Bob Johnson

Guitar/Mandolin 1972-76; 1980-2000


Bob was the bands guitarist throughout its most popular 'Classic' era.  After two years out he was then in the band from 1980 through to 2002. His influence cannot be understated. Peter described him as 'Mr Steeleye' as all his efforts and ambitions in music were satisfied by being in Steeleye. He very rarely did anything outside musically apart from his 1977 Concept album project with Peter Knight - 'The King of Elflands Daughter' which was narrated by Christopher Lee.
Bob started out in a number of small pop/rock bands in the 60's, including backing Paul Raven who later became Gary Glitter. He was interested in bringing pop sensibilities into traditional music and did some folk club gigs with Peter Knight. Once Pete when off to Steeleye Bob was disillusioned with music, becoming an office worker before Pete asked him 2 years later to join him in Steeleye.
Bob's influence on the bands success was very significant as not only did he realise the potential of Gaudete when he heard it in a Church, but he was responsible for almost all the Group's big ballads which became their signature sound and are still heard in the set list today. Long Lankin; Thomas the Rhymer; King Henry; Alison Gross; Tam Lin were all devised, arranged, often with newly written melodies by Bob. These 5 songs have all appeared in 2019 concerts.
In keeping with his wish for privacy, once he retired from the band due to ill health he completely retired from Music and has not done any interviews or been 'seen' since apart from the recent short 50th Anniversary DVD documentary. The only other exception to this was that the Band asked him to contribute to the 'Wintersmith' project as they knew he loved Terry Pratchett. He wrote 'Ancient eyes' and 'The Wee Free Men' and sung backing vocals. Even better are his demo versions that appear on the Wintersmith 'Deluxe' CD where plays and sings.

Bob never really wanted to do anything 'solo', in his words: "Everything I was doing worked perfectly well in Steeleye Span! It just so happens it did. There was Peter playing and Maddy singing, and what more could I want?"
(Steven Winick article - 1997 Tour Programme)


This concept album was conceived by Bob and it was very much his labour of love. It is an adaption of the 1924 Fantasy Novel by Lord Dunsany. He enlisted Peter to help him, along with various other friends in the music business. Nigel Pegrum played drums on most of the tracks. It even has Christopher Lee as the narrator. Tony Secunda, who was Steeleye's manager at the time was happy to support it and according to Peter, in order to get the backing needed, Tony had to go to Chrysalis and persuade them to provide £30k to fund this obscure album. He managed this by telling Chrysalis Bob and Peter would leave Steeleye if this album wasn't made! Chrysalis agreed but didn't promote or market it at all so it was not a commercial success. Ironically Peter and Bob did leave Steeleye anyway, but apparently nothing to do with this album which was reported in the press at the time.

With Christopher Lee recording Album