Steeleye Span

Steeleye Span was an English folk-rock band from London that debuted with an album on RCA Victor in 1970, followed by titles on Pegasus and B & C Records in 1971. Between 1972 and 1982, the band issued eight studio albums and two live discs on Chrysalis, plus a come-back album on the label in 1989. The subsequent two decades witnessed sporadic Steeleye releases on Park Records. The band evolved from a partnership between vocalist Maddy Prior and string-instrumentalist Tim Hart, who issued three albums as a duo between 1968 and 1971.

Members: Maddy Prior (banjo, vocals, tambourine, bells), Tim Hart (dulcimer, banjo, fiddle, guitar, harmonium, vocals, 1969-82), Ashley Hutchings (bass, vocals, 1969-71), Gay Woods (vocals, concertina, percussion, tambourine, 1969-70, 1995-2001), Terry Woods (guitar, mandolin, vocals, 1969-70), Peter Knight (organ, fiddle, mandolin, violin, guitar, keyboards, vocals, bells, 1970-77, 1980-2013), Martin Carthy (organ, banjo, guitar, vocals, bells, 1971-72, 1977-78), Bob Johnson (guitar, vocals, 1972-77, 1980-2002), Rick Kemp (bass, vocals, drums, 1972-86, 2000-present), Nigel Pegrum (synthesizer, flute, drums, oboe, tambourine, 1973-89), John Kirkpatrick (accordion, vocals, 1977-78)


Steeleye Span was formed in late 1969 by bassist/singer Ashley Hutchings, who co-founded Fairport Convention two years earlier. He left Fairport after they suffered a road accident that claimed the life of drummer Martin Lamble.

Wishing to explore a more trad sound, Hutchings teamed with the Irish husband/wife duo Terry and Gay Woods. Terry hailed from the folk trio Sweeney’s Men, which issued two albums on Transatlantic Records in 1968/69.

To round out the new band, Hutchings tried to recruit Terry’s ex-Sweeney’s colleagues Andy Irvine and Johnny Moynihan. When they declined, Hutchings sent the invite out to three different parties: brothers Robin and Barry Dransfield (later to record as Dransfield); husband/wife pair Bob and Carole Pegg (just prior to their two-album stint in Mr. Fox); and the folk duo of Tim Hart and Maddy Prior, who accepted. Hart and Prior had performed together since 1966 and released two albums, Folk Songs of Olde England Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 (both 1968).

The new band named itself Steeleye Span after the character in the folk traditional “Horkstow Grange.” To cut costs and bond as a musical unit, the five members shared the same house. Before long, tensions developed between the two duos. This lineup only lasted long enough for one album, Hark! The Village Wait, recorded in March 1970 and released that June on RCA Victor. 


Discography:

  • Hark! The Village Wait (1970)
  • Please to See the King (1971)
  • Ten Man Mop or Mr Reservoir Butler Rides Again (1971)
  • Below the Salt (1972)
  • Parcel of Rogues (1973)
  • Now We Are Six (1974)
  • Commoners Crown (1975)
  • All Around My Hat (1975)
  • Rocket Cottage (1976)
  • Storm Force Ten (1977)
  • Live at Last! (1978)
  • Sails of Silver (1980)
  • All Around My Hat (EP, 1982)
  • Back in Line (1986)
  • Tempted and Tried (1989)

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