Atrax Records: The Swarb Archive: The Obituary Files
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In the early morning of Tuesday the 20th of April 1999, the Daily Telegraph hit newspaper racks throughout the country. Towards the back of the paper, the daily obituaries featured the "Civil Service high-flier" Sir George Bishop, sports writer Michael Melford, and "violinist and singer" Dave Swarbrick. A few hours later the news of Swarb's passing had spread throughout the music world and his considerable fan-base and the phone-lines of Swarb's wife, Jill, and former Fairport Convention colleague, Dave Pegg, were red-hot with messages of sympathy and shock. The Telegraph's obituary was glowing in it's praise for Dave's forty-year musical career, in the words of the man himself "I thought they were very kind to me, nice photo too...". Unfortunately the well-researched and detailed piece had one rather important mistake, namely that the subject wasn't actually dead!
Much to the relief of everyone who knew Swarb, and much to the embarassment of the Daily Telegraph, he was still with us. Despite being ill in hospital with a chest infection, Swarb had been moved out of intensive care into a recovery ward the night before and was now sitting up in bed incredulously trying to take it all in.
The following day's Telegraph carried a brief footnote apology for their "inadvertent error". Almost every other newspaper made rather more of it, devoting considerable coverage to the story. The obituary inspired a new series on BBC's Radio 5 Live, as well as the memorable quote of "It's not the first time I've died in Coventry" from Swarb himself.
This section of The Swarb Archive collects together some of the numerous items that appeared in the press, including the obituary itself, as well as coverage over the following week.
The Obituary. Daily Telegraph, April 20 1999.
Loved The Obituary, But I'm Not Dead Daily Mail, April 21 1999.
Reports of My Death.... The Mirror, April 21 1999.
Fairport star wakes up to his obituary The Independent, April 21 1999.
Dave’s not dead, though he nearly died laughing The Banbury Guardian, April 22 1999.
Last updated on 26 September 2002