In homage to unsung hero Rory McEwan, writer King Adz curates five things you might not know about the Leadbelly-loving artist.

In homage to unsung hero Rory McEwan, writer King Adz curates five things you might not know about the Leadbelly-loving artist.

A new BBC Four programme – In Search of Rory McEwen – which premieres this Friday, February 13, is exploring the extraordinary backstory of ‘the man who brought the blues to Britain’.

Jools Holland narrates the tale of his father-in-law Rory McEwen – aristocrat, artist, folk singer and pioneering TV presenter – and it features rare archive footage, McEwen’s beautiful paintings and contributions from an eclectic cast including Van Morrison, David Dimbleby and Jonathan Miller.

In homage to the unsung hero, writer King Adz has curated these five things about him you might not know.

He’s Totally Self-Taught

He did it all (himself): influential Folk singer, pop artist, tv face, Laird of the lowland, journalist, and painter of killer botanical art all without any formal training.

He Influenced The Beatles

He convinced George Harrison to learn the sitar and probably changed the sound of pop/rock in the process. Spreading the DIY word, as it were.

He pioneered the ‘Road Trip Movie’

Collaborated with the great German conceptual artist Joseph Beuys and in 1970 they made a road movie depicting Beuys’ journey from Edinburgh across to Rannoch Moor. A blueprint to a DIY staple – the road trip/movie.

He impressed Leadbelly’s widow

In 1956 Rory travelled across America with his kid brother and creative partner-in-crime Alexander, search of blues legend Leadbelly’s widow, Martha along the way singing the blues as well as Scottish folk songs. When they found her she was so impressed by their understanding of, and skill at, playing her late husband’s music, that she allowed Rory to play Leadbelly’s custom-made 12-string Stella guitar, inspiring him to find his own.

He was the first person to play the 12-string guitar on British TV

Inspired by Leadbelly and his meeting with Martha, Rory brought a piece of American music history home with him.

In Search of Rory McEwen premieres on BBC Four February 13.