Michael Chapman, guitarist and songwriter who won over fans like David Bowie with his fusion of folk, country, jazz, rock and blues – obituary


Michael Chapman, who died at the age of 80, was a gruff-voiced maverick guitarist, singer and songwriter whose individual approach won the admiration of fellow musicians – Elton John and David Bowie among them. – if not the mainstream popularity that his talent deserved.

Not that he had ever thirsted for fame. Indeed, on the brink of fame following his acclaimed album Fully Qualified Survivor in 1970, he took the stage at the launch of his follow-up, Window at Queen Elizabeth Hall in London and told audiences not to buy it. .

He argued that the tracks on the record were only demos and that his Harvest label – eager to capitalize on the groundbreaking success of Fully Qualified Survivor – pulled it behind his back before it was finished.

Unsurprisingly, the record sank without a trace and cemented Chapman’s reputation as an uncompromising loner who despised a recording industry that never knew how to deal with him. His dynamic mix of styles had roots in jazz, blues, rock, and country, but he was most often described as a folk artist, which infuriated him.

“I’m a songwriter who plays a lot of guitar and I’m a guitarist who writes a lot of songs,” he said. “I can’t sing and I don’t pretend I can. “

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