Exceptionally creative folk singer-songwriter and virtuosic guitarist Michael Chapman has sadly passed away at his home on the 10th of September, aged 80. His cause of death remains unspecified however, an official statement confirming his passing was issued via his Instagram page.
Michael Chapman was born in Leeds in 1941 and began releasing music in the late 60s, with his formative debut Rainmaker being released in 1969 on EMI-owned label Harvest, cementing his place in history as an esteemed, and occasionally unsung hero of British music. Chapman’s output in the following decades showed no signs of slowing down, with a further ten albums being released in the 1970s and another nine albums between 1980 and 2000. Impressively, the musician’s final album True North was released in 2019 when he was 77 years of age.
By that point, Chapman had amassed over forty albums across his career and had been regularly touring the UK, USA and Europe. In 2012, a cover album celebrating his work was released by Tompkins Square Records, entitled Oh Michael, Look What You’ve Done: Friends Play Michael Chapman. The record featured contributions from musicians such as William Tyler, Lucinda Williams and Thurston Moore.
As for his sound, Chapman was no meagre emulation of his contemporaries or peers, which is evidenced not only by his songwriting abilities and thoughtful lyrics but in particular the virtuosic guitar playing that features all across his discography; from the blistering instrumental tunes on Rainmaker to the subdued, bittersweet fingerpicking of 1995’s Navigation.
Since his passing, an outpouring of heartfelt tributes have been made in Chapman’s memory by friends, family and prominent musical figures such as Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore, who stated “We got to know England when (and because) we got to know you. Thank you hero. Rest in Ecstatic Peace Michael Chapman (1941-2021)”, accompanied by a video of Chapman playing the guitar.