Now We are Six, Now we are famous.
8th Feb. B side Mooncoin Jig. Didn't chart but did get good Radio airplay as a result of the success of Gaudete. No Picture Sleeve with UK release,
27th Feb was the date of the 1st tournament, held as a promotional event before each tour, held in London vs the Music Press. There was also a US (1st July) & Australian running of the event in '74 during each tour, and a 2nd in the UK in 1975 (Unknown date). For the record Peter Knight was the keen darts player in the band! The event was also used to promote the forthcoming album - Now We are Six. Steeleye won every time.
The role Ian Anderson had on the album was been 'downgraded' in more recent interviews by the band. Maddy said "We had recorded most of the album with Robin Black and Ian came in an mixed it..I have a feeling he edited Thomas the Rhymer to create the single version...But Ian would have bought his sensibilities to the album, maybe something in the overall sound"
It has also been noted by Ian ,that along with Thomas the Rhymer, the only other track he said he had much impact on was 'Seven Hundred Elves'. There is contradictory statements about how David Bowie came to be involved but below is what Ian said about it.
In 1974 I was asked by British folk group Steeleye Span to try to get David Bowie to play alto saxophone on a track I was producing for them. Somehow, although we didn’t know each other, I managed to get his phone number and he agreed to come to the session. In prompt and professional fashion he executed the desired solo lines and went on his way with the recorded words, “I’ll see you later.”NIGEL PEGRUM has a more mundane version: "..we wanted a Sax, so, jokingly, someone said 'what about Bowie'. Someone else had his office phone number - the guy laughed but relayed the message because Bowie phoned back the next day and said yes he would like to do it"
Many years later in 1997, I managed to push my way past minder heavies into his dressing room at a big German TV show we were both appearing on. I thanked him for playing on the Steeleye song and, more importantly, for serving as a role model to me in regard to offering the gift of music with no fee or royalty for performing on other artists’ records, something I have always done since.
He looked at me thoughtfully and said, “I’d forgotten about that. I suppose it’s too late to send in an invoice?” This while smiling a dazzling smile with his new and perfect teeth. "
March : Irish Tour
6th Mch: Cork, Savoy Cinema
7th Limerick, Savoy Cinema
8th Dublin Stadium
March US Tour to support 'Yes' for final week fell through. And then a US Tour which was to come after the Support also fell through.
17th Mch: BBC Radio 'Sounds on Sunday'
1/ 20th March: Thoresby Great Hall, Notts. Re-Broadcast in 1975. Audio Bootlegs exist. Gaudete played over the opening titles One Misty Moisty Morning; Hares on the Mountain; Cam Ye O'er Frae France; Alison Gross; Two Magicians; Musical Priest/Silver Spear; Saucy Sailor.
2/ 27th March: Warwick Castle. Never re-broadcast. Rogues in a Nation; Thomas the Rhymer; Drink Down the Moon; Mooncoin Jig; Sheepcrook and Black Dog; Royal Forester.
3/ 3rd April: Penshurst Place: Re-broadcast in 1975 and on BBC4 on 21st November 2008 straight after Maddy Prior at the Electric Proms. The only episode shown recently by the BBC. There appears to be miming in places but apparently the whole episode involved numerous re-takes. 'Summer is A Coming In'; 'Seven Hundred Elves'; 'Long-a-Growing'; 'Edwin'; 'Morris Tunes' with the Albion Morris Men'; 'Little Sir Hugh'; 'Peascod Time'.
13th Apr Hanover, Germany with Camel & Manfred Mann
14th Apr Hamm, Germany with Camel & Manfred Mann
16th Apr Westfalenhalle, Dortmund, Germany
April - Switzerland. Appearance on Swiss TV as part of 'Kaleidospop'
Exact date or location not known. 25 minutes of highlights is available to 'buy' online from [very] 'grey' video sites. Listed as part of the 'Nyon Folk festival' but that does not seem to have started until 1976 so I think it has been incorrectly labelled. It is however a very rare and welcome piece of footage of the band at this time. I have uploaded the videos below to Youtube (see below). (A Youtube Playlist of all 5 is HERE)
May/June. Introduction of 'Mummers Play' . support: Gryphon
The bands first tour since Nov '73 and with the success of Gaudete, The TV series and the new album it set the band up for playing in larger venues in their biggest tour to date. The big Albert Hall gig (Where once again Ted Heath watched Steeleye) included an encore of a "Sea Medley" of patriotic songs including Hearts of Oak and Rule Britannia. The band dressed up for the encore with Maddy as a Nurse, Pete a soldier, Bob a Vicar, Nigel as a Boy Scout and Tim as a deep sea diver! The medley appeared for a while in the set, including the following US tour.
SET LIST: Based on Newcastle.,'700 Elves' and 'BlackLeg Miner' were also in the set list for some venues. The new album was represented with 4/5 songs in the set, and virtually all of the tracks were included the 'Electric Folk' TV series, including 'Little Sir Hugh' which had to wait until the next album to appear.
12th May Manchester Free Trade Hall
13th Sheffield City Hall
14th Liverpool Empire
15th Edinburgh Usher Hall
16th Hull City Hall
17th Glasgow Apollo. With Gryphon. Date added later. £1.25 (up from £1.20 in '73!)
18th Newcastle City Hall. Set List above. From bootleg (The only Non-USA one available for '74).
20th / 21st Albert Hall. Included Mummers Play. (2nd date added after 1st sold out in one day)
Mummers' Play, Alison Gross, Cam Ye O'er Frae France, John Barleycorn, Little Sir Hugh, Summer Is A-Coming In, Gaudete, Two Magicians, Edwin, 700 Elves, Drink Down The Moon, Thomas The Rhymer, Sea Medley (Encore) (NME Review)
22nd Cardiff Capitol
23rd Portsmouth Guildhall
24th Bristol Colston Hall
25th Brighton Dome
26th Coventy Theatre
27th Birmingham Hippodrome
29th Bournmouth Winter Gardens
31st Eastbourne Congressdate added later
1st June Bradford St George's Hall
4-6th June - Filming at Rainbow Theatre, London for American 'ABC-TV In Concert' series.
June: CashBox (US Trade) Newspaper article (15th June): Steeleye have filmed 'ABC-TV In Concert' segments at the Rainbow Theatre, London.. "for showing later this Summer on the "Wide World of Entertainment" Series. The Steeleye show will be seen while the group are touring the States". It was filmed between 4th-6th June along with other bands (3 bands a day were recorded) especially for TV. I can't 100% identify when or actually if this show was shown. The mystery is that the other bands were all shown during July and August on ABC but seemingly not Steeleye (or at least not listed on the programme description). All we can hope is that it was filmed and may surface one day.
Dutch Tour -"a week in Holland straight after British tour" per article.
3rd: Geleen, Limburg, Holland : PinkPopFestival 1974
With Status Quo, Steve Harley, Rory Gallagher. It was shown on TV or Radio in Holland but no recording has been heard. There are some short clips of Steeleye on Youtube from a home video but with no sound. Listed as playing at 4pm, after Status Quo and before Rory Gallagher who headlined. 32,200 attended. Photos below. Included Mummers Play.
4th June: De Lantaren, Rotterdam. 8.30pm 2nd appearance the next day on their own (Dutch newspaper archive)
6th Groningen (from Dutch Newspaper Archive)
June/July (7 weeks). A 4th US Tour after 'successful' tours in 1973. Although it was noted by Tim in an article that those tours had cost the band $45,000. After a Spring tour was cancelled, the band return to the US for probably their most successful and longest tour of the US. This time they were mainly headlining, got featured in a number of newspaper articles and had a Press Party in NY for the first time. They featured on live radio broadcasts and so were hoping would actually make some money, or at least break even according to Tim, who described the tour as... "a real gamble, you lay out a lot of money. If audiences don't like you, you lose. But if you break America, the rewards are much bigger". He said Headlining was the potential difference between $5k fee vs a $750 support slot. The tour included Mummers Play in some venues. With live recordings of concerts in the 70's rare this tour provides a good opportunity to hear the band at their 'peak' via unofficial off air FM radio recordings.
12th/14th?? Shubert Theatre, Philadelphia. An article mentioned that their first date (and another article on the 18th May one said 14th, and named the theatre so I think is accurate) would be here on 12th.
14th June Stampede Corral, Calgary, Canada.
Included James Gang, Goose Creek. I don't think this one happened and was replaced with the concert above but can't be sure.
17th & 18th Performance Center @ The Garage in Harvard Square, Cambridge,MA. $6 tickets.
19th Woolman Ice Rink, Central Park, NY.
(Thanks Karl). This part of the 'Schaefer Festival. Steeleye stepped in for the ill John Sebastian and a review said that Steeleye, "acting out a Mummer play in the middle of the set" were "exceptionally entertaining"
?th Berklee College of Music, Boston (on this tour but may not sure of date)
21st Academy of Music, Broad and Locust Streets, Phili.
22nd Penn State University Recreation Hall, University Park, PA. Plus Rainbow Canyon. $2.50.
24th Roxy Theatre, Northampton.
26th 'The Joint in the Woods' (!) , Parsippany New Jersey.
27th Kennedy Centre, Washington. Support to King Crimson.
30th Palace Theatre, Providence. Support to King Crimson.
1st July Ebbet's Field, Denver;
Bootleg: We Beg Your Leave; Tunes; Alison Gross; Cam Ye; John Barleycorn; Little Sir Hugh; Drink Down the Moon/The Cuckoo; Two Magicians; Robbery with Violins; Summer is a Comin In; Staines Morris; One Misty Moisty Morning; Gaudete; Thomas the Rhymer; The Musicial Priest; Sea Shanties; The Royal Forester; The Mason's Apron.
2nd- 4th July: New York, Bottom Line.
Broadcast on WNYU FM. Off-air recordings are around. Beg Your Leave; Jigs; Alison Gross; Cam Ye O'er Frae France; John Barleycorn; Little Sir Hugh; Two Magicians; Saucy Sailor; Robbery with Violins; Summer is a Comin In; Staines Morris; One Misty Moisty Morning; Gaudete; Thomas the Rhymer; Jigs; Nautical Medley; Royal Forester; Jigs.
6th July Lenox, MA, The Music Inn. MA.
Part of a 'Twilight Concerts "On the Lawn" Headlined by Doc Watson. 2,500 people. Bootleg (seems to be off-air radio Broadcast). We Beg Your Leave-Tunes; Alison Gross; Cam Ye O'er Frae France; Little Sir Hugh; Two Magicians; Robbery With Violins; Mummers Play (part); Gaudete; Jigs; Royal Forester; The Masons Apron.
7th July Denver, Ebbets Field Club.
10th-13th July Richards' Club, Atlanta Residency. (Pictures below).
16th 'thru' 20th. Ebbets Field, Denver. Return for a residency.
22nd & 23rd July 'The Medium' Club, Chicago.
There is a 30 minute 'WXRT Chicago' Radio broadcast (25th Aug) that is available as a pretty good off-air recording which seems to have been recorded at this venue. We Beg Your Leave/Jigs; Alison Gross; John Barleycorn; Little Sir Hugh; Gaudete; Thomas the Rhymer; The Musical Priest; Sea Shanties; Royal Forester; The Mason's Apron
24th July: Moore Theatre, Seattle. (Tim Hart Audio interview below)
1st Aug Santa Monica, Civic Auditorium.
In a review they 'wowed' the audience with a two hour show full of costume changes and had encore after encore. We Beg Your Leave; Alison Gross; Cam Ye O'er Frae France; John Barleycorn; Little Sir Hugh; Drink Down the Moon; The Cuckoo; Two Magicians; Robbery With Violins; Summer Is Acumen In; Staines Morris; One Misty Moisty Morning; Gaudete; Thomas the Rhymer; The Musical Priest; Sea Shanties; Royal Forester; The Mason's Apron
Above pictures by the late great Mark Edward Askren and are from the Richards Club in Atlanta.
Tim Hart Interview. (24th July)
A recent upload to Youtube is an audio interview with Tim during the US tour which gives further insight into the bands dissatisfaction with their commercial success in the US..." America is great, we always get great reaction but its very difficult to consolidate the success in the theatre with overall success in record sales.. we are all really pissed off with the record company..we are going out and doing our bit and getting great reactions in the halls, but then that's it, until we come through again no one is going to hear off us because the record company is asleep in LA....we were in LA for 3 days and didn't see anyone from the record company..the minute we go back to England they forget all about us.
'Selected US Dates' .
'On their way back from Australia'? No other mentions apart from All Around My Hat programme
September / October / November
After continuous touring since early May the band took a well deserved rest for most of Sept/Oct but still managed to find time to record 'Commoners Crown' at Morgan Studios in London. Peter Sellers recorded on the 19th October. Some fun working titles for the album were 'Over The Top' and 'Poor But Famous'.
6th Oct Cockpit Theatre, London. NME - "Being filmed for a 'short Cinema feature'. See December below for likely performance.
26th Oct. NME article: ' 'Latest album … has now been completed'. Commissioned to re-arrange and record Z-Cars Theme for next series
Short Tour of Netherlands (With Stackridge)
30th Oct: De Lantaren, Rotterdam.
31st Oct Eindhoven
1st Nov Arnhem
2nd Nov Amsterdam
3rd Nov Sittard
Actually broadcast across various dates in Oct/Nov depending on network and repeated a few times in 1975.The footage does exist and is available to license. Filmed especially for the show, possibly at Long Beach Auditorium, LA but not confirmed.
Gaudete; Cam Ye O'er Frae France; Two Magicians; Royal Forester
It was mentioned in the All Around My Hat program that they did play some 'selected' US dates on their way home from the Australia tour above so this could be part of that but more likely filmed on the US Summer tour.
29 dates across November & December. Support: Richard Digance.
After a long world Tour the band were back in the UK with their biggest tour to date off the back of the successful 'Now We are Six' album, world tour and the Electric Folk TV series.
This tour also included a short award winning short 7 minute film depicting the story of 'The Bold Poachers' made by An American film maker ('Arden Films'), sadly not seen since. The Mummers Play is performed again, billed as 'A New Mummers play'.
This tour features the Rainbow Theatre show that is now available on the 2022 12 disc Chrysalis box set (click here for details)
Clive Davies, Lighting Manager, describes how the band were late for on stage for one of the the big Rainbow Theatre concerts "It was at the Rainbow Theatre. It was the tour that began with [Bold Poachers film]. Well how the show starts is with this sad film, as the film finished the stage goes dark and a recording of jig is played through the sound system and at a designated point in the track the lights come on full and the band have taken over from the track and it’s all very spectacular. Only problem was the band had not received there stage call and were all still in the dressing room. Never mind they finally got on stage and everyone had a great as Steeleye were a fantastic live band."
The set must have been quite surprising, and unfamiliar, for Steeleye fans. There are 4 songs from the upcoming Commoners Crown album (although Little Sir Hugh was on the last tour and the 'Electric Folk' series), one from 'Hat' (Wife of Ushers Well), the unreleased Mummers Play and 'Oh You Beautiful Doll'. Assuming the set list is complete then only 6 songs would have been familiar and only 2 from Now We are Six. Five of these six songs were also played on the Spring Now We Are Six tour, the exception is 'Ups and Downs'
There was a big celebratory concert at the Rainbow Theatre London with Peter Sellers.
8th Nov Norwich, East Anglia Uni. Late addition to tour. Was Loughborough which was moved
9th Nov Portsmouth, Guildhall
10th Ipswich, Gaumont
12th Southampton Gaumont
13th Cork Uni
14th Cardiff Capitol
15th Bristol Colston Hall.
New York Girls with Peter Sellers recorded (15th or 16th)
16th Loughborough Uni. This is the rearranged one
17th Nottingham Theatre Royal
18th Croydon Fairfield Hall. Included the 'Ups and Downs' and 'You Beautiful Doll'
19th Oxford New Theatre
20th Southport Theatre
21st Manchester Free Trade Hall
22nd Leeds Town Hall There are some great photos from this night on two Youtube videos - Alison Gross & Thomas the Rhymer (audio is from a bootleg - The Bottom Line, USA tour above)
24th Newcastle Upon Tyne City Hall
26th Sheffield City Hall
28th & 29th Nov London Rainbow Theatre.
Awarded silver discs for first 3 Chrysalis albums after this 'sell-out' concert (28th). Peter Sellers was meant to appear and reportedly did join them on stage (seen it referenced a couple of times)
It is from one of these two shows that the live recording in the 2022 Chrysalis Box Set is from.
1st Dec Peterborough ABC
2nd Brighton the Don
4th Liverpool Empire Theatre
5th Edinburgh Usher Hall
6th Glasgow Apollo.
7th Chester ABC
8th Birmingham Hippodrome
9th Leicester Demontford Hall
11th Uxbridge Bruenl Uni. Extra date. 'Final date in this country for a year'
13th Cork City Hall
14th Dublin Stadium
15th(?) Dublin University (not sure on date but makes sense to be this day)
During this tour the band played 'Oh You Beautiful Doll' (for which Peter wrote the barber's shop arrangement) with Maddy dressed up, plus blonde wig, while Nigel serenaded her!
A change in management led to a quiet few months before...'All Around Mike Batt'
Produced the by the band and Robin Black and released in January it reached 21 in UK Charts on 15th Feb. Famous for featuring Peter Sellers on the Ukulele on 'New York Girls', It's the album that never toured because Jo Lustig leaving meant that a 'quiet' few months was needed while his contract ran out. It was then followed so soon by 'Hat' so never got its own proper run out. Little Sir Hugh (Bob) was already being played in previous tours and Long Lankin (Bob) and Demon Lover (arranged by Rick) featured heavily during '75.
"Well it was, you know, as you say time, it was a wacky period and anything went. We were doing this little sea shanty and we needed some ukulele on it and I remembered I had heard 'Peter Sellers' playing ukulele on a old album 'Songs For Swingin' Sellers', I had when I was a little boy, because I was a big fan of 'Peters' and I thought this will be a hoot, let's ask him along, so we did and lo he said yes, some what puzzled I remember he was very tense and puzzled in the studio because he couldn't play very well and he was sort of wondering why he was there and we were all sitting in the booth beginning to feel tense and puzzled and wondering why he was there and suddenly, I think to relieve the tension he went (Goon noises) all over the track, we all fell about, everybody rolled on the floor clutching their sides and suddenly we knew that's why he was there.”
24th April: Hastings Pier Pavilion
Below are some unique colour photo's of the band on stage at Hastings Pier, their first live appearance since December . These great photos are reproduced with kind permission by Chris Meachen who took the photos on the day, thanks Chris.
26th April Hammersmith, Odeon
It was noted that this was an isolated gig and their first since last Autumn (although the above appearance at Hastings Pier was). They were guests of the 'Tartan Brewery Student's' National Rock and Folk Contest Finals. They performed Bachelors Hall; Long Lankin; Cam Ye O'er Frae France and Spotted Cow (Reggae) as the encore
This song which premiered this year stayed in the set until at least the 2nd series of Electric Folk. Maddy has highlighted it as an example of their willingness to experiment over the years - although she later commented "We did try a reggae 'Spotted Cow' and we weren't terribly convinced by it, so we stopped doing it." ! Here is an exclusive clip of the song which has never been made available.
May: Tony Secunda becomes manager.
Also marked the beginning of more involvement of Adrian Hopkins, In-House Chrysalis promoter who also ended up managing the band for nearly 20 years after Tony.
May: Filming 2nd Series of 'Electric Folk' . See September below.
12th May: Manchester Free Trade Hall. (per Steve Hardy)
7th June. Steeleye featured at one the years biggest regular Summer concerts, probably one of Steeleye's biggest festival appearances in their history. They were 2nd on bill to Steve Harley.
The concert was the introduction of 'Mr Steeleye', an actor dressed as a jester with a cloak and mask, who would dance on stage with Maddy. He tried to join Maddy on the boat (the stage was right in front of a lake) but fell in and unfortunately had to call for help as he couldn't swim!
A couple of reviews from those in the crowd from the excellent 'ukrockfestivals.com' website
[Alan] Without a doubt a doubt the Spans stole the show. They were awesome and Peter Knight did an amazing electric violin solo with tons of echo used to maximum effect. Everyone, and I mean everyone was dancing.
I ended up about 50 yards from where i'd been sitting. I've been a fan ever since.
[Rick] Steeleye were superb and Maddy Prior was on top form with her singing and step dancing. I remember there being a boat on the lake and Maddy stepping into it and singing whilst being rowed across the lake. It was very hot.
24th June: TV Appearance on 'Rockpalast' . WDR TV Studio-L Köln. Germany. This is a 'made for TV' live concert lasting nearly an hour recorded at the WDR studios for the 'Rockpalast' TV series that ran for many years. I have uploaded it to YouTube (and see below) and it offers a superb high quality, intimate and amazing visual record of the band at their peak. There is literally nothing else of this quality available of the band live in the 70's.
Note this is not connected to the 'German TV' appearance that is on Youtube for 'All Around My Hat' ('Musikladen' aired 6th March 1976)
Sum Waves/Devil's Dream; Royal Forester; Little Sir Hugh; Long Lankin; Demon Lover; Gaudete; Cam Ye O'er Frae France; Thomas the Rhymer; Musical Priest/Silver Spear
6th July. Blackpool Festival. Football Ground (w. Roy Harper).
All Around My Hat played for 1st time (confirmed by Bob Johnson). Played Bachelor's Hall, Dance With Me and Spotted Cow (Reggae) as well.
In July the band started recording with Mike Batt on the album that would make the band a household name. The use of Mike was seen a major step to potential commercial success with a crossover folk/pop sound. Tim Hart had heard the Wombles album and thought he would be an ideal producer for Steeleye, although the band took some convincing. They had however been looking for a producer for a while but previous management had never sorted it out so Tim stepped him to find one. They gave Mike "Full reign" over production for the 1st time. For years it was rumoured that Steeleye once dressed up as Wombles and over the years it has been confirmed with Mike Batt giving the full account below....
The story of Steeleye becoming the Wombles on Top of the Pops (24th July).
From Mike Batt's unpublished autobiog:
I was working on “All Around My Hat” with Steeleye Span, at the time the "Superwomble" single was released. In those days, to be on Top Of The Pops you had to mime, (it was technically easier for the show if you did, and in any case we Wombles had no option, - we didn’t have mouths!) - but to satisfy the Musicians’ Union you had to remake the entire record the night before your appearance, - in other words you were not allowed to mime to the record itself, but you were allowed to mime to a specially made track for the show. I could spend two pages explaining why, but trust me, that’s how it was.
So I’m in Air Studios with Steeleye Span when the message comes through that the Wombles are on Top Of The Pops the following day, with no time to go and make a bloody backing track, - I was busy with Steeleye. So I ask Steeleye if they’d mind playing the TV remake of “Superwomble", because the bloke from the Musicians’ Union was about to show up and “witness” that it was indeed being remade, and they sportingly agreed to do it. I taught them the track and we played it while the infamous Don Smith from the Musicians’ Union (known, as I have said earlier, as “Doctor Death” because of his miserable demeanour and intransigent attitude) watched from the control room. After the session, Don asked for everybody’s name. “Why do you want them?” I asked. “Because the people who play the track have to be the same people who are on the show tomorrow” says Don. This was a new one on me. But that’s what had to happen. Don left the studio and I sheepishly asked the guys if they’d wear the costumes the next day, and perform “Superwomble” on the show. Of course the whole thing would have to be a total secret – it wouldn’t have been cool for a serious band like Steeleye to be caught being the Wombles. They thought it was a fantastic idea, and so we arranged for them to meet the following evening, - the night of the show - at the Kensington Hilton Hotel, get into the costumes and be taken by blacked-out limo to the TV Centre in Wood Lane, five minutes away. We managed to get them in, do the show and then get them out again without anyone realising it had been them inside the Womble costumes.
"Great Uncle Bulgaria, playing a great big Hohner harmonica was Pete Knight, the guitarist was Bob Johnson, the drummer was Nigel Pegrum, Rick Kemp was there… but I’ve got a feeling Maddy Prior wasn’t in it. I think it was just the boys."
This is the episode they appeared on.
Included Mummers Play again.
On this tour the band recorded a promo video for the yet to be released 'All Around My Hat'. This video has appeared a couple of times on Youtube but has been removed. The video was the band mining to the song on a very windy boat in Sydney!
It was on this Australian tour that Tony Secunda caused a 'front page scandal' with an innocent PR stunt. During a Radio interview he offered a competition in which he promised a 'night of love' with any male member of the Group to the winner. The national press picked up the story - and the Group landed in a 'hysterical furore' involving Church, State and police authorities. It was denounced in one editorial as "disgusting, degrading" and advised the Group "to abandon their sordid plan to degrade Australian Womanhood or get out of the Country". The Church urged parents not to allow their children to the concert! In the event, embarrassment was saved when the winner, a 22 year old librarian chose Bob as her 'prize' and the outrage turned out to be nothing more sinister than a Champagne dinner at a Sydney Nightclub - the Group invited along Linda's boyfriend as well. Both said they had a great time.
A second series of the Electric Folk series and with 2 episodes from the 1st series also being shown it was a 5 week run for the band on BBC2. It has been noted that this series may have involved more miming as the presentation may have been more like Top of the Pops where the vocals were live but to a pre recorded backing track. Audio bootlegs exist but no video recording have surfaced and none have been re-broadcast. All episodes however do exist in the BBC archive so maybe one day...
Each episode was shown at around 10.45pm on BBC2. There was talk in the press of a 3rd series but it did not materialise.
17th Sept: The New Inn, Gloucester: (Pictured)
Bach Goes Limerick/Devils dream; Demon Lover; Cadgwith Anthem; Ups and Downs; Bachelors Hall; Beautiful Doll; Galtee Farmer.
24th Sept: Rivington Hall Barn, Lancs;
I beg your leave; Elf Call; Wife of Ushers Well; Lyke Wake Dirge; Mummers Play (revived just for this show) Dance with me; Sum Waves/Devils Dream.
8th Oct: Raby Castle, Durham: (Pictured).
Long Lankin; Dogs and Ferrets; New York Girls; Rosebud in June; Gamble Gold & Robin Hood; [Stanley Unwin- Tour Guide]; One Misty Moisty Morning; Spotted Cow ('Reggae')/ Masons Apron
Released on 3rd October, right in the middle of the Electric Folk TV series, it was the Album (and single) that made the band a Household name. The first album produced by Mike Batt who took the band in a 'Folk Pop' direction and into the top ten of the album and singles charts. It was well promoted and entered charts on 1st Nov and reaching No.7 and stayed in the top 20 for 11 weeks. It sold over 250,000 copies while in the charts. It was a triumphant mix of folk and pop sensibilities that has never before or since successfully been achieved by any other band. Nigel Pegrum indicated in an interview that going in a more 'pop' direction was a reaction to the Commoners Crown not doing as well as Now We Are 6.
The cover was not deemed a success though: (NME review) "The sleeve displays grossly-distorted portraits of the members of the band and employs a device known as Anomorphic projection. This means that if you hold the sleeve and a second piece of cardboard in a certain juxtaposition and squint your eye in a particularly painful way, and if It's the last quarter of the moon and it hasn't rained for three days, you might just see the band portrayed normally, as indeed they could have been in the first place. Cheap 'n' nasty gimmickry? You bet yer bodhran it is."
On 25th Oct The album hit the top 40, finally reaching No. 7 on UK ALBUM Charts on 29th Nov
Supported by the success of the single, the album charted for 20 weeks and in the top 20 for 11 weeks up to 10th Jan.
5th Oct ABC, Chester.
6th Glasgow Apollo. £1.50, up from £1.25 in '74!
7th Endingburgh Usher Hall
8th Aberden Capital
10th Salford Uni
11th York Uni
13th Brighton Dome
14th Oxford New Theatre
15th Reading Uni
16th Cambrige Uni
19th Coventry Theatre
20th Newcastle Town Hall (£1.75)
21st Peteborough ABC
23rd Portsmouth Guildhall. Cancelled as Maddy had flu and held on 7th Nov
25th Cardiff Capital
26th Bristol Colston Hall
27th Leicester De Montfort w.Allan Taylor
28th Hammersmith Odeon - Played Spotted Cow (Reggae) and Blowing Bubbles per Review. Also Maddy said Bob and Peter have a 'project' on at the moment' (probably of 'King Of Elflands Daughter' - Album they completed in '77 after saying it took 3 years to write).
29th Hammersmith Odeon
31st Sheffield Uni
1st Nov Manchester Trade hall
2nd Birmingham Odeon
3rd Liverpool Odeon:
Sum Waves/Royal Forester, Black Jack Davy, Bachelor's Hall, Two Magicians, Long Lankin, Spotted Cow (Reggae), I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles, All Around My Hat, Wife Of Ushers Well, Dance With Me, Hard Times Of Old England, Reels: Black Joke/Sligo Maid, Encore: You Won't See Me, Mason's Apron, When Will I Be Loved
4th Abersytwyth Uni
5th Swansea Brangwyn Hall
7th Portsmouth Guildhall
Seen as a traditional 'folk' band, there was significant musical press attention for Steeleye due to the success of the both the album and single. There were various front page headlines/articles throughout December.
Nov 19th/20th. Maddy in Brussels Recording with Jethro Tull. Starts to indicate work (along with Bob and Peter's project) that band members had started doing outside the band. This ultimately started the path to the break up of the band ('77) while why they explored other musical interests.
November European Tour (dates missing)
Halden - Norway. Nigel became ill , apparently collapsed during a dinner. they play All Around My Hat, Long Lankin, Hard Times Of Old England, Spotted Cow (Reggae) but drop Dance With Me and Ushers Well
German leg of tour- cancelled as Nigel had sever gastro
1st Dec Colston Hall, Bristol 2nd Dec MusicHalle, Hamburg (with Amazing Blundell)
24 Dec. Dutch TV, channel 'Duitsland III'. ('Germany III') 4.30pm 'A performance by Steeleye Span'. no other details. As a German TV station in Holland it could just be a repeat of the Rockpalast appearance.
27th Dec: 'The Mad Modern Mummers' or 'Dr. Frankenstein meets the SS' (aka Steeleye Span)
"The Mad, Modern Mummers in spectacular stereophonic, seasonal entertainment, (or is alliteration going out of fashion?) with Maddy Prior, Tim Hart, Robert Johnson, Rick Kemp, Peter Knight, Nigel Pegram as themselves and featuring Stanley Unwin, Rita Webb, Paul Burnett and Tim Burge in a variety of parts."
Very much 'of it's time'. Includes the rare track 'I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles'.
9th Jan: Crackerjack (Below)
10th Jan: DUTCH TV: 'TOPPOP' (Below)
14th Jan: 'Nana Mouskouri Show' (copies exist but not on Youtube)
6th March: German TV , MusikLaden (recently taken down from YouTube)
(B side: Cadgwith Anthem, and later, Sum Waves) Released 30th Jan, the follow up single to 'Hat' failed to be anywhere near as successful. This could be when the band started to realise that, commercially at least, they could not get any bigger. Still no UK picture sleeve.
NME AWARDS: Commoner's Crown wins 'Best Designed British Album Sleeve'. Pictured is the original actual crown made for the album!
17th March Friars at Vale Hall, Aylesbury. With 'Unicorn.
The band practised and played 'The Up's and Downs' especially for the concert as the Town is the 'home' of the song. Interesting articles and pictures about the concert are on this LINK.
'Silly Sisters' (Maddy Prior and June Tabor) Album and Tour. (Chrysalis).
On 4th April Maddy embarked on a small 10 date tour with June Tabor. Chrysalis wanted Maddy to work on a separate project and so the idea came up to work with June (& Nic Jones; Carthy; Andy Irvine; Johnny Moynihan & Danny Thompson.) Although proving very popular with folk fans, Chrysalis didn't seem keen on a proper tour, hence a short tour at some odd venues, including a couple of disco's/Clubs! On the 22nd April they appeared on the BBC Radio 2 Wally Whyton show: 'Both Sides Now'.
This collaboration further hinted that the band were starting to look outside of Steeleye. Bob and Peter had started to work on 'Elflands', Tim Hart produced the 'Spriguns' Album and Nigel sett up 'Plant Life Records'. It all added weight to the rumours that were circulating for the potential imminent end of the band, especially as they had largely been inactive since promoting All Around My Hat.
May: European Tour
"During late April and May Steeleye Span will play a series of concerts and TV shows in Scandinavia, Holland, Belgium, Germany and France" (Silly Sisters Press Release). Most dates so far are from the Finland leg.
29th Apr Turun Konsertisali, Turku, Finland
30th Finlandia-talo, Helsinki,Finland. 'Full House'
1st May Kalannissa, Finland.
w/c 8th May Steeleye are here for "Concert House show TV and Radio", Stockholm. This could be the dates below so one source is slightly out on the dates.
3rd May Konserthuset, Stockholm. Included 'I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles'.
4th May Studio 4 Radiohuset, Stockholm
5th May Gothenburg, Sweden
7th Aarhus, Denmark
8th (or 9th) May: Groningen, Holland. Listed in newspaper in Holland
13th May: Birmingham Odoen. This was an extra date to replace a planned 2nd concert here in the last tour. W. R.Digance
June: Rehearsed and recorded Rocket Cottage at Frans Peters Studios, Hilversum, Holland (For Tax reasons). It was recorded in just over a week working 12-14 hour days. The pictures on the back were taken at 'Hank's Bar' outside the studio.
20th June Newcastle City Hall, with Five Hand Reel. Part of Newcastle Festival.
Headlining at a series of European Summer Festivals
3rd July: Roskilde Festival, Roskilde, Denmark. Large festival with a 32,000 crowd. 2nd Headline behind Dr Hook. Played Sligo Maid.
?th July Heidelberg. 2 songs exist as what sound like an off-air radio broadcast. Hard Times of Old England; Black Jack Davy.
24th July: Parkhall, Wakes Folk Festival 1976. Advert exists so we can be 99% sure of date.
13th Aug: Jazz-Bilzen , Bilzen, Belgium. Click here for a review of the weekend
Australia & Far East tour planned but did not happen. Per cutting they 'kick off 6 months off with a tour of 'Far East & Australia'. Whilst this never took place, Maddy did tour Australia with June Tabor as 'Silly Sisters'
September Europe tour? Per programme "European tour in September". Included 5 dates in Germany (per US Trade Paper dated 9th Oct)
Sept. b side Sligo Maid. Taken from the upcoming album it was not as successful as 'Hat', probably due to music at the time moving in a new direction. A Liverpool Echo reviewer said: "The band look set for a certain No.1 with their inventive and Melodic treatment of the traditional song London". Ah well, nice thought. Melody written by Rick as a potential single because the Record Label had said 'We'll have another one of those, please'!Original promo video below
Released on 24th Sept. A follow up to All Around My Hat was always going to be difficult. Although still produced by Batt, it is not a Hat clone and quite experimental in places, but the failure to find a single, different style and a sense of it being rushed, and then not well promoted by Chrysalis all meant it 'only' got to No.41 in the charts. All the songs are broadly traditional arrangements with melodies written by Steeleye for most tracks.
The band played a live concert during an afternoon in front of a live audience. They broadcast 'Black Jack Davy' and 'Cam Ye o'er Frae France'. It certainly looks like a longer concert was performed so maybe the full footage will exist somewhere. Probably recorded earlier in the year as there are some Finnish dates in April above.
Below is the footage of 'Cam Ye' and 'Black Jack Davy'. A very rare glimpse of the band live at their peak - very little live footage of this line up is available from the 70's that was not 'made for TV'. It also includes an extremely rare TV interview with the band, the only one seen from the 70's
Oct: NME: 'After 9 months of negotiation...Russian Tour has fallen through'. Was initially going to be in June '76 in 30 cities!
A world tour promoting Rocket Cottage, that would last for the rest of the year kicks off in the USA. This was the biggest and best coordinated 'World Tour' that the band undertook. It was well advertised and probably their largest ever in terms of Revenue. But it was also very hectic and after years of full time touring it was to prove too much for some of the band and led to a 6 month break in early 1977.
5th US tour in 4 years and the first for 2 years. Per Tim Hart the reason for the gap was the sacking of Joe Lustig and they spent 18 months in legal disputes, which meant no promoter or Label wanted to invest too much money in a US tour, they had to make do with touring Europe. A shorter tour than previously but very busy and seemed to get less press attention, another symptom of the music industry move to newer Rock/Punk music. But it was noted that almost every date was sold out. A much better organised and financed tour with the band actually making some money.
They decided to rent PA in each City rather than bringing their own, which in one review, was criticized as it made the sound harder to get balanced correctly (Maddy's voice too low in the mix).
For the first time on a US tour the band took a full crew. They were Clive Davies (Lighting Manager); Scott Thompson (Sound); Chris Coates (Backline and Stage Manager) and Bryan Grant (Tour Manager). Thanks Clive for this info . Clive toured with the band right through from 1974 to 1989 and has helped with a few stories for the website.
Reviews described the band as "having been around for a while and producing soft, funky Rock'. but also as being 'England's premier folk band, far out-distancing such groups as Fairport Convention and Pentangle". Maddy has since said that this period was just too stressful and soured the Steeleye experience and probably led to the break up. She sometimes performed 3 times a day.
A few of the concerts were broadcast on radio giving us some good quality unofficial off-air recordings, and now finally in May 2022 we got a full master recording from this tour by way of the 12cd Chrysalis box set (15th Oct Berklee Centre, Boston).
Dates hard to get but now confirmed by a Trade Newspaper advert.
1st-3rd Oct. Ebbets Field, Denver, Colorado
4th-7th Oct. Boarding House, San Francisco.
Featured Black Jack Davy; The Brown Girl; Sir James the Rose; London; Bosnian Hornpipe; I'm forever blowing Bubbles' ; Cam ye; Gaudete; Royal Forester; medley of jigs.
8th - 10th Oct Roxy Club, Los Angeles
13th Oct: The Backdoor @ San Diego State Uni. Not on tour advert so maybe additional date.
15th Oct Berklee Performance Centre, Boston MA.
Now available on the 12 disc Chrysalis Box Set. in pristine quality.
A bootleg with some of these tracks has been available for many years ('Cambridge Tape'/'Chrysalis Concert') and 8 tracks are on the well known 'Sunken Meadows' Bootleg listed as 'Christmas Special 1976', although unless it was a Radio showed aired again there is no reason to call it that.
London, Orfeo/Nathan's Reel, Hard Times Of Old England, Cam Ye O'er Frae France, Twelve Witches, Black Jack Davy, Gaudete, Brown Girl, I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles, The Wife Of Usher's Well, Sir James The Rose, Hornpipes/The Royal Forester, Eins, Zwei, Drei, The Black Joke/Sligo Maid, All Around My Hat/ The Mason's Apron.
16th Oct Tower Theatre, Upper Darby, PA.
There was due to be 2nd night on the 17th but it got cancelled by the venue last minute without the band being informed, even though ticket sales were good. In fact, I have seen it as listed in a weekly top grossing show list for that week - a crowd of 3,100. The band were annoyed as they could have stayed in Boston which could have been sold 4 times over according to an article.
18th & 19th Oct: 'Quiet Knight' Club, Chicago. WXRT Chicago FM Concert .
According to the label on an off-air recording it's believed that the radio broadcast was from this gig. It was broadcast 28th Nov '76, Thanks Lars for all this info! Gaudete; Black Jack Davy; Hard Times of England; 12 Witches; Orfeo/Nathan's Reel; Wife of Ushers Well; Brown Girl; Cam Ye O'er Frae France'; Tunes: The Black Joke-Sligo Maid; All Around My Hat; Jigs.
20th Oct: Appearance on Mike Douglas TV Show. Bosnian Hornpipes and London (see below)
22nd Oct Convocation Hall, Toronto, Canada
23rd Oct Capitol Theatre, Passaic, NJ
26th Oct Lisner Theatre, Washington:
Bootleg: London;Orfeo; Hard Times of Old England; Black Jack Davy; Wife of Ushers Well; Gaudete; 12 Witches; The Brown Girl; I'm forever Blowing Bubbles; Cam Ye O'er Frae France' Sir James the Rose; Devil's Dream; Royal Forester; The Black Joke/Sligo Maid; All Around My Hat; The Mason's Apron.
29th-31st Oct (3 dates). Bottom Line, NYC with Ken Bloom.
Broadcast on Radio, good bootlegs available. Devil's Dream, Royal Forester, Orfeo/Nathan's Reel, Gaudete, London, Brown Girl, Song For Germany, Wife Of Ushers Well, All Around My Hat, Cam Ye, Black Joke/Sligo Maid, Hard Times Of Old England, Bosnian Hornpipes, Mason's Apron.
30th Nov: Single: Fighting for Strangers (Mooncoin Jig)
A song put together by Tim Hart, but after a run of non charting single this was a small scale release with little or no advertising. The melody is known as being the Hymn 'He Who Would Valiantly Be' but 'Fighting for Strangers' is actually the original home of the melody!
Song is a combination of 'Our Captain Cried All Hands' and 'Fighting for Strangers' with Tim arranging and writing most of the lyrics.
Whilst the Album and singles were not performing well, the band was still able to fill out big UK concert halls and were still getting good press attention. However, off the back of a very busy and stressful US tour, this tour started within days of returning from America and these last few months have been highlighted by various members of the band as to why they needed a break, an ultimately led to the split in June 1977. This tour was the scene of the free "£8,000" being released from the ceiling and a serious lighting rig accident (see below for both).
Interestingly in one newspaper article it said that one of the concerts on this tour was to be filmed by the BBC with the intention of showing 'a one hour special' in the new year. Obviously either the filming or the showing never happened.
Sadly no single confirmed set list has been seen for this tour, but from reviews we know the following were played and that the set was mainly based on 'Hat' and Rocket Cottage and similar to the US Tour. You can almost certainly add Fighting for Strangers to the list due to the single release. We know Thomas the Rhymer was not played.
London (opening song); Hard Times of Old England; The Wife of Ushers Well; Gaudete; Bosnian Horsepipes; 12 Witches (Rick); Sir James The Rose, Black Jack Davy, Song for Germany; Sligo Maid; Orfeo; Brown Girl; Cam Ye O'er Frae France; All Around My Hat (1st Encore); Royal Forester (2nd encore)
12th Nov. Newcastle City Hall
13th Edingburgh Usher Hall
14th Aberdeen Capitol
15th Glasgow Apollo. With martin Simpson.
16th Chester ABC
17th Birmingham Odeon.
19th Manchester Free Trade Hall
20th Sheffield City Hall
21st Liverpool Empire (2000 people)
22nd Leicester De Montford
24th London Hammersmith. Crowd 4,000. See above for the story of the free money! .
25th London Hammersmith. 2nd date added after sell out on the 24th. Night of the lighting Rig accident
27th Cardiff Capitol
28th Oxford New Theatre
29th Bristol Colston Hall
1st Dec. Peterbrough ABC
2nd Portsmouth Guildhall
3rd Bournemouth Winter Gardens
5th Coventry Theatre
6th Brighton Dome
8th Bradford St Georges Hall
10th Gaumont, Southampton
This tour had the famous 'free money' incident. At the Hammersmith Gig Tony Secunda decided as a publicity stunt to take an entire nights takings, £8,000 (although the reality is that a lot less than this ended up being given to the audience!) and stuffed it down through the ceiling during the the encore tune 'The Mason's Apron' into the hands of the startled audience! Tony got Adrian Hopkins, who was part of the Chrysalis in house promotional team, and was now working with the band on a more regular basis, to go up into the ceiling and drop down the money. However, Tony was so paranoid that he had Adrian stripping off to check he hadn't kept any money back! The stunt worked well as it made headlines in a few newspapers, including the Daily Mirror on page 3. They were going to repeat it the next night but Council refused.
The Hammersmith date on the 25th was the scene of an accident that almost ended in very serious injuries when a lighting rig collapsed, injuring two roadies. Clive Davies, who was the Lighting Manager on the tour, was kind enough to describe the incident to me:
"The lighting rig in Hammersmith was my worst nightmare. I was operating the lighting console from the balcony. I had my headphones on and all could hear was screaming as the front truss fell backwards towards the back screen , luckily we had built a large scaffold construction across the back of the stage with 5 follow spots and operators. And where the screaming was coming from as they saw it coming to them. Then I looked down at the stage to see the band crawling out from under the fire curtain. From what I remember there was one member of the stage crew who got injured from falling debris. I was amazed the show still went ahead. When we did restart it looked like a war zone, lights pointing everywhere.
Peter has been quoted as saying "The safety curtain caught under the foot of the lighting rig and it collapsed. There were a couple of spotlight operators on top of the rig and they were hurt. I remember thinking at the time that I was in a safe place if I didn't panic"
As 1976 draws to a close we have seen the last time the 'Classic Era' Steeleye line up will play in the 70's and as a full time band in the public eye. This line up reform in 1980 but the music landscape will have moved on to a new post punk music/70's Rock world.