Nic Jones is a legend of British folk music. His 1980 album Penguin Eggs was widely acknowledged as a classic and he was poised for international stardom – but a near-fatal car crash in 1982 changed his life forever.
The Enigma Of Nic Jones: Return Of Britain’s Lost Folk Hero tells the story of Nic’s determination to sing again and his return to the stage 30 years later.
In a poll by the Observer a few years ago, Penguin Eggs was rated number 79 of the ’100 Best Records Of All Time’ – amazing for an LP that never actually charted. His iconic song Canadee-i-o has even been covered by Bob Dylan.
Many believe that Nic was destined for international stardom; his funky, rhythmical and percussive guitar style and smooth singing meant that his music crossed musical barriers. But in 1982, at the peak of his career, Nic was involved in a horrific car accident driving home from a gig one night and his life changed forever.
Almost every bone in his body was broken and neurological damage meant that he would never play his guitar in front of an audience again. Apart from a couple of tribute concerts, Nic Jones disappeared from the public eye for 30 years.
Then, in the summer of 2012, encouraged by friends and family, Nic returned to the stage to play several festival performances accompanied by his guitarist son, Joe Jones and keyboard player Belinda O’Hooley.
The concerts were a resounding success and for his old and new fans, a moving comeback for their musical hero.
This film is not only the emotional story of Nic’s return, but also demonstrates why he is so revered, not just in folk circles but across all music genres.
Filmmaker Michael Proudfoot says: “In 1971 I was 17 years old; by chance, I happened upon Nic Jones playing at a local folk club at The Boundary Inn in Worksop, Nottinghamshire. I wasn’t really a Traditional music fan but I remember being completely entranced by his funky guitar playing and singing; ever since that night, Nic’s music has been a part of my life. I wasn’t the only one; this modest man, who hasn’t played the guitar in front of an audience for 30 years, continues to be a huge influence on each new musical generation, not just in the world of English folk but in acoustic rock as well.”
Nic has inspired a whole generation of younger artists, including BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards winners Jim Moray, Eliza Carthy, Sam Carter and Blair Dunlop. They all appear in the film, as does critically acclaimed American singer/songwriter Anais Mitchell.
Folk legends Martin Carthy, Martin Simpson, Chris Wood and ex Fairport Convention founder Ashley Hutchings are also featured and the film is narrated by singer/songwriter Cerys Matthews.
The Enigma Of Nic Jones: Return Of Britain’s Lost Folk Hero will be premiered at the How The Light Gets In Festival on Saturday the 1st of June as part of BBC Four’s partnership with the festival, with filmmaker Michael Proudfoot introducing the film.