Mick Softley

Mick Softley (Sept. 26, 1939 — Sept. 1, 2017) was an English folk guitarist–singer who first appeared with the 1965 Columbia album Songs for Swingin’ Survivors. He reemerged as a CBS singer–songwriter with the 1970–72 albums Sunrise, Street Singer, and Any Mother Doesn’t Grumble. On self-press Doll Records, he made the 1976–78 albums Capitol and Mensa.

He was born Michael Softley on September 26, 1939, in South Woodford to an Irish mother and English father. He grew up in Essex near Epping Forest, where he took up trombone and practiced trad jazz. As a teenager, he got into blues via Big Bill Broonzy and started singing. He bought his first guitar in a mail-order catalog and taught himself to play with a book tutorial.

In 1959, Softley embarked on a motorbike trek around Europe, where he busked for a time in Paris with fellow up-and-comers Clive Palmer and Wizz Jones. Upon his return to England, he started a folk club at The Spinning Wheel in Hemel Hempstead. After one year in business, police shut it down due to safety concerns over its layout (one small basement room with a single, narrow exit).

Some time later, he got a residency at The Cock, a St Albans beatnik haunt attended by numerous folkies, including Donovan, who Softley tutored on guitar. When Donovan got signed, he told record company execs about Softley.

Softly issued his debut single, the original “I’m So Confused” (b/w “She’s My Girl”), in 1965 on Andrew Loog Oldham’s Immediate Records. It was produced by Donovan manager Peter Eden, who wrote the b-side.


  • Songs for Swingin’ Survivors (1965)
  • Sunrise (1970)
  • Street Singer (1971)
  • Any Mother Doesn’t Grumble (1972)
  • Capital (1976)
  • Mensa (1978)


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