Obituary: Dr Marc Ellington, US-born folk singer who joined British Establishment

Dr Marc Ellington, DL, Baron of Towie Barclay. Born: December 16 1945 in Boston, Massachusetts, United States. Died: February 17 2021, aged 75

There’s a photo in the Great Hall in Towie Barclay Castle of two men sharing a real belly laugh –one is a bearded and pony-tailed former folk singer called Marc Ellington, the other is a kilted Duke of Rothesay, better known as HRH Prince Charles. The photo clearly shows two things – firstly, a quite genuine friendship between the two men, and secondly, the fact that Marc Ellington knew everybody.

He was quite shameless when it came to name-dropping, which could be a little disorientating, “Bob” could be a reference to the local doctor in Turriff or Dylan or Marley. He had genuinely played alongside a dazzling array of musical greats, fully half of whom had slept on the floor of his flat at some stage. His daughters Kirstie and Iona once found themselves on a family holiday in Mustique having a singsong with a slim, pale man with mismatched eyes who, according to them, “wasn’t very good”. Thankfully nobody relayed that back to David Bowie.

The Ellington family home, Towie Barclay Castle, near Turriff in Aberdeenshire, is a stunning 16th-century tower house that Marc and wife Karen, an award-winning landscaper and garden designer, bought as a ruin in the late 1960s for a few thousand pounds, then spent years painstakingly rebuilding. The project was funded entirely through Marc’s musical career and kept on track by Karen’s rigorous attention to detail. Their outstanding restoration was given a Saltire Award in 1973.

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