Stalwart of folk music scene dies after battle with cancer

ONE of Edinburgh’s best-known folk music promoters has died after a brave battle with cancer.

Iain MacLennan lost his fight with bladder cancer two days ago in his home town of Forres, near Elgin.

Mr MacLennan was one of the most prominent figures in the Capital folk scene for almost 30 years and helped bring hundreds of singers and musicians to the city. Most recently, the keen cyclist was the secretary of Edinburgh Folk Club, which regularly hosts events at the Pleasance Bar and in pubs across the city.

A memorial ceilidh will be held in the Capital within the next few months at Mr MacLennan’s request, which will be attended by hundreds of folk music fans.

Friends and family members today paid tribute to the "quiet" 53-year-old, who had worked as a computer technician at Heriot-Watt University for the past few years.

His younger brother, Alasdair, said Iain had lived a "full and entertaining life, which was unfortunately cut short".

The 47-year-old said: "Iain never married because his true love was folk music. It wasn’t a family tradition and he never actually played an instrument. But he adored listening to Scottish music and he was involved in almost every folk club in Edinburgh since moving there in the 1970s.

"It was his passion and he dearly wanted to return to Edinburgh after his illness to continue his work. But despite his battle with bladder cancer over the last few months in Forres, he died peacefully in hospital on Thursday morning.

"He wanted us to celebrate his life and that is exactly what we will do. A humanist service is being held next Wednesday in a local pub and we will hear a lot of folk music before travelling to the crematorium.

"He will be sorely missed by all of us, especially our mother and father."

Mr MacLennan moved to Edinburgh in the mid-70s to work for the Ferranti engineering firm, which was responsible for making various pieces of equipment for Concorde.

In his spare time he established his own website,, which lists forthcoming folk events across Scotland.

He also visited festivals across Britain, often cycling on his bike from his home in North Fort Street, Leith, to venues as far away as Whitby in North Yorkshire.

Around three years ago he was asked by Edinburgh Folk Club chairman Paddy Bort to become a committee member and secretary of the club. Mr Bort said today: "Iain was a quiet man, but an exceptionally knowledgeable and reliable secretary of the folk club’s committee. We will sorely miss his tremendous input.

"He was a stalwart of the Edinburgh folk scene for 30 years. He could play a tune on the tin whistle and occasionally sang, but most of the time he just enjoyed listening to the music. He brought the best folk singers in the world to Edinburgh.

"It was a real blow when he found out about the cancer last October. He had radiotherapy at the Western General and then he went up north to be with his family.

"He was adamant he would make it back down to Edinburgh as he was missing the folk club greatly.

"So it was very sad to hear about his death, especially coming so soon after [Edinburgh-based folk singer] Bobby Eaglesham had a heart attack and died last October."

Simon Thoumire, the organiser of one of Edinburgh’s premier folk events, Hands Up for Trad, added: "Iain was a true supporter of our traditional music, and the scene will be much sorrier with his passing."

Professor Julian Jones, head of the school of engineering and physical sciences at Heriot-Watt, said: "We were all very saddened to hear of Iain’s death, and he will be much missed by his colleagues."

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