Born Richard Peter Gaughan on 17th May 1948, Dick Gaughan is a Scottish musician, singer, and songwriter, who has been openly committed to the Communist cause.
Although he was born in Glasgow’s Rottenrow Maternity Hospital when his father was working in the city as an engine driver, Gaughan is more identified with the orbit of Edinburgh. He spent only the first one and a half years of his life in Rutherglen, South Lanarkshire, a suburb of Glasgow, after which the whole family moved to Leith, a port on the outskirts of Edinburgh.
Gaughan’s mother was a Macdonald from Lochaber, a native speaker of Gaelic. As a child in the 1930s she won a silver medal at the Gaelic Mod. His father was born in Leith, and his paternal grandfather was an Irish speaker from Mayo, who played the fiddle. The three children, of whom Dick Gaughan was the eldest, grew up surrounded by the music of both Scotland and Ireland. The family experienced considerable poverty, which had a very strong influence on his subsequent political views.
Young Dick took up the guitar at the age of seven. Although he later sang in Scottish Gaelic he is not fluent in that language; however, he has a powerful command of Scots. He sang in Edinburgh folk clubs and became a professional musician in 1970, writing his own songs as well as performing those of others.