Tim joined Steeleye in 1989 for the recording of the single 'Padstow' having worked with drummer Nigel Pegrum. He replaced Rick Kemp as the bands full time Bass player after the band had worked briefly with Mark Williamson and Chris Staines over the previous 2 years. Tim was asked to tour with the band and before the end of the year joined full time and helped finish record the album 'Tempted and Tried'. In his words "
I put bass parts on existing tracks and sang a few harmonies, then we recorded ‘Searching for Lambs’ which had come together during the tour"
After a few years in the background he contributed and sung on his first song for Steeleye, 'One True Love', on the 1998 album Horkstow Grange. He then added 3 more songs to the Bedlam Born album: 'John Of Ditchford, 'There Was a Wealthy Merchant' and 'Stephen'. He wrote the song 'Staring Robin' which was heard live around '99-'00 and recorded for the Bedlam Born album, but was seen as too 'Punk Rock' for Steeleye and Park Records recommended it was not included. Peter Knight has since said the band should not have listened and should have included it. It has never been released since. It can be heard sung below.
He was taking more and more of a 'front line' in his last few years, especially on his last tour when he took over lead guitar after Rick Kemp on Bass replaced Bob Johnson. On his final appearance at Cromer in 2001 he introduced most of the songs, sang a new song 'Through Moorfields' and sang vocals on a number of other tracks.
He left in May 2001 straight after Cromer, and not long after Gay Woods. At the time it was only himself and Peter Knight who were full time band members. He gave no specific reason for leaving but at the time the future of the band was very bleak.
Tim studied Double Bass at the Guildhall School of Music followed by a stint as a successful session musician. Prior to joining Steeleye he also joined the Jazz Band 'Bill Bruford's Earthworks' in 1988.
Since leaving Steeleye Tim has been in demand as a session and live musician with Katie Melua, Brian Eno, June Tabor and Barbara Dickson. He has also spent time in the Adrian Edmondson Punk Folk band 'Bad Shepherds' and the Celtic Rock band Iona. In more recent years he has explored free jazz/Electronica styles in projects such as 'Spin-Marvel' and 'Puul'
I was keen to ask him first what he did before joining the Spanners.
I did my degree in Music at York University from 1978-1981, then I went to London to study Double bass at the Guildhall. In July 1982 I finished studying and took the plunge into the world of the working musician. It wasn’t idyllic; Panto, holiday camps, cabaret, weddings, Bar Mitzvahs, opera, orchestras, jazz, teaching, sessions etc. You work to survive, to keep playing. I was in lots of bands, good, bad and indifferent. None of them made it but it kept me dreaming of better things.
In 1987 Jude and I left London with our one-year-old daughter Miriam and settled in Northampton. All the hack work dried up, no more ‘New York, New York’, no more Strauss evenings, no idea what the future held.
Then one day in 1988 the phone rang and it was Bill Bruford from ‘King Crimson’. He had a Hi-Tech Jazz project called ‘Earthworks’ and they were looking for a new bass player. I auditioned, got it and we did three albums and toured Europe, America, Canada and Japan, finishing around 1993.Amazing band – incredible musicians.
Prior to joining Steeleye, what did you know about them?
I met Nigel Pegrum on a session at Rick Parfitt’s studio around 85-86 and from then on he’d occasionally call for things at his studio in Milton Keynes. It was there that ‘Round and Round the Garden’ was recorded, a top kids tape you could get at the Early Learning Centre – maybe still can. He’d talk about this band he was in called Steeleye Span and how it really wound him up. Jude had always liked Maddy Prior but I was an Alice Cooper baby so I’d never really checked them out in the 1970’s – hadn’t punk done away with all these people? Anyway, we got on a guest list for a gig at the Dominion. They were weird! Rick (Kemp) slapping hell out of the bass, Maddy leaping about in a pink suit, inaudible guitar…. I must admit they were nothing like I’d imagined them to be. I remember feeling a mixture of embarrassment and fascination. They were like ‘The Grateful Dead’ cut adrift from the sixties and it was hard to tell if their audience loved or hated them.
So how did you come to join?
I remember hearing that Rick Kemp had left and they’d replaced him. Looking back, I really wanted to be in it but Nigel kept telling me no – they wanted someone who could sing and I had enough to do, what with ‘Earthworks’ and other things but it was on my mind. Next thing they’d said goodbye to yet another bass player and Nigel asked me if I’d play on their new single ‘Padstow’ (the dream of having a hit was still glowing in the grate in those days!). There was a tour imminent and they were stuck and needed someone so my untried vocal abilities didn’t seem to be an issue anymore, I was in.
'Fusion' Jazz band led by drummer Bill Bruford who was the drummer in Yes and King Crimson for many years. This version of the band lasted from 1986 to 1993 and Tim was part of the band from '88 to '93.
Tim toured and recorded with the Adrian Edmundson 'Folk Punk' band that re recorded Punk/Post Punk classics in a 'folk' setting. Tim was on the album "BY Hook or BY Crook" and played live with the band for a couple of years.
Tim was a part of the progressive Celtic Rock band Iona for a time in the mid 90's. In the band as well was drummer Terl Bryant who played at Cromer with Steeleye in 2001. Troy Donockley was also in the band, who was also in the 'Bad Shepherds', plus Troy was a long time member of 'Maddy Prior & Friends' recording a number of albums with Maddy in the 90's.
Tim was on the 1996 album 'Journey into the Morn'