- The Wurzels
Infobox musical artist |
Name = The Wurzels
Img_capt = The Wurzels 2008.
Img_size = 2oo px
Landscape = yes
Background = group_or_band
Scrumpy and Western
Years_active = 1966-present
URL = [http://www.wurzelworld.com/ wurzelworld.com]
Current_members = Tommy Banner, Pete Budd, John Morgan, Sedge Moore
This Somerset based band is best known for its 1976 number one hit "The Combine Harvester", but has a history stretching over 40 years, and still performs to this day.
The name of the band was dreamt up by the band's founder Adge Cutler and came from the fodder beet
Mangelwurzel. As can be determined from the subject matter of many of their songs, cider is very popular amongst Wurzels and their fans. Their particular "genre" of music has been named "Scrumpy And Western" after the group's first EP of the same name, issued early in 1967. ( Scrumpyis a name given to traditional Somerset cider).
Adge Cutler and The Wurzels
The Wurzels were formed in 1966 as a backing group for and by singer/songwriter
With a thick Somerset accent, Adge played on his
West Countryroots, singing many folk songs with local themes such as cidermaking (and drinking), farming, dung-spreading, local villages and industrial work songs, often with a comic slant.
During the 1960s, the band became immensely popular regionally, and the release of the single "Drink Up Thy Zider" led to national fame and number 45 in the UK charts.
A number of live albums were recorded at local pubs and clubs, filled with Adge Cutler penned favourites such as "
Easton in Gordano", "The Champion Dung Spreader", and "Thee's Got'n Where Thee Cassn't Back'n, Hassn't?" together with songs written by others and some reworkings of popular folk songs of the time.
Adge Cutler died after falling asleep at the wheel of his sports car which then overturned on a roundabout approaching the Severn Bridge. He was returning alone from a Wurzels show in Hereford in May 1974. He is buried in
Adge's death marked a turning point in the history of the Wurzels. Deprived of the main song-writing talent, the remaining Wurzels recorded "The Wurzels Are Scrumptious!" in 1975, an album containing many favourites from the back catalogue, including a number of previously unrecorded Cutler-written songs
In order to continue the surviving band needed its own songs, and these mostly took the formula of re-written popular pop songs of the time with the lyrics changed to include the usual Wurzel themes (cider, farming, local villages,
In 1976, the Wurzels released "The Combine Harvester", a re-work of the song "
Brand New Key", by Melanie, which became a UK hit, topping the charts for 2 weeks.
The band quickly followed its success with the release of a number of similarly-themed songs such as "I Am A Cider Drinker" (a rework of an existing melody--"Una Paloma Blanca" - which was written by and been a hit for the
George Baker Selectionand also covered by Jonathan Kingthe year before) and "Farmer Bill's Cowman".
The Wurzels have never stopped performing, but record releases during the 1980s and 1990s were few - and included singles like "I Hate JR" and "Sunny
Weston-super-Mare". To help celebrate the 25th Anniversary of Eddie Stobart Ltd in 1995, the group recorded a new song "I wanna be an Eddie Stobart Driver". It graced the UK Top 100. The original, together with a spoof called "I wanna join the Eddie Stobart fan club", are still available for download via iTunes. This latter single from Loose Records.com appeared also as a limited edition lorry shaped disc. The interest in this record sparked off renewed interest in The Wurzels.
The late 1990s saw the continuing of this revival of the fortunes for the surviving Wurzels, gaining a cult status amongst students and a resurgence in their popularity in their native West Country Under the new management of
Stranglersmanager Sil Willcox a number of CD releases followed, largely featuring re-recordings of older works, but also "Never Mind The Bullocks", an album of cover versions of contemporary British rock songs. This album was recorded and produced by Louie Nicastro and George Allen manager of The Mission. In 2005, the band released a limited edition split single with British Sea Power. The Wurzel's covered BSP's "Remember Me" while BSP covered "I Am A Cider Drinker". The band also supported BSP at their gig at the London Forum in November.
In 2007 The Wurzels and
Tony Blackburnre-released "I Am A Cider Drinker" with the royalties from the song going to the BUI Prostate CancerCare Appeal in Bristol.
The Wurzels continue to gig around the UK, [ [http://www.bbc.co.uk/somerset/content/articles/2006/06/19/wurzels_big_summer_party_review_feature.shtml BBC - Somerset - Entertainment and Leisure - Review: The Wurzels' Big Summer Party ] ] including playing at the Shalbourne Festival for nearly 11 years, although they pulled out of the 2007
Glastonbury Festival, having been scheduled to play the bandstand stage where they could not use their own sound engineers [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/somerset/6761101.stm "Wurzels pull out of Glastonbury] BBCNews, 17 June 2007] , although they had played the same stage at the 2000 Glastonbury Festival. They were also one of the headliners at the 2007 Bristol Community Festival. Bristol City
The Wurzels are also still very popular in the west country, especially with supporters of
Bristol Citywho the band also support. Their song "One For The Bristol City" is the official club anthem. First released in 1976, a newly-recorded version of this song reached number 66 in the UK charts in September 2007. However, most fans recognise another Wurzel song "Drink Up Thy Zider" as their anthem. It is played at the final whistle at Ashton Gateif the home club win and it is sung by fans along with another Wurzel song "I am a cider drinker". The band's shows these days are not limited to the West Country, with appearances being made across the UK throughout the year.
Current Band Members
The longest serving Wurzel, Tommy joined the band in November 1967, and is still going strong. He is usually seen playing accordion, but has also played piano in the Wurzels' past. Hailing from
Penicuik, his Scottish accentremains but with a strong Somerset twang!
The familiar front-man of the post-Cutler band, Pete Budd originally joined the Wurzels as a
banjoplayer in 1972, and his distinctive West Country vocals made him an obvious replacement lead singer after Adge's death. He continues to sing, and play banjo and guitar for the band, including in his repertoire a Mark Knopfler-esque guitar lead on their modern version of "I Wish I Was Back On The Farm", originally made famous by George Formby.
The oldest drummer in the land according to fellow band members hailing from the Forest of Dean - prefers hot cocoa to cider!
Sedge, born and bred in Somerset, is the newest member of the band. A skilful bass player, his cheerful, happy style is perfectly suited to the band, who refer to him as the "Young 'Un".
References in popular culture
The West Country-born stand-up comedian
Bill Baileyoccasionally references The Wurzels in his routines. In his " Bewilderness" show he mentions knowing them "when they were a German technoband, Die Würtzels - and then they sold out, went all oo-arr country", as well as performing a pastiche of "Combine Harvester" in the style of Chris de Burgh. In an appearance on BBC2's " Never Mind The Buzzcocks", Bailey stood and saluted a playing of the intro to "Combine Harvester".
Portisheadlist The Wurzels as an influence on their MySpace site - as the only influence, in fact. [http://www.myspace.com/PORTISHEADALBUM3 - Retrieved on 2008-04-22]
Scrumpy and Western
British popular music
West Country dialects
* [http://www.wurzelworld.com/ wurzelworld - The "Official" Wurzels Website] - everything you want to know about the band!
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