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Family Business

A 1984 Conversation With Bob & John Copper.

A quick potted history. The Copper family have worked in and around Rottingdean, Sussex, for centuries. In 1897, Mrs Kate Lee collected the songs from James "Brasser" Copper and his younger brother Tom that would inspire the formation of the English Folk Song Society. In 1936, Brasser's son Jim wrote the words of the family songs into a book. In 1950, Jim heard one of their songs sung on the radio. Persuaded by his son Bob, he wrote in and as a result the Copper family were re-discovered, the rich Sussex harmonies of Jim, Bob, Jim's brother John and son Ron filling the airwaves.

John, Lynn, Bob, Jill, Jon: Central Club, Peacehaven, 1984
John, Lynn, Bob, Jill, Jon: Central Club, Peacehaven, 1984 (Photo: I. Anderson)

All of this, and the way of life that went with the songs, has been documented in Bob's books published by Heinemann in the '70s. Now another generation of Coppers are out singing regularly again - this time it's Bob, his son John and daughter Jill, and their spouses Lynn and Jon (Dudley) - and they're a joy to hear. What's more, on the first Thursday of each month they host the Coppersongs club at the Central Club, Peacehaven (John Copper having succeeded Bob as landlord), and it's the best, most hospitable gig we know of. Ian Anderson and Maggie Holland returned a week after one of those sessions to talk with Bob and John Copper about the family, the songs, the singing, and more. Read the feature

This feature first appeared in issue 20 of The Southern Rag (the original title of fRoots) in April 1984.

 

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