History of Steeleye Span Line-Ups

The History of Steeleye Line Ups

Right from the start Steeleye have always had a history of changing line ups, it just became part of the bands identity. 
To quote Martin Carthy way back in 1970: 
"Steeleye's music depends on who's in it. It's completely different now"


With well over 20 different line ups and 30+ members all across 50 years then this can be a complicated area! In my view there have been 9 distinct Steeleye Bands/Era's, ones that have toured and released material. They are listed below, incorporating the transitional/temporary members in a way that tries to make sense of the large number of changes over the years! Detailed information on how the changes happened and why people left etc are on the relevant time-line pages.

Maddy Prior – vocals (1969-1997; 2002-now)
Tim Hart – guitars,Dulcimer,vocals (1969-1982)
Ashley Hutchings – bass (1969-1971)
Gay Woods – vocals (1969-1970; 1994-2001)
Terry Woods – guitars, concertina (1969-1970)

Album: 'Hark! the Village Wait'

Maddy Prior
Tim Hart
Ashley Hutchings
+ Peter Knight – strings, keyboards, vocals (1970-1977; 1980-2013)
+ Martin Carthy – guitars, vocals (1969-1971; 1977-1978)

Albums: 'Please to see the King'; 'Ten Man Mop or Mr Reservoir Butler Rides again'

Where it all began. But it didn't start smoothly as the initial line up recorded one album but never played live. With Peter Knight and Martin Carthy joining to replace the Woods, the overall identity of the band remained the same, still led by Ashley's initial purpose - the electrification of traditional British folk songs. With a fiddle player on board and no drums, inevitably the sound did change slightly and this 2nd line-up recorded two albums which became Electric-Folk standards, generating a fair bit of interest in the Music Press and featured in a large number of BBC sessions. They were supported by John Peel who featured the line up often. The line-up is often referred to the 'Carthy years' due to the big influence of Martin who was an already established and highly regarded Folk artist.

Maddy Prior – vocals (1969-1997; 2002-now)
Peter Knight – strings, keyboards, vocals (1970-1977; 1980-2013)
Tim Hart – guitars, vocals (1969-1982). Not '83-87
Bob Johnson – guitars, vocals (1972-1977; 1980-2002)
Rick Kemp – bass, vocals (1972-1987; 2001-2016)
+Nigel Pegrum from 1973– drums, percussion (1973-1989)

Below the Salt; Parcel of Rogues; Now We are Six; Commoners Crown; All Around My Hat; Rocket Cottage; Sails of Silver; Back In Line.

Considered the 'Classic' Line up because they created the signature Steeleye 'folk-rock' sound with big-ballads, a progressive sound, more emphasis on the Rock than the previous 'Electric Folk' line ups and led the band to commercial success. Rock musicians Rick Kemp and Bob Johnson took over from founder Ashley Hutchings and Martin Carthy respectively. Nigel joined on 'Now We are Six' to beef up the sound as they started to tour big concert venues. This line up toured America and Europe, made front pages of the Music Press, had their own TV series, charted with Singles and Albums and created the legacy that remains today.

After Peter and Bob left in 1977 the 'classic' line up got back together in 1980 at the request of Chrysalis and ended with Rick Kemp's leaving in 1987 & Nigel shortly after. Tim Hart had left in 1983 but was not replaced.

Maddy Prior – vocals (1969-1997; 2002-now)
Tim Hart – guitars, vocals (1969-1982)
Martin Carthy – guitars, vocals (1969-1971; 1977-1978)
Rick Kemp – bass, vocals (1972-1987; 2001-2016)
Nigel Pegrum from 1973– drums, percussion (1973-1989)
John Kirkpatrick - Accordion (1977-1978)

Storm Force 10; Live At Last

Carthy Returns! were the headlines. After Bob and Peter left in '77, (following a 6 month break for the band), Martin returned alongside Accordion player John Kirkpatrick - whom Carthy had wanted to join back in '71. The line up was brought together to finish the bands obligations to Chrysalis, it was never meant to be permanent. The sound of the band changed and became less Rock oriented, but two great albums were released and a big final 'farewell' tour in 1978 took place.

Maddy Prior – vocals (1969-1997; 2002-now)
Peter Knight – strings, keyboards, vocals (1970-1977; 1980-2013)
Bob Johnson – guitars, vocals (1972-1977; 1980-2002)
Tim Harries - Bass, Piano (1989-2001)
Liam Genockey – drums, percussion (1989-1997; 2002-now)
(Nigel Pegrum recorded Tempted and Tried in '89 but left before the tour)
+Gay Woods from 1994– vocals (1969-1970; 1994-2001)
Mark Williamson & Chris Staines (Bass) each had about a year each in 87/88 as the band searched for a replacement to Rick

Tempted and Tried; Tonight's the Night; Time

The Classic line up petered out in the 80's after Rick (1987) and Nigel left (1989) so a new rythym section was needed. Tim Harries and Liam Genockey came on board and a stable period began. Initially this line up was part time, with annual tours and occasional releases but from 1994 became more active and worked on a more 'full time' basis. These new members, along with Bob giving up outside interests and Peter returning from America, both around 94/95 gave the band a new lease of life.

In 1994 with Maddy having some voice difficulties, Rick Kemp suggested that they get Gay Woods back in to help lighten the load on the vocals. It went well and Gay stayed on, mainly in the background but also contributing songs on the well regarded 'Time' album. The line up also helped get together the big 'Reunion' concert of 1995 and toured with Status Quo in '96.

Peter Knight – strings, keyboards, vocals (1970-1977; 1980-2013)
Bob Johnson – guitars, vocals (1972-1977; 1980-2000; 2002)
Tim Harries - Bass, Piano (1989-2001)
Gay Woods – vocals (1969-1970; 1994-2001)

+ Dave Mattacks - Drums (played on albums and tours)
+ Gerry Conway/Terl Bryant - Drums (1 tour)
+Rick Kemp (Bass on 2000 tour)
+ Tamsyn Alexander (Guest vocalist in one off concert in 2001)

Horkstow Grange ; Bedlam Born

Maddy leaves the bus! Liam left as well (in early '98) but the band continued as a 4 piece with guest drummers. In a relatively active 4 years, two very different albums were made, going from an acoustic sounding first album to a return to genuine Folk-Rock with 'Bedlam Born'. In 2000 the band started to self-destruct with Bob leaving while recording Bedlam Born (Rick Kemp stepped in for the Bedlam tour in 2000 after 15 years away as Tim moved to lead guitar), Gay then left in 2001 before finally Tim Harries also left leaving just Peter as the only full time member and 'caretaker' for most of 2001.

Maddy Prior – vocals (1969-1997; 2002-now)
Peter Knight – strings, keyboards, vocals (1970-1977; 1980-2013)
Rick Kemp – bass, vocals (1972-1987; 2001-2016)
Liam Genockey – drums, percussion (1989-1997; 2002-now)
Ken Nicol - Guitars (2002-2009)
(Bob Johnson in 2002 to record 'Present')
+Pete Zorn in 2009 as cover for Rick

Present; They Called Her Babylon; Winter; Bloody Men; Cogs  ,Wheels & Lovers

The Group that would became the longest unchanged line up in the bands history was born from crisis. For a time in 2001 Peter was the only member of the band after Gay Woods, Tim Harries and Bob Johnson all left in quick succession. It was decided that to save the band it needed the return of as much of the classic line up as possible. Crucially Maddy Prior returned, and along with Rick who had toured with the last line up, plus Bob (to record album only) it meant the nucleus of the line up that made them famous could return.
Although Bob retired straight after recording 'Present', the recruitment of Ken Nicol, former Albion Band member proved to be a sound move and the band became a unified and stable working group that toured extensively releasing a number of live albums, DVD's along with 5 studio albums.

Maddy Prior – vocals (1969-1997; 2002-now)
Peter Knight – strings, keyboards, vocals (1970-1977; 1980-2013)
Rick Kemp – bass, vocals (1972-1987; 2001-2016)
Liam Genockey – drums, percussion (1989-1997; 2002-now)
Pete Zorn - guitar; flute; saxophone (2009-2015)
Julian Littman - guitars (2010 - now)

Now We are Six Again; Wintersmith

Julian Littman was a straight replacement for Ken Nicol who left in 2010 and Pete Zorn, who had joined the 2009 tour as cover for Rick when he was ill, became a full time member as the band found his multi-instrumental ability gave them a new dimension. The line up re-worked the 'Now We are Six' album in a live setting and recorded the most successful Steeleye album since All Around My Hat - the 'Wintersmith' concept album which hit the UK charts.

-Maddy Prior – vocals (1969-1997; 2002-now)
Rick Kemp – bass, vocals (1972-1987; 2001-2016)
Liam Genockey – drums, percussion (1989-1997; 2002-now)
Julian Littman - guitars, mandolin, accordion (2010 - now)
Jessie-May Smart - Violin (2014- now)
+Peter Zorn for 2014-2015
from 2015- Andrew 'Spud' Sinclair - Lead Guitar (2015-now)

+ Alex Kemp / Nils Peterson - Bass on N. America tour in '15

Dodgy Bastards

The departure of Peter Knight was a big change for the band as he had been in Steeleye through thick and thin since 1970 apart from 2 years off in 77-78. The inclusion of Jessie-May Smart, a '20-something' classical violinist was a bold change. With Pete Zorn leaving in 2015 and sadly passing away soon after, 'Spud' Sinclair came in on lead guitar to further enhance the changes and a new Rock focused outlook as the band showed no signs of standing still. Rick Kemp retired at the end of 2016 and the latest line up, with Bass player Roger Carey and 7th member Benji Kirkpatrick was born...

Maddy Prior, vocals (1969-1997; 2002-)
Liam Genockey, drums (1989-1997; 2002-)
Julian Littman, guitar, mandolin, keyboards, vocals; (2010-)
Jessica May Smart, violin, vocals (2014-)
Andrew ‘Spud’ Sinclair, guitar, vocals (2015-)
Roger Carey, bass (2017-now)
+Violeta Barrena on 2019 tours as cover for Jessie on Maternity leave.

Benji Kirkpatrick, guitar, Bouzouki; Banjo; vocals (2017-2019). Officially left in Jan 2022

Albums: 'EST'd 1969'


The 7 piece line-up from 2017-2019, was the first in the bands history. It started in 2017 with the additions of Benji Kirkpatrick and Roger Carey. Roger was a straight replacement for Rick Kemp, the 'Classic Line-up' Bass player. Benji was an additional member, mainly to add back in the Rhythmic Guitar role that Pete Zorn filled. Benji also added vocals and mainly played the Bouzouki & Banjo. Benji officially left in Jan 2022 but had not played with the band since Dec 2019.
Jessie-May Smart was the replacement for another 'Classic' band member -Peter Knight on fiddle. Julian Littman replaced Ken Nicol on guitar/vocals. 'Spud' Sinclair replaced Pete Zorn becoming the bands first upfront 'lead' guitarist, leaving Julian to often fill the 'Rhythm guitar role until Benji joined. Liam Genockey joined in 1989 replacing the bands only previous regular drummer Nigel Pegrum. With 28 years in the band Liam is the 5th longest serving member.