Steeleye Span

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Chart positions
Explanation of the data
Please to see the King
  UK 45 04/10/1971 (2 weeks)
Below the salt
  UK 43 10/14/1972 (1 week)
Parcel of Rogues
  UK 26th 
04/28/1973 (5 weeks)
Now We Are Six
  UK 13 03/23/1974 (13 weeks)
Commoner's Crown
  UK 21st 
02/15/1975 (4 weeks)
All around my hat
  UK 7th 
October 25, 1975 (20 weeks)
Rocket Cottage
  UK 41 10/16/1976 (3 weeks)
  UK 14th December 8, 1973 (9 weeks)
All around my hat
  UK 5 
November 15, 1975 (9 weeks)

Steeleye Span is a British folk rock band formed in 1969 . It is one of the most important bands in this genre.

Name of the band

The band name comes from a character from the English folk song Horkstow Grange . Steeleye Span himself only recorded this song in 1998.

Band history

Steeleye Span was founded in 1969 by bassist Ashley Hutchings , who wanted to develop from the folk rock of his old band Fairport Convention to a more folk style with a more faithful interpretation of old English folk songs. In early November 1969 he met Johnny Moynihan , Gay Woods (née Gabriel Corcoran), Terry Woods and Andy Irvine in the Prince of Wales pub in Highgate to find suitable members for a new group from the disbanding Irish folk band Sweeney's Men win. Because of his dislike of Terry Woods, Moynihan jumped the next day. Irvine followed as he was aiming for a solo career. As a replacement, Hutchings first turned to Bob and Carol Pegg, then Robin and Barry Dransfield . Finally he won the folklore duo Maddy Prior and Tim Hart for his project.

The first line-up for Steeleye Span consisted of Tim Hart ( vocals , guitar , percussion , dulcimer , violin , banjo , harmonium ), Ashley Hutchings (electric bass), Maddy Prior (vocals, banjo) and the couple and folk duo Gay Woods (vocals , Concertina , autoharp , bodhrán ) and Terry Woods (vocals, guitar, concertina, mandola , banjo, mandolin ). The latter was founded in 1970 after she became Dr. Strangely Strange changed, replaced by Peter Knight (violin) and Martin Carthy (guitar, vocals).

Steeleye Span's commercial breakthrough came in 1971, when the band switched to electrically amplified instruments and developed their characteristic mix of old folk songs and rock . This tendency was intensified when drummer Nigel Pegrum joined the band in 1974, which resulted in the Ian Anderson- produced LP Now We are Six . The singer Maddy Prior released a number of solo albums from 1977 and played several albums with the folk singer June Tabor and the Carnival Band .

After the recording of the third album Ten Man Mop, or Mr. Reservoir Butler Rides Again (released in December 1971), Rick Kemp replaced the band founder Ashley Hutchings, and Bob Johnson replaced Martin Carthy. Until 1976 the group stayed together in the line-up of Prior, Hart, Knight, Johnson, Kemp and Pegrum. Then Carthy came back for Johnson and John Kirkpatrick replaced Peter Knight.

In the 1970s Steeleye Span was one of the most famous English folk rock groups. The group played almost exclusively traditional songs that they had rearranged. Mike Batt as a music producer directed the music more towards pop . During this time Steeleye Span managed to place two songs in the British charts in addition to her albums. The album All Around My Hat , produced by Mike Batt, featured the group's biggest hit with the title track, and the single Gaudete - a 16th century Christmas song in Latin from the 1972 album Below the Salt - also came in the charts. In addition, titles such as Cam Ye O'er Frae France , Allison Gross and Lovely on the Water contributed to the fact that Steeleye Span concerts, especially in England and the Netherlands, were still well attended around the year 2000.

With the end of the folk rock boom, the group lost its importance and temporarily disbanded in 1978. However, they found back together in 1980 in the 1974 cast. Even if there were no great international successes in the 1990s: Steeleye Span produced albums again and gave concerts, including an eight-hour benefit concert in the London Forum in 1995 , at which almost all former band members played together.

In 1994 Gay Woods rejoined Steeleye Span and played three studio albums and one live album with the band. On Time she can still be heard together with Maddy Prior, on Horkstow Grange and Bedlam Born she was the sole singer. In 2000 Woods left the band again and was replaced by Prior in 2002.


With the combination of traditional songs with modern sounds, Steeleye Span played a key role in shaping English folk rock and, together with bands such as Fairport Convention and Pentangle, can be considered one of the most important groups in this genre. Many later folk rock musicians were influenced by them, including the Fleet Foxes .


Liam Genockey and Ken Nicol 2006

Discography (selection)

  • Hark! The Village Wait (1970)
  • Please to See the King (1971)
  • Ten Man Mop, or Mr. Reservoir Butler Rides Again (1971)
  • Below the Salt (1972)
  • Parcel of Rogues (1973)
  • Now We Are Six (1974)
  • Commoner's Crown (1975)
  • All Around My Hat (1975)
  • Rocket Cottage (1976)
  • Storm Force Ten (1977)
  • Time Span (1977)
  • Original Masters (1977)
  • Live at Last (1978)
  • Sails of Silver (1980)
  • Back in Line (1986)
  • Tempted and Tried (1989)
  • Tonight's the Night - LIVE (1992)
  • Time (1996)
  • The Journey - Recorded live at the Forum London (1996)
  • Horkstow Grange (1998)
  • Bedlam Born (2000)
  • The Very Best of Steeleye Span - Present (2002)
  • They Called Her Babylon (2004)
  • Winter (2004)
  • In Concert (2006)
  • Bloody Men (2006)
  • Live at a Distance (2CD + DVD, 2009)
  • Cogs, Wheels and Lovers (2009)
  • Wintersmith (2013) - in collaboration with Terry Pratchett
  • Dodgy Bastards (2016)


  • Irwin Stambler: The Encyclopedia Of Pop, Rock And Soul. 3rd revised edition. St. Martin's Press, New York City 1989, ISBN 0-312-02573-4 , pp. 641-643.
  • Siegfried Schmidt-Joos , Barry Graves : Rock Lexicon. Rowohlt, Reinbek bei Hamburg 1973, 2nd edition 1975, reprint 1978, ISBN 3-499-16177-X , p. 334 f.
  • Brian Hinton, Geoff Wall: Ashley Hutchings. The Guv'nor & The Rise of Folkrock. The Authorized Biography. Helter Skelter Publishing, London 2002, ISBN 1-900924-32-3 .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. a b UK chart history
  2. Music Sales Awards: UK
  3. a b Inlay of the album Backwoods by Gay & Terry Woods
  4. Cover of the album Hark! The Village Wait
  5. Interview with Robin Pecknold