The band had done a gig (with Eclection) at Mother’s Birmingham (where the same year Pink Floyd had recorded the live half of “Ummagumma”) on 11 May 1969. Remember, this was the end of the swinging sixties, and attitudes to driving were a little looser than they later became.
Remember also that front cover of “What we did…”, which effectively identifies the roadie, who on the back photo can be seen twiddling with the amps, as “Harvey”; and with great prescience even gives him a prison number. The blackboard drawing also shows the ailing van heralding “Fairport’s triumphal arrival at yet another gig”. And of course, the first LP featured the instrumental “M1 Breakdown”.
So, the group was in that van, heading back to London on the M1 early on 12 May 1969. Sandy was not in it, she was travelling with her boyfriend Trevor Lucas, then of Eclection, in a separate vehicle; and Ian Matthews had left the band altogether. The other 4 members were in the van, together with Richard Thompson’s “sort of” girlfriend, Jeannie (The Tailor) Franklyn; and the roadie Harvey Bramham was driving.
Not far from the Scratchwood Services, the van veered off the road, and there was a nasty accident with two fatalaties, the drummer Martin Lamble, and Jeannie (The Taylor) Franklyn. Harvey was convicted of causing death by dangerous driving, and indeed served a term in prison.
There is a second post! Here it is:
Fortunately for the planet, but not really for Martin Lamble or Jeannie Franklyn, Joe Boyd had already got the finished tapes for the third LP “Unhalfbricking” before the accident happened. Again there is a touch of irony here. “Unhalfbricking” was released about a week after the crash, the drummer thereon accordingly being dead at the time. The penultimate tune on the record is a brilliant rendition of a Dylan composition, “Percy’s Song”. I have never heard any other version of this tune, though presumably Dylan himself must have done one; is it on the Basement Tapes, perhaps? Anyway, the song deals with a car crash in which 4 people were killed, and while only two died in the band’s case, it is still a bit of a macarbre coincidence.
The final point to note is that Jeannie (who was a cousin of Phil Ochs) was for some strange and unknown reason commemorated by Jack Bruce with his first solo LP after the demise of Cream, ” Songs for a Tailor”, released in 1969.