Judy Dyble was the original female singer in Fairport Convention, singing with the group from around mid-1967 to mid-1968, and appearing on their first album and single. (She was actually not in the very first incarnation of Fairport Convention, which had no female singers, but joined only a few months after their first performance.) Dyble's reputation has suffered somewhat in light of her replacement by one of the finest folk-rock singers of all time, Sandy Denny, before Fairport's second album. In fact, though, she was a perfectly adequate and respectable vocalist, if somewhat chaste, particularly in comparison to Denny. With Fairport, she sang harmony and the occasional solo lead, as on the cuts "One Sure Thing" and "If I Had a Ribbon Bow," and also played autoharp.
Fairport got Sandy Denny into the band to replace Dyble, partly out of dissatisfaction with Dyble's more genteel style, and partly to add a vocalist with a power that Dyble didn't possess. Dyble's career, though, didn't end there. She played a still-overlooked role in the genesis of King Crimson, who, despite their pompous prog rock image, actually had some folky roots. In June 1968, Dyble advertised in Melody Maker for a band, getting a response from Peter Giles, then playing with future King Crimson members Michael Giles and Robert Fripp in the trio Giles, Giles & Fripp. Ian McDonald, another early King Crimson member, was also working with Dyble. In 1968, some quite nice numbers were taped with a tentative band in which Giles, Giles & Fripp were fleshed out by McDonald and Dyble, bridging the gap between folk-rock and jazzy prog rock. A few of the tracks on which Dyble sang appear on the archival Giles, Giles & Fripp release The Brondesbury Tapes (1968), including two early versions of "I Talk to the Wind," which would be one of the songs on King Crimson's first album.
Dyble didn't collaborate with the musicians for long, though, and soon she went her own way. Michael Giles, Robert Fripp, and Ian McDonald formed the nucleus of King Crimson, all three playing in the lineup featured on King Crimson's first album. Dyble did make another record, though, as part of the pleasant, if unremarkable, folk-rock duo Trader Horne, with ex-Them member Jackie McAuley. She sang, played autoharp, and piano, and wrote or co-wrote a couple of tracks on their sole album, 1970's Morning Way. Dyble left the recording scene after that, though she did appear in the 1990s at the Cropredy Festival, the annual folk festival that often features reunions of combinations of various Fairport Convention veterans.
In 2004, Dyble resurrected her long-dormant musical career with the release of her first solo album, Enchanted Garden, and considering how long she'd been out of the public eye, Dyble became quite prolific, releasing two albums in 2006, Spindle and Whorl, with Talking with Strangers following in 2009, Starcrazy in 2011, and Flow and Change in 2013. Dyble also appeared on collaborative projects with the Conspirators and King's Cross, and a concert album, Live at WMJazz, appeared in 2014. In 2015, Dyble offered a look back at her early career with the archival release Gathering the Threads (Fifty Years of Stuff). ~ Richie Unterberger