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The Wurzels

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The Wurzels
Tommy Banner and Pete Budd performing at the 2011 Wychwood Festival
Tommy Banner and Pete Budd performing at the 2011 Wychwood Festival
Background information
GenresScrumpy and Western
Years active1966–present
MembersTommy Banner
Pete Budd
John Morgan
Sedge Moore

The Wurzels (originally Adge Cutler and the Wurzels but renamed after Cutler's death) are a British Scrumpy and Western band.

The Somerset-based band is best known for their 1976 number one hit Combine Harvester,[1] and number three hit I Am A Cider Drinker based on the song Una Paloma Blanca. They have lasted over 40 years, and still perform to this day.

Name[change | change source]

The name of the band was dreamt up by the band's founder Adge Cutler. It appears to be short for mangelwurzel, a type of beetroot grown to feed livestock.[2]

The Wurzels' particular genre of music was called Scrumpy and Western after the group's first EP of the same name, issued early in 1967. Scrumpy is slang for the potent cider made in southwest England,[3] popular amongst The Wurzels and their fans, and often referred to in their songs.

History[change | change source]

Adge Cutler and The Wurzels[change | change source]

The Wurzels were formed in 1966 as a backing group for singer/songwriter Adge Cutler.[4][5] 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 number 45 in the UK chart.[6] The B-side Twice Daily was banned by the BBC for being too raunchy.[7] A number of live albums were recorded at local pubs and clubs.[8]

Adge Cutler died after falling asleep at the wheel of his MG sports car which 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.[9]

The Wurzels[change | change source]

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.[1] The band quickly followed its success with I Am A Cider Drinker (a rework of the Una Paloma Blanca melody), which got to number three in the charts,[10] and Farmer Bill's Cowman (a reworking of the Whistling Jack Smith instrumental I Was Kaiser Bill's Batman).

The Wurzels at Guilfest 2012

The Wurzels have never stopped performing. The group signed to Cumbria record label Loose Records & Music, and recorded four new new songs including the single I Wanna Be An Eddie Stobart Driver (released as a limited edition lorry-shaped disc).[11]

The late 1990s saw the fortunes of the surviving Wurzels revive, gaining cult status among students and a resurgence 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. Never Mind The Bullocks, Ere's The Wurzels had covers of British rock songs.[12] The album title and cover were a spoof on Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols.

Their latest album is A Load More Bullocks (2010) for the CIA label.

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 "1000 number ones: The Seventies". Music Week. 17 January 2005.
  2. "The Mangledwurzels". BBC. Retrieved 15 November 2011.
  3. Soanes, Catherine (2005). The Oxford Dictionary of English (revised edition). Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-861057-2.
  4. "The Wurzels". BBC. Retrieved 15 November 2011.
  5. "Adge Cutler & The Wurzels". Scrumpy & Western. Archived from the original on 17 August 2011. Retrieved 15 November 2011.
  6. "Drink Up Thy Zider". Chart Stats. Archived from the original on 23 July 2012. Retrieved 15 November 2011.
  7. ""Drink Up Thy Zider" - Adge Cutler & The Wurzels". The Wurzels. Retrieved 15 November 2011.
  8. "The Wurzels". iTunes. Retrieved 15 November 2011.
  9. "Fan pays tribute to Wurzel Adge". BBC. 2005. Archived from the original on 10 September 2012. Retrieved 28 March 2010.
  10. "He's the star man". Western Daily Press. This is Bristol. 27 December 2008. Retrieved 18 August 2009.
  11. "The Wurzels". Crucial Hosting. Archived from the original on 11 October 2009. Retrieved 28 March 2010.
  12. Tyzack, Anna (20 August 2008). "Ooh-arr goes all ooh-la la". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 2 March 2009. Retrieved 28 March 2010.