Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music
(b 6 May '15, Camden Town, London) British singer, songwriter. Many of his songs had a religious sensibility or were observations of a topical or satirical nature. Taught at Frensham Heights school until '40. Joined the Friends' Ambulance Service during the Second World War and served in this Quaker, that is, pacifist organisation around the same time as Donald Swann, later half of Flanders & Swann. While serving in Greece around '44 Carter listened to Greek folk music and references to this surfaced periodically in his later work. His debut release was Songs of Faith And Doubt on Argo in the early '60s. Putting Out The Dustbin with British actress Sheila Hancock on Transatlantic '62 yielded the novelty hit "Last Cigarette'; he worked with her, Jeremy Taylor and Chan Ming Lye on Words, Love, Music. He worked on songs for theatrical revues and in folk clubs; as well as working as a songwriter mid-'60s he worked as a critic for The Gramophone. Songs From ABC Television's "Hallelujah' (Fontana) '66 was a collection of performances by the team that made the TV series, incl. Martin Carthy, Nadia Cattouse, Isabel Sutherland and others. On EP Lord of the Dance released by Elektra '66 he was accompanied by guitarist Carthy and the Mike Sammes Singers, a popular vocal group of the day; this was an excellent snapshot of Carter's songwriting, incl. title song, "The Devil Wore A Crucifix' and "George Fox' among others. Sydney Carter and Jeremy Taylor At Eton teamed him with the South African guitarist '69 on Fontana. Bob and Carole Pegg recorded a collection of Carter's songs '72 called And Now It Is So Early for Galliard, to which Carter also contributed. A later anthology of his material, Lovely In The Dance, on Plant Life '81 included contributions from Maddy Prior of and John Kirkpatrick. A duo of Jackson Browne and David Lindley covered Carter's "Crow On The Cradle' for the No Nukes set '79 on Asylum; Carter laughed that the royalties arriving out of the blue messed up his quiet, unassuming relationship with the taxman for years. Much of Carter's songwriting was by his own admission disposable, but few songwriters ever achieve the immortality of the greatest hymnodists: future generations will sing his "Lord of the Dance' and marvel.