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Matt McGinn

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Biography

Born in the Calton district in Glasgow, Matt McGinn lived with his parents and eight siblings in cramped quarters. Although yearning to go to Protestant school with his friends in his formative years, his parents raised McGinn Catholic. At the age of 12, after being caught breaking into a store, McGinn was sent to St. Mary's Approved School for 18 months. The time away changed McGinn's life around. After leaving St. Mary's, he did a series of odd jobs, from running errands for a florist shop to becoming an assistant for a blacksmith. He was also influenced during this period by local citizens orating about the values of socialism and anarchy. In 1949, he joined the Communist Party and during a Party meeting, he met his future wife, Janette Gallacher. In 1956, McGinn left the Communist Party, but his ideology never left. While working at a screw factory, he organized the workers to unionize and a strike was called. His work at the factory earned him a scholarship to Ruskin College. It was also at this time when McGinn's first album, The Iron Muse, was released. From there, he enrolled in Oxford University's economics and political science programs. In 1964, McGinn was part of another album highlighting the Edinburgh Folk Festival. Known to write sometimes six songs in a day, McGinn released his self-titled album on Transatlantic Records in 1966. The same year, he also released Matt McGinn Again and To-Night at the Attic. His popularity grew as his songs mixed poignant history with a touch of humor. Two more albums were released in 1968, as well as two more in 1971, including a reference to an Elvis Presley album entitled 5,227,706 Scotsmen Can't Be Wrong! on Transatlantic Records. His biggest album was 1972's The Two Heided Man on Emerald Gem Records. This was followed up by The Two Heided Man Strikes Again in 1974. A poet and novelist as well, McGinn met an untimely fate at the height of his popularity. On January 5, 1977, a fire destroyed McGinn's home in Kelvingrove, a district of Glasgow, and he was killed in the fire. Credited in part with shaping the British and Celtic folk revival of the '60s, McGinn's work has been a source of influence for many Scottish and folk musicians. In 2001, The Return of the Two Heided Man was re-released. ~ Jason MacNeil