Words by Kevin Bourke/Photo by Douglas Robertson
After a short illness, Angus R Grant, the mercurial fiddler and frontman of Shooglenifty, has died peacefully at home at the age of 49, surrounded by family and close friends.
With his rock’n’roll swagger, Grant made fiddle playing cool and helped make the Edinburgh-based band one of Scotland’s most successful. Renowned for their ‘acid croft’ dancefloor filling sounds, the band have built a global following with their crowd-pleasing appearances at festivals and were regulars at major events like Celtic Connections, rounding off their 25th-anniversary tour last December with a special performance at Edinburgh’s Hogmanay celebrations.
The son of the renowned left-handed fiddle player, Aonghas Grant, he was given a quarter-sized instrument by his uncle at the age of five and amazed his family by having three tunes on the go after just a few days. Although teenage years saw him enthralled by the do-it-yourself ethos of punk and giving up fiddle for electric guitar, by the time his late-80s outfit Swamptrash started to transmogrify into Shooglenifty, he had returned to his first instrument.
“With their first album Venus in Tweeds, the band took the folk world by the scruff of the neck…and they’ve kept on shaking ever since,” observed manager Jane-Ann Purdy. “Shooglenifty filled most of Angus’ musical life over the past 26 years, leading audiences in a merry dance and influencing a whole generation of musicians. He lived without ties and responsibility, but was devoted to his music, his family and his fellow musicians.”