Jack Elliott

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Jack Elliott was a miner from Birtley in County Durham. He and his wife Em brought up four children in the 1930s and 40s, and the family sang continually in the house, in the streets, and at the pub. Their songs ranged from kids' game songs to Child ballads, but it's probably for their pit songs that they are best known. The Elliotts came to prominence in the folk revival due to the interests of Ewan MacColl,Bert Lloyd and others, and helped bring about the concept of industrial folk song. There was also a strong political and social feeling in the way the family sang which suited the temperament of the times. Jack Elliott and brother Reece in particular show how humour and sheer determination helped them and their families cope with some pretty rotten conditions. Jack unfortunately died in 1966, but the family continue the tradition to this day, and the Birtley Folk Club, founded in 1962, still meets at the Buffalos' club every Wednesday. Jack and his family are the subject of a 2008 biography (see below and The Elliotts of Birtley}.

Jack and his family featured in many recordings and documentaries, notably the following:

The Elliotts of Birtley, LP on Folkways, 1962, from recordings made by Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger, still available from the Library of Congress. (http://www.smithsonianglobalsound.org/)

Jack Elliott of Birtley, Leader Records LEA 4001, 1969, from amateur recordings of Jack, and the first record issued on Bill leader's label.

The Elliotts of Birtley, Pete Wood, Herron Publishing 2008. A biography of the family with a forward by Peggy Seeger.