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Steeleye Span

There is a Lincolnshire folk song called Horkstow Grange containing a character called John 'Steeleye' Span.

Steeleye Span is a hugely influential English Electric Folk band that has had so many line-ups and incarnations that it is almost like the original axe that has only had two new heads and three new handles. Maddy Prior describes it as a bus:

'Steeleye Span is like a bus. It goes along, and people get on and get off it. Sometimes the bus goes along the route you want to go, and sometimes it turns off, so you get off.'

Formed around 1969 from Fairport's bass player Ashley Hutchings, Duo Tim Hart and Maddy Prior and Irish Duo Terry and Gay Woods.

Terry and Gay met Ashley at the Keele Folk Festival in 1969. Terry was playing with Sweeney's Men and Ashley wanted to form a group with not only Terry Woods but Gay, Johnny Moynihan and Andy Irvine too. Johnny did not like Terry much and declined and Andy dropped out. Bob and Carol Pegg and the Dransfields were asked to take their place before Tim Hart and Maddy Prior accepted.

The first album was Hark! The Village Wait in 1970. Terry and Gay left shortly after and were replaced with Martin Carthy and Peter Knight providing a relatively stable line-up. This incarnation recorded Please to See the King in 1971 and Ten Man Mop or Mr Reservoir Butler Rides Again in 1972. They also produced a wonderful compilation LP called Individually and Collectively in 1972.

Then Martin Carthy and Ashley Hutchings left and Bob Johnson and Rick Kemp joined. This line-up released Below the Salt in 1972 and Parcel of Rogues in 1973 and attracted drummer Nigel Pegrum

  • Gaudete - Christmas hit 1974
  • Now we are Six (1974)
  • Commoner's Crown (1975 including Peter Sellers playing Ukelele on New York Girls)
  • Mike Batt starts producing. Steeleye goes commercial.
  • All Around My Hat (1975)
  • All Around My Hat (single makes the UK charts)
  • Rocket Cottage (1976)
  • Storm Force Ten (1977 Knight and Johnson quit, Carthy rejoins and brings John Kirkpatrick)
  • Live at Last
  • Sails of Silver (Carthy and Kirkpatrick swap with Knight and Johnson)
  • Back in Line (1986)
  • Tempted and Tried (1989)
  • Time (1996)
  • Horkstow Grange (1998)
  • Bedlam Born (2000)
  • They called her Babylon (2004)
  • Bloody Men (2006)