th album, punk rock was hammering the final nail in the coffin of electric folk, and the band was losing audience share. The dream was nearly over.
Hart took this opportunity to release a solo album, Tim Hart, in 1979, and two albums of nursery rhymes in 1981. He quit the band in 1982.
In poor health, Hart moved to La Gomera, a small island in the Canary Islands in 1988. Abandoning music altogether, he became full time writer and photographer, married again, built himself a house on the side of a mountain, and restored his health. As there was no guidebook to La Gomera available in English, Hart wrote, and took most of the photographs for, La Gomera: A Guide to the Unspoiled Canary Island (2004).
In 1995, Hart returned to England to perform a charity concert to benefit War Child. It featured most Steeleye Span members and is as close as anyone can really get to a reunion.
He did, however, reunite with his old love Maddy Prior, as part of a BBC on-air music festival just last year. Shortly thereafter he was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer. He sought treatment in the UK for most of 2009, but returned with his wife Conny to their home in La Gomera in early December 2009, where he passed away peacefully on Christmas Eve.