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and Western - Start of a Legend
by Zider Ed
whole world knows about the phenomenon which swept the planet in
the early 1960s, when a group of mop-topped, trendily-suited and
smartly-shod young Merseyside lads got together to play their own
brand of music, stormed up the world's charts and changed the face
of popular music forever. The story of what happened to those four
lads has passed into legend and is, in all probability, well documented
a little less well known - at least, outside the West of England
- but every bit as fascinating, is the story of a bunch of haystack-headed,
cider-soaked and dung-booted, not-quite-so-young Avonside lads who
started a style of music and humour which turned out to be just
as big (at least in Zummerzet!) and much longer lasting...Wurzelmania!
story of how Adge Cutler - also known as the Bard of Avonmouth-
now legendary as the finest poet in Zummerzet's history, approached
agent and manager John Miles in June 1966 "stoney broke but for
some songs he had written", and how the idea of Adge Cutler &
The Wurzels was born at that historic meeting, has passed into North
Somerset folklore. This page continues the story of the Farmyard
Four from the beet group of those early days, through the heady
days of Cyderdelia and the so-called Summer of Scrumpy,
right up to the present time... well, up to last Saturday anyway.
It Rolling, Bob?" - The Bard of Avonmouth Takes Centre Stage
did EMI record producer Bob
Barratt know what he was starting all those years ago on the
historic day of 2nd November 1966 when, clutching a pint of finest
rough cider, he groped his way carefully through the smoke-filled
atmosphere and clambered up onto the straw-strewn stage in front
of the assembled crowd of cider drinkers and bemused farm animals
at the Royal Oak pub, Nailsea, in the English county of Somerset,
and uttered the slurred but immortal words: "Ladies and Gentlemen,
Present Cider Mugs, for the Pride of Priddy...ADGE CUTLER AND THE
the applause died down, the atmosphere was acoustic and charged
with scrumpy fumes as Adge took the microphone, pronounced the now
legendary words "Is it rolling, Bob?" and launched into
the first number - a number which was to change the face of popular
music in North Zummerzet forever - Twice Daily.
As he sweated, grunted and gyrated as only a hardened cider drinker
can, with the simple but effective accompaniment of his ace guitarist
Reg "Snake 'ips" Quantrill and double bass player John Macey, the
assembled audience realised that here was something special and
that they were in the presence of a historic event. For this was
the birth of a new sound unlike anything heard before - a sound
that was to become known as Scrumpy and Western music.
'n' Western Takes Somerset By Storm
of the latest phenomenon spread like a fire in a hayloft, and such
was the reaction and the local demand to hear the revolutionary
new style of music that EMI rush-released a double 'A' sided single
Twice Daily / Drink Up Thy
Zider. It immediately shot to the top of the charts
in Bristol and Somerset, and soon afterwards reached number 45 in
the UK national charts, in a rare UK occurrence of a "regional breakout",
a phenomenon hitherto only known in the USA. If success for the
record was only a matter of time, it was guaranteed when the prim
'Auntie' BBC of the 1960s decided unilaterally that the words of
Twice Daily would offend the sensitive ears of their listeners.
However, the BBC's Light Programme was inundated with requests for
Drink Up Thy Zider on such programmes as Two Way Family
Favourites, Housewives' Choice, Children's Favourites, Workers'
Playtime, Womens' Hour, Listen With Mother and even Gardeners' Question
Time, forcing them to give the track enough airplay to push the
record into the "hit parade" (as the charts of the day were known).
This was in spite of the BBC 'gramophone recording announcers' (DJs)
being ordered on pain of dismissal to only play the record from
the waist up.
the heady early days as the Farmyard Four, with the West Country
in the grip of the Wurzelmania phenomenon, through the Summer of
Scrumpy and its attendant Cyderdelic sounds of the late 1960s, up
to the present day as the grand old masters of Scrumpy and Western,
this page pays homage to those men without whom West Country cider
drinkers would be destined forever to sing The Blaydon Races,
I Belong To Glasgow and Maybe It's Because I'm A Londoner.
is their story. Well, some of it, anyhow.
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