Fifty years of Harrogate's million-selling rock star

Harrogate's biggest-selling musician of the golden age of rock albums in the late 1960s and 1970s is looking back this festive season on his Dales roots and his half century of performing on stage.

Thursday, 20th December 2018, 3:01 pm
Updated Thursday, 20th December 2018, 3:13 pm
New album and book - Harrogate's Chris Simpson who founded the band Magna Carta.
New album and book - Harrogate's Chris Simpson who founded the band Magna Carta.

Folk-pop-rock-prog legend Chris Simpson not only has a new career-spanning album of BBC sessions and live tracks out by his hugely successful band Magna Carta, his classic seasonal fiction book The Visitor has also been-re-published.

Chris said: “When we started out in folk clubs, and with the first album, none of us ever figured it would last.“There was just three of us, me with the songs, guitar and vocals. Glen Stuart harmony vocals, and Lyell Tranter guitar.“Next May I will have been on the road 50 years. The new album is a labour of love helped by my old friend and fellow Harrogateonian Will Jackson.”

Called Love On The Wire, the album’s 36 tracks include early songs recorded at the Royal Albert Hall in 1971 when Elton John’s guitarist Davey Johnstone was a member of Magna Carta.

Chris Simpson said: “It’s a bit unnerving to listen to some of it now. Through changing times and seasons we rolled across the world and sold nine million albums in our first decade.”

One of the tracks, a cover of Bob Dylan’s Tomorrow Is A Long Time from 2000, features one-time Magna Carta member musician Tom Hoy, who lives in Knaresborough, on leads vocals.

Fittingly, Love On The Wire, which is released on Repertoire Records, ends with a track by Chris and Magna Carta recorded at Grassington Festival in 2014 about his beloved Dales.

This memorable closer neatly ties in with his rural novella The Visitor which has just been republished by McNidder and Grace.

Now in his mid-70s and living near Skipton, Chris said: “The story is based on a true event in a farming community in deep winter in the Dales.“When it was first published I was totally overcome by the reception it received.“