Rock legends rehearse on a boat for Ripley concert!

Chris Simpson takes a bow on stage with his band Magna Carta.

A Harrogate-born musician who sold eight million albums in the 1970s is returning to his roots for his classic acoustic rock band's first-ever concert in Ripley.

After an early life in the Dales, Chris Simpson found fame internationally as the leader of hit British folk-prog-rock band Magna Carta.

Acoustic rock legend Chris Simpson on his boat in his beloved Dales.

Now he’s bringing them to Ripley Town Hall in a few weeks’ time in what he says may be his last ever UK dates.

Chris said: “Ripley is steeped in history and my family’s history is there, too.

“All of my mother’s side of the family sleep in the churchyard and my cousin Kate still farms across the Ripon road.

"We go back at least a couple of hundred years in Ripley. As a child I heard many stories of the old way of life straight from Aunt Mary's kitchen in the village.

"Parts of those memories ended up in my book The Visitor."

Rehearsing on a boat

Magna Carta, whose live line-up includes ex-Steeleye Span and Albion Band guitarist and vocalist Ken Nichol, will be playing Ripley Town Hall on Saturday, September 2.

Over the decades the band have played in 78 countries, including performances at the Royal Albert Hall and Montreux Festival with Santana and Cat Stevens.

Such is Chris's commitment to the Dales, he spends a large part of his 'off duty' life in his pretty floating home on the canal near Skipton.

In fact, many of the recent rehearsals for the Ripley date have seen Chris, Ken and the band's violinist/vocalist Wendy Ross running through Magna Carta's back catalogue aboard Chris's boat!

Magna Carta's last-ever tour?

It’s an exciting date, too, for RipleyBlues founder Andy Herrington, the dedicated music fan who put on the first music gig at Ripley Town Hall more than ten years ago, turned it into a nationally-renowned live venue, and who still plays a part in bringing live music to the village.

Andy said: “About 15 years years ago I stood outside Ripley Town Hall with Chris Simpson while he mulled over the possibility of bringing Magna Carta to our venue.

“It has taken a while and the band have now toured in over 80 countries but at last they are coming home to Ripley and even the local farmer has booked tickets!

“Don’t miss this opportunity to see the band. It may be your last.”

Chris Simpson himself is dropping some heavy hints about the future.

He said: "I have notched up 75 years, mostly spent playing round the globe, and cannot go on for ever.”

What's in the setlist?

If it does prove to be his band's one and only Ripley concert, Chris is making sure Magna Carta are going out with a bang.

The setlist will range across the band’s 25 albums, including million seller Lord of the Ages and their recent acclaimed comeback album The Fields of Eden.

The band's Seasons album (one of three featuring later Elton John guitarist, Davey Johnstone) and Lord of the Ages albums (released on the iconic Vertigo label) sold in their millions, with total Magna Carta worldwide sales in excess of 8,000,000.

Another track from Seasons - Airport Song - has had almost 50,000 hits on just one YouTube link. Seasons itself has had in excess of 80,000 hits.

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