Renaissance Guitarist Michael Dunford Dies
Michael Dunford of Renaissance has died after suffering a massive brain haemorrhage, the band have confirmed.
The composer and guitarist was rushed to hospital from his home in Surrey on Monday night, having recently returned from the first leg of the band’s US tour.
Doctors found his condition was terminal, and he passed away the following evening without regaining consciousness.
Dunford formed skiffle band the Nashville Teens in 1962, leaving a year later before they enjoyed a number-six chart hit with their cover of Tobacco Road. Later bands included The Plebs and The Pentad, before becoming part of Renaissance in 1970.
In 2009 he told Progsheet: “I saw the original band playing near by at a university and immediately thought, ‘What a great idea – the fusion of classical, rock, folk.’ As I knew John Hawken very well, I found out that Keith Relf was going to leave. I almost begged him to offer me the job. I remember rehearsing in a cottage in the country working on a new song that I had just written which went on to become Ashes Are Burning.”
Under the guidance of Dunford and vocalist Annie Haslam, the band achieved success and acclaim, releasing 11 albums between 1972 and 1983 and achieving a top-ten hit single with Northern Lights in 1978.
They split in 1987, with both Dunford and Haslam leading their own versions of Renaissance throughout the 1990s. The musicians regrouped one band in 1991, with no other members of their classic-era lineup.
After another period of inactivity they hit the road to mark their 40th anniversary in 2009. Dunford explained: “Annie and I have always been in touch although she lives in the States and I live in the UK we constantly discuss various projects. We also have written a couple of songs since the last studio album Tuscany. I’m not sure but I think it was me that mentioned about us getting a Renaissance together again.”
They were gearing up for the release of new album Grandine il Vento, their first in twelve years, and their US tour was set to continue into 2013. Haslam recently celebrated the new working partnership she’d build with Dunford, saying the problems they’d encountered in the past were behind them. The band have not announced how his passing will affect their plans.
Instantaneous cerebral haemorrhages, like the one he suffered, are caused when bleeding takes place inside the brain tissue. The condition is fatal in over 40% of cases.
His wife Clare, sons William, 13, and Oliver, 10, and sister Judy were with him when he passed away. His life with be commemorated at a ceremony in Woking Crematorium at a date to be announced.