It is with great sadness that we have to tell you that our dear friend and colleague Simon Cowe has died yesterday, 30th September. Simon had been ill for some time, and was being cared for in hospital in Toronto, a city he had made his home since the early nineties. At the moment we don't have the words to express how we feel. Our thoughts are with his children Jessie, Dylan, and Bernadette.Lindisfarne was formed in Newcastle upon Tyne, England in 1968 with Cowe on guitar, mandolin, banjo and keyboards, Ray Jackson (vocals, mandolin), Rod Clements (bass) and Ray Laidlaw (drums). Originally known as The Downtown Faction and, later, Brethren, they finally settled on Lindisfarne when Alan Hull (vocals, guitar) joined the band.
The band signed with Charisma Records in 1970 and they released their debut, Nicely Out of Tune. While the album didn't sell well at first, the band was undeterred and put out their second set, Fog on the Tyne, the next year. The album shot to the top of the British charts and reinvigorated interest in the debut, sending it up to number 8. Meet Me on the Corner from Tyne became their first major hit, hitting number 5, and they followed with a re-released Lady Eleanor from their first album which went to number 3 and became their highest charting hit.
In 1972, they recorded their third album, Dingly Dell, but the reception was not as good and internal fighting caused Cowe, Clements and Laidlaw to separate to form their own group, Jack the Lad. The new band dropped the more progressive sound of Lindisfarne in an attempt to become a more traditional sounding folk-rock group like Fairport Convention. Between 1974 and 1976, they released four albums and seven singles but all failed to chart with Cowe leaving the band before they recorded their final set.
While there had been strife within Lindisfarne, the original members remained friends, playing a Christmas show every year in their hometown. Finally, in early-1978, the original five members officially reformed the band. Cowe remained with them until 1994, recording seven albums, before he left to emigrate to Toronto and a new life running a microbrewery. Simon did return to Newcastle in November 2005 for a memorial concert for Alan Hull.