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all you ever wanted to know about Adge Cutler & The Wurzels

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Adge CutlerAdge Cutler

Alan John Cutler was born in Portishead, North Somerset on 15th November 1930; one of three sons of Jack and Dorothy Cutler. Nicknamed 'Adge' by his friends, from his initials A.J., he was brought up and schooled in the nearby town of Nailsea, where a plaque stands in Grove Park Sports Centre in his honour. It was at the Village Institute in Nailsea that Adge made his first even public performance, at the age of seven - singing There'll Always Be A Nailsea; a song which sadly never made it onto the Wurzels albums! It is evident that even then that the roots of Scrumpy & Western music - a strong feeling of local pride tied with a wicked sense of humour - was already making itself known in the young Adge Cutler.

He left school in 1944 aged 14, and his first job was as a market gardener. He held a series of jobs including working in his father's coach hire and motorcycle business - a job which may have sparked his interested in vintage vehicles. Between 1949 and 1951 he served his National Service - which he spent in the army Pay Corp (although we have not idea where he was stationed).

After being demobb3ed, he held several jobs including working for various building firms - including a stint working on building a power station in North Wales. He also famously working in a Coates Somerset Cider Factory in Nailsea, where a cider vat was subsequently named in his honour; anyone wanting to see this vat should visit out Rich's Cider Farm in Highbridge, Somerset who bought the vat when Coates closed down - and of course, still use it for cider making!

During this time Adge was already writing and performing music. He dates 1958 as the year he wrote Drink Up Thy Cider, and played his first paid gig at The Cavern Club in Liverpool; well before The Beatles had played there!

In January 1961 he took a job as road manager for famous Somerset clarinet player Acker Bilk - a job which involved him driving Acker to and from concerts. It was during this time that he wrote many of his songs, singing them to entertain Acker - and keep him awake on those long drives across the country. During this time, he had met, and presumably got on well with John Miles whose company The John Miles Organisation was a well-known and respected booking agency based in Whiteladies Road in Clifton, Bristol with some 350 pop bands on their books.

In August 1964, he left Acker's employ and moved to Spain for a year working as an agent for a Bristol property firm. During his time there he grew to love the country and the Spanish way of life, as well as becoming fluent in Spanish - but by the summer of 1966 he was back in Britain penniless. Indeed on biography of Adge puts the years 1965-1966 as doing "nothing".

In June 1966, with little more than a fiver in his pocket and a collection of self-penned songs, Adge Cutler 'broke into' John Miles' office armed with demo tapes and an idea about creating a West Country band to compete with the weird psychedelic bands of the time. At the meeting, the idea of Adge Cutler & The Wurzels was conceived, with John Miles as manager - July 1966 is the date of the formation of The Wurzels. John would remain the band's manger until the late 1980s.

As a result of the meeting, a recording contract was negotiated with EMI and on 2nd November 1966 the band's debut album was recorded. As the sleeve notes recount:


And 2nd November, 1966, was a night of entertainment to remember in Nailsea. For a studio recording you can reckon on allowing thirty minutes or more until the audience warms up and you begin to feel atmosphere. For a Somerset pub recording it took thirty seconds. The audience were a cross-section of cider-quaffing Wurzel-lovers from every corner of Somerset; from Weston Zoyland to Monkton Combe. Nailsea's oldest inhabitant, wearing a top-hat for such a special occasion, was flanked by long-haired youths and mini-skirted girls.

At first the broadcasting men and journalists from rival stations and newspapers eyed each other somewhat coldly: the locals wondered if they should be on their Sunday-best behaviour with 'them thar record men from Lunnon in town'. By nine o'clock the journalists and television-men were clinking glasses like old friends as the TV cameras whirred; by 9:30 the locals were proving that not all the best voices are t'other side of the new Severn Bridge. At ten o'clock we sent out for fresh supplies of cider and beer and the landlord's wife was dancing a Highland fling with Adge; the cameramen complained that the room was too smokey for photographs - then lit up fresh cigarettes. At 10:30 the Wurzels did a third encore of "Drink U Thy Zider" and the Nailsea Mixed Voice Choir raised the rafters on the chorus.

On 2nd December 1966, Drink up Thy Zider was released as the band's debut single. It sold over 100,000 copies and reached #45 in the UK Singles Charts. On the back of that the Scrumpy & Western EP and the debut album Adge Cutler & The Wurzels were released, and the band were quickly embraced across the country with appearances on top national TV shows including prime-time chat shows hosted by the likes of David Frost and Simon Dee.

Adge is best known for this songwriting skills, especially his witty, slightly risque and always entertaining lyrics. Drawing from this own experiences - and often mentioning local characters in the songs (much to EMI's legal department's horror!) - he immortalised the towns and villages of Somerset: Nempnett Thrubwell, Stanton Drew and the Avonside village of Pill. While other songwriters were singing about love and drugs; Adge was singing about dung spreading and shotgun weddings; while the rest worried about world peace and atom bombs, Adge worried if the folks of Stanton Drew were ready for the Common Market!

The band went from strength to strength, and although subsequent albums and singles failed to repeat the chart success of Drink up Thy Zider, Adge Cutler & the Wurzels toured playing (and selling-out) top cabaret and music venues across the country.

In 1972, Adge married Yvonne, and they moved to a house on Tickenham Hill just outside the village of Tickenham, a few miles north of Nailsea.

His career was sadly cut short by his untimely death on Sunday 5th May 1974. Returning home from a successful week long residency at the Crystal Rooms in Hereford, Adge crashed and overturned his MGB sports car at Newbridge roundabout near Chepstow. He had been complaining about a cold during the week, and had decided to drive home to catch up on lost sleep. According to Pete Budd's interview in the Wurzels World book, Pete was originally enlisted to chauffeur Adge from Hereford and collect him the following day to take him to a meeting with the John Miles to talk over a television series and the fifth album. Plans were changed, and Adge drove himself on that fatal journey.

Adge Cutler is buried in Christchurch in Nailsea.

Wurzel Discography

Adge Cutler's performances also appeared on numerous compilation albums. See the Discography for the complete listing.

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