The band continues with no Maddy Prior for the first time


A return to a mainly part time existence

Steeleye Span 1998-2001

Peter Knight; Gay Woods; Bob Johnson; Tim Harries.Guest drummers - Gerry Conway; Dave Mattacks. 

Cancelled early 1998 tour? (With Al Stewart)

There is a tour poster of a potential 'Musical Nomads Tour' in 1998 with no dates. As Liam is on the picture then it may be a tour that fell through because Liam left quite suddenly? (see 1997) Or, as it was promoted by Adrian Hopkins it may have tied into his departure. 

1st May Bergen. Bergen Garage; Norway.
The debut of the new line up. Bootleg exists. No drummer at this concert, probably the first time since 1973. It made for a more relaxed, intimate but vocal audience and worked really well for the 'Go From my Window/Water is Wide' medley which had an extended improv piece in the middle including a Poem read by Gay. It also probably the only chance to hear 'All Around My Hat' & 'Thomas' with no drums, on which both Gay delivers superb vocals.
Set List: Cadgwith Anthem; The Prickly Bush; Harvest of the Moon; Padstow; Erin; The Elf Knight; Twa Corbies; Seagull; Go From My Window/Improv./The Water is Wide; All Around My Hat; Thomas the Rhymer; Old Maid in the Garrett; Gaudete; Reels. 

  ? Castelnuovo nei Monti, Italy. Uncertainty about the year.

July 18th: Maddy Prior presents 'In Good Voice' a series on BBC World Service about signing.
Click on image for details & song by song review

17th Album: Horkstow Grange

The first Steeleye Span album not to feature Maddy Prior which turns out to be probably the most acoustic album since the early days. Bob Johnson plays the acoustic guitar on a number of tracks. As usual the arrangements/melodies are mostly by the band Span based on mainly traditional songs One track was written by Johnny Patterson in the 1920's (I Nish I Was Never Wed). The song 'Horkstow Grange' is where the name John 'Steeleye' Span originates from  (Melody by Peter) Peter described it as a transitional album. Initially it was recorded with no drums but Peter said the band were so used to having drums that the album sounded like they had been lifted off! Dave Mattacks was brought in to add the 'missing' drums! 

Per Tim: "We lost our drummer, our management and between 50 -60% of our audience in that first year. 'Horkstow Grange' was made in a kind of daze, like starting again with nothing to lose."

'Horkstow Grange' UK Tour

19 dates in October. 1st UK tour by the band since Maddy Left. Dave Mattacks on Drums (was not a full time member). Long Lankin returns to the set after a long absence and Gay tackles Thomas The Rhymer for the first time, but the rest of the set is predictably drawn from the new album and songs from previous tours.

Long Lankin; The Prickly Bush; Erin Grá Mo Chroí (Bob on acoustic guitar) The Tricks of London (Bob on acoustic); One True Love (Bob on acoustic); The Dark-Eyed Sailor (Bob on acoustic); Horkstow Grange; [Interval] The Old Turf Fire; Seagull; Black Jack Davy (sung by Bob); Bonny Birdy; The Water Is Wide; Lord Randall; I Wish That I Never Was Wed; Thomas the Rhymer; The Old Maid in the Garrett; All Around My Hat; Jigs; Gaudete

2nd Oct Trinity Arts Centre, Tunbridge Wells
3rd Strode Theatre, Street
5th Millfield Theatre, Edmonston
6th Wycombe Swan, High Wycombe
7th Assembly Rooms, Derby
8th Municiple Hall, Colne
9th Parr Hall, Warrington
10th Corn Exchange, King's Lynn
11th Grand Opera House, York
14th The stables, Milton Keynes
15th Ferenham Hall, Fareham
16th Roses Theatre, Tewksbury
17th Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds
19th Salisbury City Hall
21st Customs House, South Shields
22nd Beverley Picture House, Burton Pidsea
25th Corn Exchange, Cambridge
27th Woodville Halls, Gravesend
28th The Harlequin, Redhill

Steeleye Span 1998-2000 (With Dave Mattacks) 

Below is a unique picture of the this line up backstage at Nettlebed '99. This particular line up (with Dave Mattacks & Bob Johnson) only toured in 1998 & early '99. They did record the two albums (Horkstow Grange and Bedlam Born). Thanks so much to Nick Clarke for permission to use this photo

Peter Knight; Tim Harries; Gay Woods; Dave Mattacks; Bob Johnson

Maddy Prior Activity

Meanwhile in 1998 Maddy Prior had a 21 date Spring tour;  a 19 date North American tour and 16 dates on a 'Spirit of the Tradition' tour with Jacqui McShee and Kathryn Tickell. Maddy's band - Maddy Prior & Friends' at the time was Nick Holland and Troy Donockey. Along with Terl Bryant they released the Album 'Flesh and Blood'. Click on image for more details. 


A few Summer dates and one large Autumn tour for the 30th Anniversary

April 3rd: 'Jig and Swig Festival', Leeds Exhibition Centre, Morley. 
Feat. Lindisfarne/Oysterband. Steeleye headlined Saturday [over Easter] but due to time constraints had no time for encore, therefore no time for 'Hat', which is their usual festival encore. Dave Mattacks was on drums. [Thanks Jonathan Lee for info!]

Summer Tour 

Still being billed as the 'Horkstow Grange Tour'. Not been easy to get these dates from what must have been a short Summer tour, must be a couple more at a guess. Described as "One of a 'handful' of warm up dates before 30th Anniv tour" (Nettlebed preview)

31st July Beaufort Theatre, Ebbw Vale.
1st Aug The Arena Theatre Sidmouth
2nd Aug. Nettlebed   
 5th Aug Dranouter, Belgium.
 14th Aug. Maddy Prior and friends at Cropedy Festival
 29th Aug. Steeleye: Bridgenorth festival

30th Anniversary UK Tour

24 dates across October & November. Gerry Conway was on drums 30 years after he appeared on Hark! as a guest drummer. He played on Black Jack Davy, reuniting with Gay Woods on this song. I think this was the tour that "Paul Clarvis also worked with us on a few gigs" per Peter Knight, talking when Gerry joined on a tour that Dave couldn’t make. This tour was recorded and filmed (Croydon), and according to Peter, to a good enough quality to release. However, due probably due to major line up changes in 2000/01 it never made it as a release. Another one for the box set.

The Set list introduces 'Well Done Liar' (with a slightly different melody on the chorus and different dynamics throughout) from the next album, plus 'Stuttering Lovers' which did not make it to the next album so remains unreleased and is only available on bootlegs. Bob sings Black Jack Davey. Erin has an extended outro. (On the album version is fades out quickly). The 'Water is Wide' has an extended improv intro.  


16th Oct. Rosehill Theatre Whitehaven
17th Town Hall Accrington 
18th City Varieties Music Hall Leeds
21st Farnham Maltings Farnham
22nd Woodville Halls Gravesend
23rd The Stables Milton Keynes
24th Palace Theatre Newark
26th Civic Hall Guildford Pentangle 
27th Civic Hall Stratford-Upon-Avon
28th Pavilion Theatre Rhyl
29th De Montfort Hall LeicesterPentangle
30th Sundial Theatre Cirencester
31st Octagon Theatre Yeovil 
1st Nov. St Georges Hall Exeter
2nd Huntingdon Hall Worcester
6th Roses Theatre Tewkesbury
7th Concert Hall, Fairfield Halls Croydon with Pentangle - Filmed. Audience of 600 (capacity 1,800). Dropped 'One True Love', 'Harvest of the Moon'; 'Longbone'; 'Connemara Cradle Song'. 
8th The Playhouse Harlow Pentangle
9th Dacorum Pavilion Hemel Hempstead
11th The Beck Theatre Hayes
12th Castlemilk Folk Festival, Glasgow 
15th Maddermarket Theatre Norwich
16th The Town Hall High Wycombe
17th Cambridge Arts Theatre Cambridge

Click on image for details

Live CD: 'The Journey'

Finally a recording of the 1995 concert made is way onto a double CD. Gay Woods commented later that rework was needed on many of the tracks to make it good enough for release. Gay mentioned Maddy's vocals needed some overdubbing, which of course would have been understandable given the vocal problems she was having at the time. Click on the image for full details including who played on each song. 

Click on image for full details

CD: A rare collection 1972-1996

An interesting release by Raven Records in Australia as it did provide a lot of  rare tracks. However, it was also controversial, as although Raven did get all the necessary permissions there was one track  (I assume Betsy Bell and Mary Gray but I don't know for sure), that was given to Raven by Nigel Pegrum (who lives in Australia) as he owned a tape of a gig. Peter Knight confirmed that Nigel didn't seek approval from the other musicians on the track, and had no authority to give Raven permission to use it. Peter expressed his disappointment. 
There was also the issue that it was released at the same time as 'The Journey' which the band were also unhappy about, 

Maddy Prior: Ballads and Candles

Maddy Prior CD and DVD. A seasonal live recording from Maddy's 1999 Christmas tour. Interesting release as it features both Rick Kemp and Peter Knight, along with five Steeleye songs. (Plus other guests such as June Tabor and Rose Kemp). You can see the 'Hind Horn' on Youtube. This led to Rick and Peter also joining Maddy on a short tour in Feb 2000, see below. 

In addition to this release; Maddy also had a huge 30 date solo Spring Tour with Nick Holland and Troy Donockley supporting the new solo album 'Ravenchild' as well as a 20 date Carinival Band tour in September.


A return to the US, a new album but Bob leaves to be replaced by another 'classic' line up member 

Maddy Prior activity


Peter Knight joined for 4 gigs along with Rick Kemp. Peter said he enjoyed working with Rick again and I'm sure it helped make him the obvious choice to step in when Bob later left. 

In addition during 2000 Maddy had a tour of Australia; festival appearances (including Cropedy); a big 30 date Autumn tour and a December Carnival Band Tour. 

According to John Van Der Kiste's book it was probably the above 'Friends tour and the 'Ballads and Candles' tour, in particular the shows with Peter and Rick that caused some resentment in Gay making her sceptical about Maddy's voice problems, feeling they were exaggerated and an excuse to pursue a solo career using Steeleye songs and musicians, almost trading off the Steeleye name. Of course none of this is substantiated, or particularity realistic given Maddy had been pursuing solo projects since the late 70's using Rick throughout that time. But it does highlight some of the underlying issues that must have been there when both Gay and Maddy were in the band.

Summer festivals

 2nd: Ludlow festival.  Dave Mattacks joined the band on drums. 
Prickly Bush; Old Turf Fire; Black Jack Davy; Dark Eyed Sailor; The Stuttering Lovers; Bonny Birdy; Water is Wide I wish I was Never Wed; Well Don Liar; Thomas the Rhymer; Old Maid in the Garratt; All Around my Hat/Jigs.
3rd: Nettlebed Folk Club, Oxford. Dave Mattacks on drums.
21st July: Louvain, Belgium (did this happen? only seen it as a planned concert)
11th August: Broadstairs Festival, Kent. (definitely happened?) If so, then I assume this is Bob's last concert?

Bob Johnson Leaves

Bob Johnson announces he will leave the band after finishing the next album. No statement by Bob giving reasons for his leaving but one band member said that it was mainly due to 'Personality Differences'. Peter later said in an interview that Bob had had enough of touring and 'all the other stuff that goes with it'. He said that if Bob could be lifted from his home and put on stage he would be fine! After leaving Bob started up his own 'occupational therapist' practice and teaching the guitar.

Rick Kemp rejoins

Rick was announced as replacement for Bob for the next tour at the same time as Bob leaving. Tim Harries would move across to guitar. Rick did not actually become a full member of the band until the reunion in 2002. Although in an interview at the time he did say he enjoyed being back and hoped he would get the chance to continue working with the band. 

Steeleye Span '2000'

Dave Mattacks; Tim Harries; Peter Knight; Gay Woods; Rick Kemp

Rare photo of this temporary touring line up

Sept: US Tour

Dave Mattacks on Drums, Rick on Bass for the first time since 1987. Back in the US three years after touring with Maddy but a shorter tour tour this time, albeit at similar venues.

Two Act Set List: (Rams Head): The Prickly Bush; Dark-Eyed Sailor; Who Told the Butcher; Erin; Staring Robin; Horkstow Grange; The Stuttering Lovers; The Connemara Cradle Song; [Interval] The Old Turf Fire; John of Ditchford; Bonny Birdy; Poem; The Water is Wide; I Wish That I Never Was Wed; Thomas the Rhymer; Old Maid in the Garrett. Encore: All Around My Hat; Jigs
One Act Set List: (Bottom Line): Prickly Bush; Old Turf Fire; Who told the Butcher or One True Love; Dark Eyed Sailor; John of Ditchford; Horkkstow Grange; Erin; [Interval]; Staring Robin; Bonny Birdy; The Water Is Wide; Wish That I Never Was Wed; Thomas The Rhymer; Old Maid In The Garrett; All Around my Hat; Jigs and Reels.

 19th Sept: Rams Head Annapolis
 20th Sept: Birchmire Alexandria
 21st Sept: New York The Bottom Line. 2 Shows
 22nd Sept: Philadelphia Tin Angel
 23rd Sept: Boston Folk Festival
 24th Sept: Iron Horse, Northampton. Massachusetts

Boston Globe review:  Celtic folk rockers Steeleye Span ended the festival on an upbeat note. Combining lush harmonies with guitar, violin, and a traditional rock beat, the British quartet played an innovative combination of 100-year-old songs, and others that span the group's 30-year history. Spirited Irish-flavored songs such as "The Prickly Bush" had the audience on its feet and helped dispel the stereotype that folk is just a quiet sit-down form of music. (Pictures from Archived Boston Globe Website)

Click on image for details & song by song review

18th Album: 'Bedlam Born'

25th Sept. A significant change in direction after Horkstow Grange with an emphasis on the 'rock' element of Folk Rock, although still mainly Trad.Arr. This time Dave Mattacks was brought in during the rehearsals to integrate the drums from the start. It was also however a very strained album with Bob effectively announcing in the liner notes that he was leaving the band. He recorded most of his parts on his own and did not get very involved with the recording by all accounts. All the members contributed to the album. Tim described the album as a 'A conference of alienation'!

'Staring Robin'

During the recording sessions for Bedlam Born the band recorded a Tim Harries song called 'Staring Robin' which had been popular live. Park Records recommended that the track was not included as it was closer to 'Punk Folk' and would detract from the rest of the album. Peter Knight has since said he felt that this was an incorrect decision (by the band to follow the recommendation). I have have a poor quality bootleg that I recorded myself (video below, audio only) and is interesting to listen to purely from an historical perspective. It is also thought that 'Stuttering Lovers' was recorded and an additional Tim Harries one as well that was not used - that may have been 'Through Moorfields' (see Cromer gig in 2001 below) but it is not known for sure.

Staring Robin in Peter's words: " Park did not forbid it. They suggested that maybe it wasn't suitable material for that album. We had the choice. Either we could make a stand in which case it would have been included, or we could trust Park's judgement. We chose the latter. In hindsight I feel it was the wrong decision. Not because of a matter of principle, but because the song is a great song and perfectly suitable for Steeleye. Performing it on gigs proved that"

Autumn UK 'Bedlam Born' Tour

(23 dates). Rick Kemp on bass while Tim Harries moved across to guitar. I heard 'There was a Wealthy Merchant' played on this tour but I don't think it was played often. The 'Hat' song was dropped a few times in this period. With Bob having left it impacted how many new album tracks were played, although Rick's return did mean the return of 'Robbery with Violins' . The band continued to play Starting Robin and Stuttering Lovers despite neither making the grade for the album. This tour was also filmed but as per 1999 has never been seen, almost certainly due to the changes in 2001. 

Set List: Horkstow Grange or Old Turf Fire; John of Ditchford; Who Told the Butcher; Prickly Bush (sung by Tim); Bonny Birdy; I see his Blood upon the Rose; Robbery with Violins; Stuttering Lovers; Old Maid in The Garrett (Not every time); Beyond the Dreaming Place; Staring Robin; Thomas the Rhymer; White Cliffs of Dover; encore: All Around My Hat; The Masons Apron.

1st Bath Theatre Royal
4th Bexhill De La Warr Pavillion
5th Rickmansworth Watersmeet
6th Gravesend Woodville Halls
7th Bewdly Festival Heath Hotel
8th Congleton Daneside Theatre
9th Derby Assembly Halls w.Pentangle
11th Stafford Gatehouse
12th Redditch Palace Theatre (Maddy Prior in audience)
14th Hunstanton Princess Theatre
15th Colchester Arts Centre
17th Bradford St Georges Hall
18th High Wycombe Town Hall
20th Barnstaple Queens Theatre
21st Paignton Paalce Theatre
22nd Milton Keynes The Stables
23rd Swindon Arts Centre
25th Tewksbury The Roses Theatre
26th Southsea South Parade Pier
30th Weston Super Mare The Playhouse
1st   Hayes The Beck Theatre
2nd Bolton Albert Halls
4th Canterbury Gulbenkian Theatre (Terl Bryant played drums at this concert)

Maddy Prior MBE

2001: Maddy became a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE) for services to Traditional Music.

The Crisis of 2001/2002

Across the next year Tim Harries; Gay Woods would both leave the band leaving Peter Knight as last man standing as the band came close to finishing....

Gay Woods leaves the Band

(Feb) No reasons given but it has often been commented that it was in part due to financial problems around publishing issues and royalties that Gay thought she was being excluded from. The strains of touring and being away from her family was also mentioned as reasons at the time.

Gay made the announcement before she had told the other members of the band. Her statement: "I will say that after the tour I'm afraid my dealings with the whole situation were not very nice so I decided it would be, for health reasons,....better just to leave it. So I'm just myself now "

This initiated a very tricky time for Band, and Peter in particular as at various points over the next year it was entirely possible that Steeleye would have finished at this point. As Peter later reflected (in a Richard Hollis Interview): 

"As the last man standing, the future of Steeleye did rest with me and for a long time I wasn’t really sure what to do about it. The Band had been around for over thirty years and to be honest, that seemed as though it should be enough and time to call it a day anyway. So no, at that point I wasn’t confident about its survival and there were moments when I really didn’t want the Band to reform."

February 19th Peter Knight and Tim Harries (the remaining full time members (Rick Kemp had just joined for the last tour) make a joint statement that they will continue to work on new material and see where the music takes them before making a decision on new members later in the year.

Peter: "I am pleased to tell you that Tim and I have decided to work together and reform the band. This will be both exciting and challenging. We will be performing at Cromer on May 13th as planned and the line-up will include Rick Kemp on Bass. I will keep you informed of any developments. Thanks so much for all the email and for your continued support. Forever Forward. Peter."

Tim: "Thanks to everyone who's shown us the kind of genuine support we have grown to really appreciate. Once again awash with change, we've put our heads together and that's where they're going to stay, co-writing and demoing a new STEELEYE SPAN Album that we intend to have ready to record by the end of this year. All potential future Line-up decisions will be based on combining this new work with vintage Steeleye in the most volatile mix possible. After that we will saddle up and storm the gates in a clatter of rockin' bones"

13th May: 'Folk on the Pier', Cromer

Tamsyn Alexander, Tim Harries, Rick Kemp, Terl Bryant and Peter Knight.
This was a long standing booking that still needed fulfilling and the line up was formed just to play at this festival. Tamsyn was in the band "Sin'e" and had only a week to prepare. Tim 'led' the band with most of the vocals and intros. 'Wee Weaver' was a very Jazz influenced version which Tamsyn had sung with her band before, she also brought in 'Streets of Derry'. 'Through Moorfields' was a brand new Tim Harries song based on Trad lyrics.

Seagull (Pete); Wee Weaver (Tamsyn) ; Through Moorfields (Tim); Who Told the Butcher (Pete); Eb English (Peter and Tim only); The King; The Prickly Bush(Tim); Alison Gross(Tim); Streets of Derry (Tamsyn); John Of Ditchford (Tim); I see His Blood Upon the Rose (Tamsyn); Bonny Birdy (Pete); Staring Robin (Tim); All Around my Hat (Tamsyn).

Thanks to Nick Clark for all these great photos, full set list details and more besides!


A new low as Peter Knight is the only remaining member. His statement: 

""Tim Harries has had a change of heart and has decided not to battle on against the odds. I don't feel at present that I want to reform the band alone, but I will live with it for a while before making a final decision."

 Peter Knight indicated on his website that he was in discussions with Park Records/John Dagnell about the future of the band, and that it was looking promising.

Aug 6th: 

 Peter Knight confirms that the band will continue, with a new line up in the new year. No news until then.

Maddy Prior activity

During this time in 2001/2002 Maddy remained incredibly busy. A 29 Spring tour in 2001 to support new album 'Arthur the King' plus a further 17 date Autumn tour rounded off with a December Carnival Band Tour. In early 2002 Maddy toured with Troy Donockley and Nick Holland - UK/Australia/Japan; before embarking on a Spring tour with 'Maddy Prior and the Girls' (Abbie Lathe and Rose Kemp) supporting 'Bib and Tuck' Album. There was of course another Carnival Band tour in the Autumn.

Controversial single release

'Keltic Fusion' Single - Gaudete

Dec 2001: 'Keltic Fusion' (Maddy Prior, Troy Donockley, Nick Holland, Rose Kemp, Jacqui McShee) release a single: Gaudete/Greenwood Side' (Park Records). This single release nearly derailed the proposed Steeleye Span reunion ........

February 2002
Peter Knight says on his website that there are delays to announcing the new line up, due to, in his words:
"I can't give you a positive answer to your Steeleye question. With no prior warning, and no pun intended, Park Records released another version of Gaudete by Maddy and her 'friends' which has created a variety of reactions and a conflict of interests. We have decided to wait for the dust to settle and talk again next year. Very unfortunate."


8th: Peter Knight Statement  "There are plans to reform a classic Steeleye Span line-up. Talks have been going on for several months between myself and Park Records"
Line up:    

Peter Knight, Maddy Prior, Bob Johnson, Rick Kemp and Liam Genockey.

"We were hoping to tour later this year but due to unforeseen circumstances this is now looking unlikely. I shall now concentrate on my solo work and remain optimistic that we will see Steeleye Span on tour next year."

July 2002
 10th: A new statement from Peter that the Band will now tour in 2002 and release a new studio album that will consist of re-recordings of the classic Steeleye songs voted by fans in an online poll on the Park Records Website.

Peter's closing remarks on the troubles

"On a personal note I would like to say that I am delighted that this has all come together at last, and I am looking forward to playing with, and hearing this great line-up. I will keep you informed of all developments.

A huge thanks to all of you for your wonderful support, patience and optimism."

1989-97   /  HOME   / 2002-2010