As years go by, acquaintance with death is unavoidable. Friends, relatives, former colleagues and people you know a little or a lot succumb to nature's way of doing things.
The certainty of mortality hardly makes it easier when loved or liked ones pass away. I am so sorry to have to report that Rab Noakes, a wonderful Scottish singer-songwriter, has died, suddenly in hospital according to his friend Barbara Dickson.
My dear and old friend Rab Noakes has died suddenly in hospital today. I am shocked. We had so much in common - The Everly Brothers, the Flying Burrito Brothers and an enduring love of songs, particularly traditional music. Sleep well, Rab. May you rest in peace. Bx #rabnoakes pic.twitter.com/BVXhJOFqCW— Barbara Dickson (@BarbaraDickson) November 11, 2022
There is something particularly disconcerting about hearing someone you met only as a young man was all of 75 when his time came. For me, he never grew old.
Like Barbara, Rab was a regular visitor to the folk clubs of North-eastern England that I frequented, ran and helped to run back in the late 1960s and the start of the 1970s. They also collaborated, performing and recording together or Barbara singing Rab’s songs.
In short, Rab was one of those maddeningly gifted artists who would come down to our clubs from Scotland and show us how it should be done. I had not seen him, face to face or singing live, since moving away half a century ago though I remained familiar with his work and we did exchange, like or retweet very occasional Twitter messages.
Seriously underrated, as one of the tributes that follow asserts, Rab Noakes nevertheless commanded huge respect from other singers, writers and musicians as well as the audiences he entertained in such accomplished fashion.
I will let others tell of their grief at his death and the admiration they felt for this outstanding artist.
For one of my clips, I have chosen a live rendition of one of the Rab Noakes songs I instantly called to mind when hearing he had died. Here, in the familiar format of performing with Lindisfarne, is a live version of Together Forever.
And now for a few other words on Rab, starting with those of Linda Thompson, another great musical product of Scotland, plus two more clips. You can explore more of his music at YouTube and read up on his career at Wikipedia.
Heartbroken about Rab Noakes. We were friends for well over 50 years. We were due to have lunch in a couple of weeks. Oh Jesus!
Bill Taylor, friend in Canada and regular Salut! Live contributor
This is so sad. And he was SO under-rated. It's hard to find but I love his version of Utah Phillips's The Goodnight Loving Trail. He was a great friend of Lindisfarne's. There's a nice video on YouTube of the band and Rab in concert doing Together Forever. [found and included above - Ed]. And Lindisfarne's Turn a Deaf Ear includes him in one of the verses:
My friend's girl, she has a wireless aerial sticking out of her head
And a pile of True Romances lying underneath the bed
And a giant poster of Rabby Noakes just beside the door
But I know she'll get along fine without him if he doesn't see her any more
Ken Alderson, Salut! Live Facebook group member
Discovered him via Lindisfarne song credits, Branch still on the jukebox. Beautiful singer.
Steve Peck, also a member of our Facebook group
Wow, this hit me like a heavy ton of bricks. I discovered Rab here over the in the States almost by accident back in 2018. He's been my constant companion. He epitomized joy for me, even tho some of his music is sadder and darker. I actually bawled when I heard it. I don't think I've done that since John Prine died. </blockquote>
And from John Sakamoto, a highly respected Canadian music writer, comes my second clip, to which his pal, Bill, refers above
And finally, one of those collaborations with Barbara Dickson, talking and singing ...