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).
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!
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.
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".
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.
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:
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.
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!
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.
1972, Adge married Yvonne, and they moved to a house on Tickenham
Hill just outside the village of Tickenham, a few miles north of
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.
Cutler's performances also appeared on numerous compilation albums.
See the Discography for the complete listing.
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