About Andy Irvine
Andrew Kennedy Irvine is an Irish folk musician, singer-songwriter, and a founding member of Sweeney's Men, Planxty, Patrick Street, Mozaik, LAPD and Usher's Island. He also featured in duos, with Dónal Lunny, Paul Brady, Mick Hanly, Dick Gaughan, Rens van der Zalm, and Luke Plumb. Irvine plays the mandolin, mandola, bouzouki, harmonica, and hurdy-gurdy.
He has been influential in folk music for over five decades, during which he recorded a large repertoire of songs and tunes he assembled from books, old recordings and folk-song collectors rooted in the Irish, English, Scottish, Eastern European, Australian and American old-time and folk traditions.
As a child actor, Irvine honed his performing talent from an early age and learned the classical guitar. He switched to folk music after discovering Woody Guthrie, also adopting the latter's other instruments: harmonica and mandolin. While extending Guthrie's guitar picking technique to the mandolin,: 20 he further developed his playing of this instrument—and, later, of the mandola and the bouzouki—into a decorative, harmonic style,: 38 and embraced the modes and rhythms of Bulgarian folk music.
Along with Johnny Moynihan and Dónal Lunny, Irvine is one of the pioneers who adapted the Greek bouzouki—with a new tuning—into an Irish instrument. He contributed to advancing the design of his instruments in co-operation with English luthier Stefan Sobell, and he sometimes plays a hurdy-gurdy made for him in 1972 by Peter Abnett, another English luthier.: 119, 170
Although touring mainly as a soloist, Irvine has also enjoyed great success in pursuing collaborations through many projects that have influenced contemporary folk music. He continues to tour and perform extensively in Ireland, Great Britain, Europe, North and South America, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. In October 2018, he received the first Lifetime Achievement Award bestowed at RTÉ Radio 1's inaugural Folk Music Awards.
Andy Irvine was born in St John's Wood, northwest London on 14 June 1942 to an Irish mother from Lisburn, County Antrim, and a Scottish father from Glasgow.: 35 His mother had been a musical comedy actress who performed under the stage name of Felice Lascelles: 400, 418 and Irvine would later say that "she may have given up the stage, but she never stopped acting!".: 35–36 At the age of three-and-a-half, Irvine started attending boarding school, where he would later play football during the winter season, rugby during the spring season, and cricket during the summer season, all of which fostered his lifelong passion for team sports.
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