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The Wurzels
Origin England
Genres Scrumpy and Western
Years active 1966-present
Website thewurzels.com
Members
Tommy Banner
Pete Budd
John Morgan
Sedge Moore

The Wurzels (originally Adge Cutler and the Wurzels but renamed The Wurzels after Adge Cutler's death) are a British Scrumpy and Western band. This Somerset based band is best known by many people for its 1976 number one hit "The Combine Harvester", but has a history stretching over 40 years, and still performs to this day.

Contents

Name

The name of the band was dreamt up by the band's founder Adge Cutler. It appears to be short for mangelwurzel, a crop grown to feed livestock, and 'wurzel' is also sometimes used in the UK (perhaps only as a result of the band's name) as a synonym for 'yokel'.

The Wurzel's particular "genre" of music was named Scrumpy and Western after the group's first EP of the same name, issued early in 1967. Scrumpy is a name given to traditional Somerset cider, popular amongst The Wurzels and their fans, and frequently referred to in their songs.

History

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Adge Cutler and The Wurzels

Adge Cutler (sitting) on the front cover of his Scrumpy & Western EP

The Wurzels were formed in 1966 as a backing group for, and by, singer/songwriter Adge Cutler.

With a thick Somerset accent, Adge played on his West Country roots, singing many folk songs with local themes such as cider making (and drinking), farming, dung-spreading, local villages and industrial work songs, often with a comic slant.

During the latter half of the 1960s, the band became immensely popular regionally, and the release of the single Drink Up Thy Zider in 1966 led to national fame and it reaching #45 in the UK charts, despite the B-side Twice Daily being banned by the BBC for being too raunchy. This was because it told the story of a farm labourer who begins a physical relationship with a female co-worker called 'Lucy Bailey'.

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 Nailsea.

The Wurzels

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, Cheddar cheese, etc.)

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 had been a hit for the George Baker Selection and also covered by Jonathan King the 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 signed to Cumbria record label Loose Records, and recorded four new new songs including the single "I Wanna Be An Eddie Stobart Driver" (released as a limited edition lorry-shaped disc) which hit the lower end of the national singles charts. 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 The Stranglers manager 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 Wurzels covered BSP's Remember Me while BSP covered The Wurzels' I Am A Cider Drinker. The band also supported BSP at their gig at the London Forum in November.

In 2004, The Wurzels appeared on Never Mind The Buzzcocks in that year's Christmas special, performing Christmas songs to Bill Bailey's team. (Bailey is a Wurzels fan and stood and saluted upon hearing Combine Harvester, later claiming that he had the tune on his doorbell at home!)

In 2007, The Wurzels and Tony Blackburn re-released I Am A Cider Drinker with the royalties from the song going to the BUI Prostate Cancer Care Appeal in Bristol.

The Wurzels continue to gig around the UK,[1] 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[2], 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, and made a triumphant return to Glastonbury in 2008 (on a higher profile stage!).

The Wurzels are also very popular with supporters of Bristol City. 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 Gate if the home club win and it is sung by fans along with another Wurzel song "I am a cider drinker". The song has also been adopted by Bath City who, like Bristol City, play the track after home victories.

The band continue to spread the message of wurzelmania across the country and at the time of writing (December 2009) have just released a new single, available by internet download only, entitled 'Ode To Adge' - a tribute to the band's founder, Adge Cutler.

Current members

Tommy Banner is 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 accent remains but with a strong Somerset twang!

Pete Budd is the familiar front-man of the post-Cutler band, Pete Budd originally joined the Wurzels as a banjo player 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.

John Morgan is the oldest drummer in the land according to fellow band members hailing from the Forest of Dean - prefers hot cocoa to cider and during 'live' gigs the claim is made that he is 79 years of age.

Sedge Moore, 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.

Past members

Over the years many Wurzels have come and gone since Adge Cutler first formed the group to accompany him in singing his scrumpy laden ditties.

The original Wurzels line-up to accompany Adge recorded their first album (“Adge Cutler and the Wurzels”) in 1966 and consisted of Brian Walker, Reg Quantrill, John Macey and Reg Chant.

Brian Walker left in 1967, soon after the band’s first album was released. Their next offering “Adge Cutler and the Wurzels’ Family Album”, was recorded with the remaining members – Reg Quantrill, John Macey and Reg Chant.

1967 saw a year of several changes – Reg Chant left the group, soon followed by John Macey. But their places were quickly filled by Henry Davies and Tommy Banner.

The group’s third album “Cutler of the West’ was released in 1968 with a featuring Adge Cutler, Henry Davies, Tommy Banner and Reg Quantrill. Shortly afterwards they were joined by Melt Kingston for a short period whilst Henry Davies went to work on other projects. Melt left when Henry returned at the end of the year.

Early in 1969, Henry Davies left the group permanently and was replaced by Tony Baylis, just in time for the band’s fourth album release “Carry On Cutler”, the line-up now being Adge Cutler, Tommy Banner, Tony Baylis and Reg Quantrill.

By 1974, Reg Quantrill had been replaced by Pete Budd (born Peter Budd, 18 July 1940, in Brislington, Bristol), but following the death of Adge Cutler the Wurzels were left to continue on their own – the future chart topping trio consisting of Tommy Banner, Pete Budd and Tony Baylis.

The Wurzels obtained their first permanent drummer, John Morgan (born 21 April 1941, in Lydney, Forest of Dean), in 1981 and the line-up then remained unchanged until Tony Baylis left in 1983. Just before he left Jai Howe played with the group for a short period, with Terry Pascoe also augmenting the line-up.

Early in 1984, Jai Howe and Terry Pascoe left the band and were replaced by Mike Gwilliam. For the next nine years ‘The Wurzels’ consisted of Pete Budd, Tommy Banner, John Morgan and Mike Gwilliam.

In 1995 Mike Gwilliam left and was replaced by Dave Wintour. This remained the shape of the band until 2002 when Dave was replaced by Jai Howe (who had played with the band in the early 1980s).

A temporary change in line-up occurred in November 2005 when long-term Wurzel Tommy Banner had to step away from performing whilst undergoing treatment for prostate cancer. His place was bravely and ably taken on taken by the band’s production and sound engineer Louie Nicastro until Tommy’s health was restored and he was able to return to the fold in the spring of 2006.

The sad death of Jai Howe in 2007 left the band one man down - this led to Sedge Moore being recruited to give us the current ‘farmyard four’ line-up of Pete Budd, Tommy Banner, John Morgan and Sedge Moore.

Singles Discography

Adge Cutler & The Wurzels - UK Singles

Drink Up Thy Zider / Twice Daily 1966 Columbia DB8081 7” vinyl

‘Scrumpy And Western’ (EP) 1967 Columbia  SEG8525 7” vinyl

Champion Dung Spreader / When The Common Market Comes To Stanton Drew 1967 Columbia DB8145 7” vinyl

I Wish I Was Back On The Farm / Easton-In-Gordano 1967 Columbia DB8222 7” vinyl

All Over Mendip / My Threshing Machine 1967 Columbia DB8277 7” vinyl

Don't Tell I, Tell 'Ee / Faggots Is The Stuff 1968 Columbia DB8399 7” vinyl

Up The Clump / Aloha Severn Beach 1968 Columbia DB8462 7” vinyl

Ferry To Glastonbury / Saturday Night At The Crown 1969 Columbia DB8614 7” vinyl

Poor, Poor Farmer / Chitterling 1971 Columbia DB8793 7” vinyl

Little Darlin' / Mother Nature Calling 1972 CBS8067 7” vinyl

Drink Up Thy Zider / Twice Daily (reissue) 1974 Columbia DB9031 7” vinyl

Little Darlin' / Mother Nature Calling (reissue) 1974 Santa Ponsa PNS20 7” vinyl

The Wurzels - UK Singles

Captain Of The Dredger (Acetate - only one copy known to exist) 1975 EMI 7” acetate (Remains officially unreleased)

The Combine Harvester / The Blackbird 1976 EMI EMI2450 7” vinyl

I Am A Cider Drinker / Back Of My Old Car 1976 EMI EMI2520 7” vinyl

Morning Glory / Rock Around The A38 1976 EMI EMI2568 7” vinyl

Farmer Bill's Cowman / Springtime 1977 EMI EMI2637 7” vinyl

Give Me England / Speedy Gonzales 1977 EMI EMI2677 7” vinyl

One For The Bristol City / Cheddar Cheese 1977 EMI EMI2686 7” vinyl

The Tractor Song / Funky Farmyard 1978 EMI EMI2792 7” vinyl

I'll Never Get A Scrumpy Here / I Got My Beady Little Eye On Thee (Demo Only) 1978 Columbia DB9051 7” vinyl - remains officially unreleased

You Don't Get Drunk On Saturday / Don Juan Of The West(Demo Only) 1980 Columbia DB9076 7” vinyl - remains officially unreleased

Combine Harvester / I Am A Cider Drinker 1980 HMV POP20177” vinyl

I Hate JR / I Love JR 1980 John Miles JM1001 7” vinyl

I Shot JR / Albert's Funny Farm 1980 John Miles JM1003 7” vinyl

If You Got Nothin' On Tonight / Little Drop Of Home Made Wine 1980 John Miles JM1004 7” vinyl

Coughin' Song / Shovel It Here 1982 John Miles JM1009 7” vinyl

Wurzel Rap / Wurzels In Stereo 1983 Goldliner RAP1 7” vinyl

All Fall Down / My Somerset Crumpet Horn 1986 Dingles SID238 7” vinyl

Sunny Weston-Super-Mare / Sunny Weston-Super-Mare (Instrumental) 1988 Far End FNS2 7” vinyl

I Want To Be An Eddie Stobart Driver (EP) 1995 LOOSE Records 7” vinyl

The Combine Harvester 2001 Remix (EP) 2001 EMI Gold    243 8 79448 2 4CD

Come On Santa! (EP) 2001 Recognition/Universal     CDREC22 CD

Don't Look Back In Anger (EP) 2002 EMI Gold      7243 5 51508 2 0 CD

Make Hay Not War (Demo only) 2003 CD - remains officially unreleased

Ferry To Glastonbury (EP)(Promo only) 2004 Cruisin Records CD - remains officially unreleased

Feed The Wurzels: Bristolian Band Aid The Wurzels with Bush & Troy 2004 Bristol GWR FM CD

Peter Crouch In Lederhosen/Bush & Troy vs The Wurzels 2006 Bristol GWR FM CD

Remember Me / I Am A Cider Drinker (British Sea Power) 2006 Rough Trade RTRADS302 7” vinyl (limited to 1966 copies)

Remember Me / I Am A Cider Drinker (British Sea Power) 2006 Rough Trade RecordsCD (Promo copy only)

I Am A Cider Drinker (with Tony Blackburn) / Ferry To Glastonbury 2007 EMI Gold  0946 3 92653 2 9 7” vinyl (yellow)

I Am A Cider Drinker (with Tony Blackburn) / Combine Harvester 2007 EMI Gold  0946 3 92653 2 9 CD

One For The Bristol City / Drink Up Thy Zider (live) 2007 Absolute CIA004CD

Ode To Adge 2009 Internet Download only

Albums Discography

Adge Cutler & The Wurzels - UK Albums

Adge Cutler & The Wurzels 1967 Columbia SX6126 (mono) 12" Vinyl 1974 Columbia SX6126 (stereo) 12" Vinyl

Adge Cutler & The Wurzels Family Album 1967 Columbia SX6165 (mono) 12" Vinyl 1974 Columbia SCX6165 (stereo) 12" Vinyl

Cutler Of The West 1968 Columbia SX6263 (mono) 12" Vinyl 1974 Columbia SCX6263 (stereo) 12" Vinyl 2003 EMI Gold 584 8072 CD

Carry On Cutler 1969 Columbia SX6367 (mono) 12" Vinyl 1969 Columbia SCX6367 (stereo) 12" Vinyl

Don't Tell I, Tell 'Ee 1974 EMI Starline SRS5119 12" Vinyl

The Very Best of Adge Cutler 1974 EMI EMC3191 12" Vinyl

Dont Tell I, Tell 'Ee 1978 Encore ONCR502 12" Vinyl

Adge Cutler's Cider Drinking Favourites 1980 EMI Notes NTS199 12" Vinyl

Vintage Cider 1980 EMI MFP50476 12" Vinyl

The Wurzels - UK Albums

The Wurzels Are Scrumptious 975 EMI One Up OU2087 12" Vinyl

The Combine Harvester 1976 EMI One Up OU2138 12" Vinyl

Golden Delicious 1977 EMI Notes NTS122 12" Vinyl

Give Me England 1977 EMI Notes NTS138 12" Vinyl

I'll Never Get A Scrumpy Here 1978 EMI Notes NTS160 12" Vinyl

The Wurzels Greatest Hits 1979 EMI Notes NTS190 12" Vinyl

I Am A Cider Drinker 1979 EMI Encore ONCR523 12" Vinyl

The Wurzels Freshly Cut 1983 Wurzel Records WR854675 12" Vinyl

The Wurzels 1988 EMI IDEAL IDL22 CD

The Wurzels AND Adge Cutler & The Wurzels 1991 EMI IDEAL IDL114 CD

Mendip Magic 'Live' 1995 AFS Television Cassette Tape

The Finest 'Arvest Of The Wurzels 2000 EMI Gold 5 27046 2 CD

The Wurzels Collection 2001 HMV Easy 5 32071 2 CD

The Finest 'Arvest Of The Wurzels 2001 EMI Gold 5 34401 2 CD

The Wurzels Live 2002 APR Media Centre 0700010230 CD

Never Mind The Bullocks 2002 Cruisin' ZEN 00262 CD

A Taste Of The West 2004 CIA 001 CD

Top Of The Crops 2006 CIA 002 CD

The Wurzels Greatest Hits 2007 EMI Gold 3 93902 2 CD

References in popular culture

The West Country-born stand-up comedian Bill Bailey occasionally references The Wurzels in his routines. In his Bewilderness show he mentions knowing them "when they were a German techno band, 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". Castmembers sung "Combine Harvester" at the beginning of episode 2.4 of Ashes to Ashes, set in 1982.

See also

References

External links


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