17.9.26. - 27.12.17
I first met Stan Francis in the Autumn of 1958 when I was persuaded to go to a Folk club in the basement of a restaurant in Liverpool. Stan was playing and singing with a group of people some of whom became the famous Spinners Folk Group. When it was decided to form a group Stan made it clear he wanted to spend more time making guitars.
Stan’s father George played banjo and was very influential in Stan’s life as he was a competent engineer and woodworker. Stan made twelve string guitars which were much admired by musicians on both sides of the Atlantic with very many famous people buying and playing them. Pete Seeger, Lonnie Donegan, Tom Springfield, Brian Jones and of course Mick Groves and Hughie Jones of the Spinners. Stan also made mandolins and had a workshop in a shed at the bottom of his garden where he entertained visiting musicians. Stan and his wife June had many callers wanting to chat and play his instruments and were always made welcome. Stan’s final guitar, No. 71 was made in 2009 and the final mandolin, No. 18 in 2006. Stan kept a little book of all the details of the instruments he made and the people he made them for.
Famous US guitar maker Martin recently brought out a lookalike Stan 12 string guitar called the Pete Seeger model. Unfortunately they omitted to credit Stan.
Stan was a quite man and very modest about his achievements he had been an apprentice engineer at Camell Laird’s Ship Builders, and engineer in the merchant navy, a draughtsman and a design engineer for Unilever until he retired at the age of 67.
In later years Stan would visit Folk clubs and other music venues and we, at the Everyman Folk Club were always pleased to see him. Stan would come to the Everyman Folk Club, he would tell me a joke and ask it if it was suitable to tell to the audience. He sold me a banjo in 1959 for £2 which I still play occasionally.
Stan leaves two daughters.
Chris Jones, Everyman Folk Club.