Birth of Electric Folk


The initial idea by soon-to-be ex-Fairport leader Ashley Hutchings, was a band that would explore the electrification of traditional music from the British Isles. It started after discussions at the '69 Keele folk festival in June between Ashley; Maddy Prior & Tim Hart and Dave & Toni Arthur. They discussed their dissatisfaction of the isolationist nature of the British Folk scene, and the unwillingness to consider an 'electric' approach to traditional music from within the folk scene, rather than it coming from the Rock side, which it had so far. In the car on the way home after the festival Tim, Maddy and Ashley also got the seal of approval of Bert Lloyd for what they were planning. Ashley had already explored the use of traditional music in Rock setting with Fairport Convention, culminating in 'Liege and Lief' in Dec 1969. Ashley left Fairport to continue this 'Folk Rock' after the remaining members of Fairport had seen it as a one-off experiment.

Ashley initially tried to form a band with Sweeney's Men (Irvine, Moynihan and Woods) and had good initial discussions with Terry, with whom he had become very good friends with. Johnny Moynihan however was not interested after a falling out with Terry, whilst Andy Irvine wasn't keen without Johnny. This left Ashley with only Terry Woods (now with his wife Gay, who had come over from Ireland). They then considered the Pegg's, but they wanted to explore a more experimental direction. Finally, after an unsuccessful approach to the Dransfield brothers, Ashley then called upon Maddy and Tim, recalling their discussions at Keele. Tim and Maddy were at a point where they were to keen to expand their own sound having been successful as a duo on the folk club scene.

Maddy: "Tim Hart and I had a small flat in Archway, іп a house with about four flats in it...  think three of the flats were actually rented by folk people, it was a sort of a community. The first day of the group would be the dinner we had there with Ashley and Gay & Terry, when they said, “Do you want to join the band?" At the time, there was a lot of talk about folk going electric, but basically nobody could afford it, and we didn't know how to do it anyway. But Ashley had been in Fairport Convention and had access to record companies and things, so he was in a position to do it. So the next day we went to Ashley’s house in Muswell Hill and rehearsed songs that we liked - Terry and Gay would have done Dark-Eyed Sailor, we'd have done something like Copshawholme Fair, possibly - and we decided it would work. We knew it was going to be a band." Rehearsals continued in December '69.

It was announced on 22nd November in the NME that Ashley had left Fairport, arguably therefore the birth date of Steeleye. Interestingly in a later article (Dec '69) Ashley suggested the line up was still not completely decided at that point.

Steeleye Span Mk I

(l-r) Ashley Hutchings; Terry Woods; Gay Woods; Maddy Prior; Tim Hart.

Origin of the name Steeleye Span

Described by Martin Carthy (who suggested it to Tim Hart as a good name for a band) :  

The name of the band, Steeleye Span, comes from a song about 100 – 150 years old. There’s this place called Horkstow Grange (the name of the folk song) up in Lincolnshire; the foreman there was a man called John Bolin, and there was a waggoner called John ‘Steeleye’ Span who worked there too… and both men obviously hated each other’s guts. They eventually had an enormous punch-up and the whole thing is commemorated in the ballad. Well the song has got changed somewhere along the line so that Steeleye Span is now a miser, and John Bolin is his foreman. In the song, Span takes every opportunity to shit on Bolin, who eventually loses his cool and hangs one on him. Then Span, instead of belting him back, takes revenge through the courts.

Alternative names were 'Lyubidan Waits' (Terry and Gay, named after an Irish God) and 'Middlemarch Wait' (Hutchings) Maddy and Tim wanted Carthy's suggestion but apparently Tim voted twice!


Rehearsing and living together

January / February. With Ashley's success from Fairport Convention they managed to get the successful producer Sandy
Roberton as their manager, who had recently joined B&C records after working for RCA, and who were keen on getting into 'underground music'. This gave them the funds and the equipment they needed to go and live together in Winterbourne Stoke, a small village in Wiltshire, where they practised for 3 months 'getting it together’. Later described by Ashley as 'Two couples and a referee'. Although they all found the music inspiring, living so close created strains amongst the two chalk and cheese couples and 3 months of living this way proved too much...  

31st March for one week - Recorded the debut album.

Colourised by Mark Warbington

31st March: BBC 'Top Gear' Session (aired 11th April 1970)

 The only appearance of original band, recorded on the same day they went into the studio to start recording the debut album. Tragically this session has never surfaced. It was noted on 'The Journey' sleeve notes that the recording was lost. An off air fragment exists but no complete tracks. 

Full details are available on the 'BBC Sessions' page

April 19th - Maddy Prior and Peter Knight both feature on the BBC TV Programme 'Seeing and Believing: There the Dance Is'. Also featured Roy Bailey but no other details known.

25th April: Gay & Terry Woods leave

Date per Melody Maker. The recording of the new album was fractious with the living arrangements spilling over into the recording sessions, and with one song still to finish Gay and Terry left after a bust up in the studio. The reasons highlighted since have mainly centered around Tim and Terry's relationship. They were both strong personalities with their own ideas about the direction of the music and didn't particularly get on, in part apparently because Tim & Maddy continued to gig together during the initial rehearsals, which straight away got the relationship off to a rocky start. Terry said in 2001: "It became impossible to work with Tim and Maddy..it got beyond music"

As far as Terry and Gay were concerned there was an agreement that if anyone left, the band split up and the remaining members would not use the name Steeleye Span. This 'betrayal' almost certainly accounted for Terry Woods never appearing with the band again, including the 1995 big Reunion concert where he was the only member to not appear. Terry said: "We ended up signing stuff that we should never have signed. It was such a nasty way for such a great thing to end". Terry and Gay went onto record albums together as a duo and as 'The Woods Band'. 

Click on image for details & song by song review

Debut Album - Hark! The Village Wait

RCA Records. Recorded at Sound Techniques studio, Chelsea. Released June 1970. Produced by Sandy Roberton.
Released after the band split up and after Martin had joined, this debut album was mostly traditional material apart from the opener - 'A Calling-On Song' which was written by Ashley based on an old tune (Earsdon Sword Dance'). 'Fisherman's Wife' Lyrics were written by Ewan MacColl. As became the accepted way for a Steeleye album, all the members brought different songs to the recording sessions.
Guest drummers were Gerry Conway and Dave Mattacks, both of whom performed later with the band in the 90's.  A 'Wait' is a Tudor village/town band or musician. No outtakes have appeared from the sessions but it's believed one song was recorded but not included (see below).

'Missing' Hark! Track - Noisey Johnny

It has been long known that one track was excluded (maybe partially recorded) because the band split before the album was completed. Thanks to interviews by Simon Jones it can be confirmed that the Terry Woods instrumental 'Noisey Johnny' was this intended track. Terry did not give the band permission to include it after the split. Terry and Gay went on to record it for their 1971 'The Woods Band' album. (link below) The tune is named after Steeleye's first roadie Johnny Butler (pictured on the rear of the Hark! sleeve) who had 'wind' problems! No one knows if it was actually recorded by Steeleye.

April: Martin Carthy joins 

The band had effectively split up when the Wood's initially left. Ashley went off to pursue a project with Bob and Carole Pegg. However, Tim Hart was keen to continue the project and called up his friend Martin Carthy to see if he would be interested. Martin had seen his playing partner of 3 years - Dave Swarbrick - join Fairport (Carthy had turned down Fairport) and was in his words 'living out of a suitcase', having just split up from his first wife. All these factors made Martin think why not, he "just fancied it...it was this huge thing - why not?" This then encouraged Ashley to leave the Pegg's, with whom he was working with again to come back and try again with Steeleye. As Maddy said, Martin joining gave Steeleye 'A stamp of approval' amongst the Folk audience. 

The significance of Martin joining cannot be underestimated. As well as providing a folk 'legitimacy' Martin also drove the group to being a fully electric band. Martin described the first album as 'mainly acoustic'. Martin's reputation also gave the band a boost in being able to start touring and get gigs straight away as there was considerable interest in seeing how he would play in an electric band - having only played acoustic guitar so far.

Peter Knight (Fiddle) Joins

After practicing for 2 months at the Vicarage, St Albans (Tim's Parents) the four members soon realised they needed another multi-instrumentalist to join them as they felt they were too guitar heavy. 

  Peter Knight had been seen playing in the folk clubs, particularly the Irish Folk scene in London, so was known to Ashley, Tim and Maddy, having performed with Maddy on TV recently (now lost). He had also done some gigs with Bob Johnson. Peter was classically trained which appealed to Martin and Tim as they had a good musical knowledge themselves but wanted to explore more complex arrangements. 

This then completed the first Steeleye line up that went out and played live and produced two classic Electric Folk Albums.

Steeleye Span Mk2

(l-r) Martin Carthy; Maddy Prior; Tim Hart; Peter Knight; Ashley Hutchings

23rd June: BBC Radio John Peel Session (aired 27th June as a 'Top Gear' episode). 

This is probably the first performance of the new band, although competes with the 'Music Room' appearance below for this accolade. Full details of this, and all the BBC sessions that are references in the timeline, are on the 'BBC Sessions' page which has track listings, availability and other information. The tracks are available on 2006 Re-issue of 'Please to see the King' and is often repeated by the BBC in better quality. 
As rare as live recordings of the band are, it is fortunate that what I believe to be the very first appearance of this line up was recorded and is still available in very good quality.
The Blacksmith; Female Drummer; Rave On; I Was a Young Man; Lark in the Morning.

[Date unknown] ATV Television Programme - 'The Music Room'

The Lark in the Morning; The King; Prince Charlie Stuart; Bryan O'Lynn/The Hag With The Money.

This is mentioned by Tim Hart as the "first ever public appearance" of the band. No one is certain of the actual date of recording but it was broadcast on the 18th October 1970. Judging by comments it was almost certainly in July around the same time as the two sessions above. In an article on July 18th in Melody Maker John Pearse mentions Peter Knight now playing with them and says the group 'is really brilliant and so original'. He would have almost certainly recorded the programme by then to make the comments. On the programme itself the band note that they have been together for 'a few months' and later '2 or 3 months'. 

It is a truly remarkable early performance of Steeleye and only recently has the full programme been made available to watch (the video below). The video has been made available by the journalist Simon Jones and Tim Vickerstaff, who converted the programme from an old VHS video which Michael Young gave to Simon about 30 years ago! The programme was actually in part about how to make your own Dulcimer and in discussion Tim Hart mentions that his own 'solid electric dulcimer' was made in January. 

The man in the armchair on the left is John Pearse the presenter, who is also a singer, guitar/bouzouki teacher. It has been said that the programmes took place in his flat. He also interviews the band in the show. The man sat on the far right is Peter Connah and the other lady is Olivia Lyons who were both there making a Dulcimer with John Pearse each week. 
 These tracks (except for Prince Charlie Stuart) are available on the 2009 Castle CD Reissue of 'Please to see the King', the tracks are not in order though and listed incorrectly in places on the CD (i.e. Lark in the Morning as TopGear). 


11th July: BBC 2 TV (Disco 2). 11.35pm 

A 25 minute BBC show with live music that ran for 2 years and a forerunner to 'The Old Grey Whistle test'. This episode had 6 acts (including Alan Brown and Justine.) Thanks to Chris Boland we know that one song 'Cold, Haily, Windy Night' was played.  Also possibly the bands first TV appearance. Personally I think recorded after the 'Music Room', but we just can't be 100% sure. Sadly not seen since. Fragments exist from the programme but it's not known exactly what survives. 

16th July: BBC Session (Sounds of the 70's) 

Aired 23rd July. Some tracks are on 2006 Re-issue of 'Please to see the King'. Full session details are on the 'BBC Sessions' page.

Cold Haily Windy Night; The King; Prince Charlie Stuart; Bold Poachers

31st July – 2nd Aug Cambridge Folk Festival - Live Debut of the band.

Played in the 'Club tent' included 'Rave On' but reportedly only played 2 songs.

First UK Tour

Sept/Oct/Nov.  Mainly UK Universities
Sadly we don't have any further details of the set list but we can assume most, if not all, of the above songs played in BBC/TV sessions were probably played

30th Sept Salford University . Freshers gig. 1st Proper Concert for the band.
2nd Oct Southampton uni
3rd Colchester, Sussex Uni
4th Epping Tech College
8th Belsize Park Country Club
9th London Cecil Sharp House
10th London Central Poly
11th Southall Farx Club
15th Bristol Uni
24th Manchester Uni. w. Trees
1st Nov: Little Theatre, Newport Folk Club, Newport. [Thanks Stephen!]
5th Watford Town Hall . With the Strawbs & Al Stewart.
6th Plymouth Van Dyke
7th London Uni College - with Fotheringay Support
8th Leeds Poly

Belsize Park Country Club (Thanks Jamie for identifying!)


29th Sept: BBC Radio 'Folk On One' Session. (aired 17th Oct). 

Most tracks appear on 'Please to See the King' Re-Issue CD and some on Ashley Hutchings 'The Guv'nor Vol 1'. Full Session details are on the 'BBC Sessions' page.

Oct: London Royal Court Theatre:

Performance watched by Keith Dewhurst. Carthy was going to contribute the music to Pirates but he was too busy. Tim and Maddy therefore helped out and drove overnight to Sunderland to rehearse the production the next morning, impressing Dewhurst so much that he scripted an entire play around Steeleye (Corunna)  

28th Nov - London Black Bull.
6th Dec - Havestock Hill Country Club.

13th December: Play 'Pirates'.
One night only at the Royal Court, a play by Keith Dewhurst. Songs arranged by Martin Carthy, Sung by Steeleye Span.

19th NME: Signed to B&C. In the midst of recording Please to see the King (started in March)

Per Sounds: "So far we have put down an instrumental track, Cold Haily Windy Night, Female Drummer, False Knight on the Road and Charlie"

22nd Cheltenham Town Hall.
26th Sang Carol's at St Saviour's Church, St Albans. Per article the group were going to Manchester to record Carols for Granada TV.
31st Plymouth, Van Dyke. 


(80+ appearances) 2 Albums and Band changes at the end of the year

In an article in ‘Beats Instrumental’ Sandy Roberton says that he has set a limit of 10 Steeleye Gigs and 10 Solo gigs per month for the Band members to help ensure longevity, this crops up in a few articles. This also ties in with the very open understanding that the band members would continue with solo gigs and projects alongside Steeleye.

7th Jan: Grimsby Town Hall
10th Jan: Warwick Uni. Review said Steeleye are 'one of the brightest prospects for 1971..' and that after the performance 'the most hardened traditionalists cannot fail to be won over'.
13th Jan: Bounds Green Folk Club. w.Peelers, Bonded Book & June Tabor
15th Jan  Hampstead Country Club. w. Paladin
16th: Manchester UMIST

21st Jan: BBC Radio 1: Sounds of the 70's. Aired 4th Feb.
Recorded during recording of new album. Tracks Appear on 2006 re-issue of 'Please to the See the King'. Full details on the 'BBC Sessions' page.

25th Jan: Oxford Town Hall (With the Dransfield's)
January - Rehearsals for Please to see the King.

2nd Feb Southampton Uni. with Tir-na-Nog
18th Feb: Mountford Hall, Liverpool. with Dransfields & Mr Fox
22nd: Watford.

UK Tour supporting Jethro Tull

26th Feb London, Gaumont State Theatre
 27th London, LSE. with Principle Edwards. Not Tull.
 28th London, Gaumont State Theatre. 
False Knight on the Road; Lark in the Morning; The King; Reels; Cold Haily Windy Night; Bright Morning Star; Rave On; Female Drummer.
 3rd March Brighton Dome
 5th Bournemouth Winter gardens
 7th Plymouth Guild Hall (2 shows)
 11th Leeds Town Hall
 12th Stoke Victoria Guildhall
 13th Liverpool Mountfield Hall (2 shows)
 14th Blackpool Opera House
 19th Edinbugh Empire
 20th Sunderland Empire (2 Shows)

2nd Album: Please to see the King

Released on the 1st March by B&C Records. Produced by Sandy Roberson
Click on image for details & song by song review

With changes in the band a second album was quickly needed and the result was a very dense, ground breaking heavy 'electric-folk' album with no drums (decision led by Martin) and was a sound that would define the bands early years. It reached 45 in the charts, which was unheard of for a Folk album, and was widely regarded as an electric folk masterpiece, getting the attention of the press, critics and influential Radio DJ's like John Peel.

The cover to the original LP was in a lovely hessian material. All songs are traditional and a later castle CD reissue (2003) included a series of Off-air recordings of BBC sessions. Produced by Sandy Roberton and released on B&C records. The title is a reference to the 'Cutty Wren' ceremony where a Wren is paraded like a King on 26th Dec.

3rd April NME - Meet the Band! 

March / April 
16th March: BBC Radio 'Top Gear'. Aired 27th March. 
Some tracks available on 2006 Re-issue of 'Please to see the King'. Full details are on the 'BBC Sessions' page

 [19th Mch Bradford University: Steeleye Span, John Martyn, Dr Strangely Strange.] Wrong date so need to confirm actual date. 
22nd Mch Victoria Rooms, Bristol.
24th Mch Charity Concert at Great Ormonds Street Hospital
4th Apr Inverness Town Hall Folk Festival (1,400 people in total)
False Knight on the Road; Wee Weaver; General Taylor; Lark in the Morning; Female Drummer; Lovely on the Water; Rave On.

 9th April  London, Hampstead County Club
10th (or 11th) April Rocky Road Nightclub. Coventry. Advert in Coventry Evening Telegraph on the 10th.
12th April Birmingham Town Hall. w.Tir Na Nog
25th April ReddCar jazz club

27th April: Rehearsals for the play 'Corunna!' start.

6th May Uni OF Essex, Colchester. 
Gower Wassail; The King; General Taylor; Captain Coulston; Female Drummer; Skewball; Rave On; Jigs.
7th Nottignham Trent Polly
8th London Uni College

17th & 18th May London Royal Court Theatre; 
Warm up for Carunna. Per article sang: When I was on Horseback; 'Mountains of Spain' 'Johnny Trap's Lullaby' 

Performances of the play 'Corunna' 

19th - 23rd Royal Court Theatre (upstairs) London

Written by Keith Dewhurst, directed by Bill Brydon the play featured various actors, including Brian Glover and the members of Steeleye. The play was a mixture of singing and acting band as it enacted the British army's retreat at Corunna in Spain under Wellington in 1808-09. The play was set up on a T shaped stage which reviews said worked well. Tim (a weaver) and Maddy (his 'snivelling camp follower) took 2 of the lead roles with Brian Glover and Juliet Aykroyd. Peter was a soldier with no tongue and Ashley was a narrator. 

Songs from the play featured on the next two albums and included: Cold Haily Windy Night; The Female Drummer; The Lark in the Morning. Other songs were original Dewhurst songs, sometimes with music by Steeleye as well as other traditional songs/Jigs. One song 'O'Riordan's Song' was sung by Maddy to the tune of 'When I was on Horseback' with just Tim on his Dulcimer. Songs like 'Song of the Advertising Copywriter' were noted as being an interesting counterpoint to the usual Steeleye sound.
Maddy said she enjoyed Corunna more than 'Kidnapped' as it was more experimental and the band had the chance to act. 

Tantalizingly there are a couple of articles that suggested there would be a TV Special' of Corunna' or that the BBC might film it. Sadly we can only assume this never happened.

Steeleye Span in Corunna Rehearsals May 1971

4th June: Tim Hart and Maddy Prior Album: Summer Solstice (B&C).
With Tim and Maddy continuing to tour they took the opportunity to release a 3rd album as a duo, the first after Steeleye had started. Recorded under B&C and produced by Sandy Roberton, which gave them the opportunity to take more time to produce a more rounded sounding record, inviting guest musicians and using multi track production techniques & overdubbing which they were unable to afford on their first two albums.
As was accepted with this line up, the band members all had other musical interests that they carried on pursuing alongside Band commitments.

ITV 'Out Front'. Ainsdale Beach, Southport.

Recorded on 30th June and broadcast on the 13th July with Fairport Convention. Was meant to be a small 'made for TV' concert advertised locally as a 'Free Beach Party' where people were encouraged to 'Do Your Thing'. But people heard there was a free 'Festival' so turned up in their hundreds and then thousands. The crew had only expected a few locals so had to set up new speakers so everyone could hear it. The bands did some additional songs to keep the crowd happy but when they finished more and more were still turning up and apparently burned down the stage in protest of their not actually being a festival! A really unique chance to see this line up in a live gig. High Quality video Below.

The Lark in the Morning; Reels- Dowd's favorite-£10 Float-Morning Dew; The Female Drummer.

July/August: Festivals and one off concerts

2nd - 4th July Loughborough (Keele) Folk Festival 

[Included famous debate regarding amplification of Folk].
When I was on Horseback; Lark in the Morning; Gower Wassail; General Taylor

16th July Lewisham Concert Hall
17th July English Folk Dance & Song Society Diamond Jubilee.

London Festival Hall In "The greatest folk event ever". Review in NME. 20 minute set including Lark in the Morning & Female Drummer. (Image below)

24th: Lincoln 'Tupholme' Festival "Concert Of Contemporary  & Traditional Folk Music" 

One day festival with an estimated 60,000 visitors! Incredible String Band, Pentangle; Sandy Denny were other attendees. Tim and Maddy did a 'short but inspiring set' before Steeleye. The Steeleye set started with some issues in the mix/balance (a common issue for Steeleye at Folk Festivals!) but improved. Female Drummer, False Knight & The King featured. A review mentions Maddy Prior singing an 'emotive version' of 'The Dying Soldier'. A song which has never been referenced before or since, probably as part of her duo slot with Tim.

On stage at the Festival Hall (17th July)

30th July - 1st Aug Cambridge Folk Festival

Little is known about the bands first proper appearance at the Cambridge Folk Festival.

14th Aug: 'Feast of Folk' Festival. Syon Park, Brentford.

Steeleye headlined the Friday night. Thanks to Pete Anderson we have these great images of the programme and Steeleye live on stage - a rare photo from these early years!
And thanks to Chris Boland who was also there and spotted that Martin Carthy used his pink Strat rather than his usual blue Telecaster!  

Thanks again to Peter for these unique are rare photos and as you can see Martin here with his Pink/Red Strat.

6th Aug. Plymouth, Van Dykes
25th Aug. The Stables, Higham   w.Pigsty Hill Light Orchestra & The Songwainers
26th Aug. The Sportsman's Club, Accrington

The press had reported that Steeleye were going to play the Philadelphia Folk festival 27-29th Aug, which would have been their first US trip, but I have seen no evidence that it actually happened, especially given the appearances on the 26th and 31st around these dates

31st Aug. Pipers Tuesday Folk Concert St Johns hall Penzance. Tickets 50p

Sept: Ten Man Mop Recording Sessions

Recorded the upcoming 'Ten Man Mop' album during September and the following radio sessions at the same time: 

15th Sept (aired 26th) : BBC Radio 1 'John Peel's Sunday Concert'.
The most extensive BBC Radio Session by the band. Appears almost in full on 2006 Re-issue of 'Ten Man Mop' but a much better quality recording exists as a Bootleg. Full details are available on the 'BBC Sessions' page.

22nd Sept: (aired 30th) BBC Radio: Sounds of the 70s with Pete Drummond.
Peter Knight was ill for this session which gave it a more unique set list and feel. Full details available on the 'BBC Sessions' Page.

I recently came across these photos of the band recording the album at the 'Sound Techniques Studio'. They appeared in the short lived 'Folk and Country' Monthly magazine (Nov 1971)

Single-'Rave On'

Released 1st Oct by B&C records ready for the upcoming tour, as a 'Maxi' single with Female Drummer/£10 Float reels. Long before the band introduced the 'Rockers Encore' they recorded this Buddy Holly classic for a 'bit of fun'. Apparently Tim and Maddy sung it in the car mainly to annoy Ashley, but he actually commented that it sounded quite good so they included it in the live set. Sandy and B&C thought it would do well as a 'novelty' single and hence the release.  It included what sounded like scratches on the record but was intentional. Although a surprising single from a set of folkies, it actually got plenty of airplay but no real chart success.

Oct: British Tour

The first Proper Headlining British Tour. Support by Andy Roberts. 1st to have a programme.
Up to this point the band had played on a rather ad-hoc basis, reflecting that they were still a relatively small niche band, as well as the fact that they were fitting in gigs around the existing commitments. The set list also reflects this with quite a few songs brought from solo repertoires. This tour was the only major tour by this line up and by the end of it internally the band knew Ashley was going to leave.

SET LIST: Based on Manchester: 

Four Nights Drunk, Jigs, We Beg your Leave ('Pace Egging song'), Gower Wassail, Lark In The Morning, Hornpipes (Pete & Maddy), Handsome Polly-O (Martin), I Live Not Where I Love (Tim & Maddy), Jigs, When I Was On Horseback, We Poor Labouring Men, Maddy's Poem 'The Hoop', Cold Haily Windy Night, Encore: Female Drummer, Rave On, Uncle Tom Cobbley. 

3rd Oct Bristol Colston Hall
4th Southampton Guildhall
7th   Leeds Uni
12th Free Trade Hall, Manchester
13th Abersytwyth Uni
14th Wawick Uni
15th Liverpool ST George
16th Leicester Uni
17th Birmingham Town Hall
18th Sheffield City Hall
19th Birmingham Town Hall. Review mentions these songs: 'We poor Labouring Folk' & 'Sweep Chimney Sweep'. The latter of course Martin would bring back in '77.
20th Barnsley Civic Centre
21st Newcastle City Hall
24th Croydon Greyhound
26th Norwich St Andrews Hall
27th Bournmouth Winter Garderns. 'Rag Folk' Festival

28th Oct. BBC Radio Sounds of the 70s with Pete Drummond. 
Per Radio Times synopsis: Radio 2's VHF channels join Radio 1 for two hours of progressive pop With Steeleye Span, Lindisfarme, Uriah Heep; Heads, Hands And Feet.

November - various gigs
5th: Salford Uni 
Four Nights Drunk, Jigs, Pace Egging Song, We Poor Labouring Men, When I Was On Horseback, Bring Em Down/Haul On The Bowline, Jigs, Gower Wassail, Lark In The Morning, Hornpipe (Pete & Maddy), My Johnny Was A shoemaker (Martin), Female Drummer, Encore: Jigs

6th: London L.S.E (Images below from Getty images)

9th: Guilford Civic Hall
 Cold Haily Windy Night (opener), Pace Egging Song (Ashley solo vocal with Pete and Martin on Banjo!), We Poor Labouring Men, Sweep Chimney Sweep, Handsome Polly O, Tim & Maddy - Medley of 3 unaccompanied short songs

11th: Cantebury, Kent Uni
20th: Cardiff Cory
Sat ? Leas Cliff Hall, Folkstone. (Thanks to Clive Pilcher)
26th: Brighton College of Education;
 Per 'Sounds' (and inferred from 17th Nov MM article) this was Tyger's last gig but 27th seems more likely given it's set list.

27th: Hull Uni.
The Wren, Pace Egging Song, Jigs, Saucy Sailor, We Poor Labouring Men, False Knight On The Road, Sweep Chimney Sweep, Dancing At Whitsun (Pete & Tim), Jigs, Maddy's Poem 'Hydranger', Rab Noake's song, Female Drummer, Encore: Uncle Tom Cobbly

Band Changes

Nov/Dec: Ashley Hutchings and Martin Carthy Leave the band

On 27th Nov it was announced that Ashley Hutchings was leaving the Band. Melody Maker had reported there were rumours he was leaving the week before to set up a new band with Shirley Collins. Internally he announced it during the October Tour. Tim Hart made it clear the band would continue. Maddy and Tim said it was because he didn't want to continue with the play 'Corunna' (A run had been lined up for the Autumn at the Old Vic) and because he didn't want to fly to America. For years Ashley said it was simply because he wanted to explore exclusively English traditional music rather than 'British', he said felt the music was becoming too 'Irish' and there was not enough English material. He said in '77 that Peter's interest was mainly Irish tunes and Maddy enjoyed exploring Scottish ballads, whereas he had recently discovered Morris Dancing tunes and wanted to explore those further. (Hence the Albion Band). Ashley indicated since that he just felt he had finished what he set out to achieve and the band had run its course, he felt the 3rd album was too 'safe' and not as experimental. 

Initially the band auditioned for a Bass player or a multi instrumentalist (a 'reed' player it was reported) and quite quickly Rick Kemp was asked to replace Ashley by Sandy Roberton, who knew Rick from session work. Rick agreed assuming that he would get the chance to play with Carthy. It is believed that this this line up did at least one experimental gig, either the 4th of Dec. or, if it didn't include Martin, maybe the Leyton Hall gig below. Rick also said he did a couple of gigs with Maddy & Tim, when Peter "Just happened to wander along". Could also be the Leyton one.

Rick may have done some further dates in December after the 'experimental' one. A review in Birmingham Daily post suggests he did, and in NME (below) it said that Rick will 'sit in on some gigs' before Christmas, although articles when Carthy left suggested Rick and Bob would join after rehearsals in January. 

Martin Leaves

Subsequently Martin Carthy announced he is leaving at the end of the year, (5th Dec - NME). Carthy made it clear it was amicable and suggested it was because for him the 'balance' of the band was not right after Hutchings left. Subsequently it was confirmed that it was mainly because he did not want a Bass player to replace Ashley, rather he wanted a Multi Instrumentalist to explore different sounds. The others disagreed and Martin felt it appropriate that he leave as he was in the minority. Peter suggested Bob Johnson as a replacement for Martin, with whom he worked with as a duo. The public announcement of Carthy leaving and Rick and Bob joining were made at the same time.

3rd Album: Ten Man Mop or Mr Reservoir Butler Rides Again

The album was slated for a 3rd December release by B&C Records (produced by Sandy Roberton). However, issues with the sleeve (or because of the split, both reasons were reported) meant that it was not actually available until January 7th '72. As the 'official' release date was 1971 it is usually shown as a December 1971 album.

Click on image for details & song by song review

The swansong album from the Mk II line up was similar to the last with traditional material in an 'Electric Folk' style. 'Easier to listen to....much neater' as Ashley put it, but for him not as interesting as 'Please to see the King' so he felt that he had done what he had set out to achieve - part of his reason for leaving. The luxury packaging of the original LP, coupled with a lack of chart success compared to the last one, led to frequent comments that the band did not make any money on the Album, but this has since been refuted. Interestingly very little from this album was heard live, the few gigs after its release focused on the existing set list.

A 'Mop' is a hiring fair and 'Reservoir Butler' was a traditional singer of one of the songs. 'General Taylor' is an outtake from the recording sessions and appears on various collections. At the time Tim said they intended to have an unaccompanied song on the album but recorded it, listened to it, and didn't like it. Rave On was also excluded, because it 'it would have been out of context'

Newspaper advert

December - various gigs -  Per MM article no Ashley from this point and 'band intend to play as a 4 piece'

3rd Dec Stockport College of Technology
4th Dec Birmingham Town Hall. 'Diamond Jubilee Folk-In' Gig
Birmingham Daily post says the band are still 'numbed' by recent departure of Ashley, and the 'imminent departure of Martin' It also says "Rick Kemp, Ashley's replacement was 'introduced' so this, or more likely the Leyton Hall one below could be the 'experimental' gig that this line up did with Rick.

 Unknown date in December: 
Leyton Town Hall - "almost Steeleye" line up of Maddy Prior, Tim Hart & Rick Kemp. Could also be the 'experimental' gig so not actually a Steeleye gig as such.

16th London College of Printing . 
Included Sweep Chimney Sweep, Wee Weaver & Saucy Sailor. Definitely played as a quartet. Bob was in the audience.

17th Little Theatre Middlesbrough. 
Martin Carthy's last gig with this line up.

18th Dec. MM article says Rick has been practising with the band using wah wah peddles on the Bass and playing more melodically than Ashley. 

11th Dec: NME Article - Interview with Tim. An informative piece at this important time for the band and an ideal way to finish the story of these first 2 years.  It is also confirmed that Tim & Maddy stopped taking bookings at this point. 

"Hard on behind Tyger Hutchings' departure from Steeleye Span the band is to lose Martin Carthy at Christmas. So, when they play 'London college of Printing', Elephant and Castle next Thursday (16), just who will be performing? Tim Hart and Maddy Prior, of cause, and Peter Knight and Martin Carthy, who will still be with the line-up for a short while longer. "But there's just a chance," Tim Hart told me, "that we'll have our new bass player Rick Kemp sitting in with us on the gigs between now and Christmas." Rick, who played with Mick Chapman, will definitely join Steeleye, it was announced last week. Bob Johnson, who plays guitar, mandolin tenor banjo, and who was once half a duo with Peter Knight, will be Steeleye's other member. "Maddy and I," said Tim, "have already worked out half a dozen numbers with Peter and Rick. So there's only Bob to work in."
The half-dozen songs are from Tim and Maddy's duo repertoire. There have been persistent rumours that both would split, causing a total breakdown of the Span line-up. Tim firmly denies the suggestion. "Maybe," he said, "The confusion's arisen because Maddy and I have decided not to work as a duo for a while. We've been doing so much with the band we haven't had time to develop, as we'd like to. You get stale. While we're resting as a duo, we'll look at new repertoire, and we certainly intend to resume as a duo at a later stage. Some of our best duo repertoire is going into the band, where it'll be worked in and arranged."
"Martin's departure, like Tyger's, is quite amicable. We'll miss him, but it won't stop us doing the sort of trad songs we've always done; Bob Johnson will be quite able to take the melody lines, and the rest of us have always put in the harmonies. I can't see any great changes in our approach when Bob replaces Martin." "It's actually very difficult to say exactly what the new band will be doing, because we've so far had just one day's rehearsal together. We begin to work seriously at the beginning of January."


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