Life-long fan tells roller-coaster story of iconic band Lindisfarne

Lindisfarne, pictured in 1988.
Lindisfarne, pictured in 1988.

A new book which tells the story of iconic folk-rock band, Lindisfarne, has been written by a life-long fan.

We Can Swing Together is a thoroughly-researched history of the long-established North East group, as told by John Van der Kiste.

We can swing together, the story of Lindisfarne by John Van Der Kiste.

We can swing together, the story of Lindisfarne by John Van Der Kiste.

Complete with a detailed and comprehensive discography, as well as archive pictures and posters, it is essential reading for any lover of 1970s and 80s rock music.

It tells of the band’s colourful past, the ups and downs, and the singles, albums and concerts which made Lindisfarne a unique name in popular music history.

This fascinating book also includes information provided to the author by surviving original members such as Rod Clements – leader of the current line-up – and Ray Laidlaw.

And what a story it is. When, in 1969, singer-songwriter Alan Hull joined the group Brethren – renamed Lindisfarne shortly afterwards – nobody could have foreseen that the group’s name would still be around more than 40 years later.

It has been a chequered saga for them, from the members’ origins in the beat and folk boom of their teenage years, to their swiftly-won reputation as one of Britain’s most popular live attractions and the remarkable success of the chart-topping second album Fog on the Tyne.

Then there were issues – which divided them into two camps in 1973 and a total disbandment two years later – to a reunion following two annual series of Christmas concerts in their native Newcastle and beyond.

They survived the sudden death of Hull in 1995 and several changes in line-up until 2003, dispersing and then reforming again some 10 years later.

Van der Kiste says his book is ‘one life-long fan’s version’ of the Lindisfarne story. He says their position as Britain’s ultimate group was brief, but he has fond memories.

He says: ‘In the summer of 1972, I was taking my A-Levels. Rod Stewart was the top-selling album act, while Elton John and David Bowie were about to launch themselves into the stratosphere. Yet, the best-selling British album group at the time was Lindisfarne, with Fog on the Tyne.

‘Almost everyone at school had a copy and to crown it all, a bunch of us stumped up £1.25 each for tickets to see Lindisfarne live at Queen’s Hall, in Barnstaple.’

Van der Kiste, from Devon, has written more than 60 books, including titles on The Beatles, Jeff Lynne and Roy Wood.

We Can Swing Together is priced £16.99 and published by Fonthill Media. It is available in paperback, as well as in e-book form.