Fred Weatherly tells in his memoirs how he wrote the lyric of this song for Michael Maybrick, alias Stephen Adams, whose ‘The Holy City’ is included in the first of Thomas Allen’s ballad collections. Weatherly says he designed it as ‘a real heart to heart talk between us’. For once the businesslike Maybrick did not acknowledge its receipt, and when he died shortly afterwards Weatherly felt the lyric had touched his friend too deeply to even speak of it. Instead the song was set by Wilfrid Sanderson and dedicated to Maybrick. The son of a Wesleyan minister and father of an Anglican bishop, Wilfrid Ernest Sanderson was born in Ipswich of Lancastrian parents, moved to Launceston in Cornwall as an infant, was educated in London, and died in Surrey. He spent much of his career as organist, choirmaster and composer in Doncaster, producing some wonderful ballads, of which ‘Friend o’ Mine’ is one of the most stirring.
from notes by Andrew Lamb © 2003