The band is mostly, and perhaps unfairly, only remembered for its 1976 number one hit The Combine Harvester but has a history stretching nearly 40 years, and still performs to this day.
In its heyday the band was very popular despite disdain from "serious" critics.
The name of the band came from the fodder beet Mangelwurzel. As can be determined from the subject matter of many of their songs, cider is very popular amongst Wurzels and their fans. Their particular "genre" of music has been named "Scrumpy And Western" (scrumpy is a name given to traditional cider).
Adge Cutler and The Wurzels
The Wurzels were formed in 1966 as a backing group for singer/songwriter Adge Cutler.
With a thick Somerset accent, Adge played on his West Country roots, singing many folk songs with local themes such as cider making (and drinking!), farming, local villages, and industrial work songs, often with a comic slant.
During the 1960s, the band became immensely popular regionally, and the release of the single Drink Up Thy Zider led to national fame and number 45 in the UK charts.
A number of live albums were recorded at local pubs and clubs, filled with Adge Cutler penned favourites such as Easton in Gordano, The Champion Dung Spreader, and Thee's Got'n Where Thee Cassn't Back'n, Hassn't? together with songs written by others and some reworkings of popular folk songs of the time.
Adge Cutler was killed in May 1974 after crashing his car in Chepstow following a Wurzels concert and is buried in Nailsea.
Adge's death marked a curious turning point in the history of the Wurzels. Deprived of the main song-writing talent, the remaining Wurzels recorded The Wurzels Are Scrumptious! in 1975, an album containing many favourites from the back catalogue, including a number of previously unrecorded Cutler-written songs
In order to continue the surviving band needed its own songs, and these mostly took the formula of re-written popular pop songs of the time with the lyrics changed to include the usual Wurzel themes (cider, farming, local villages, Cheddar cheese, etc.)
The band quickly followed its success with the release of several a number of similarly-themed novelty songs such as I Am A Cider Drinker and Farmer Bill's Cowman, but by the turn of the 1980s had largely faded back in to obscurity.
The Wurzels never stopped performing, but record releases during the 1980s and 1990s were limited to even more obscure novelty singles like I Shot JR, Sunny Weston-super-Mare, and I Want To Be An Eddie Stobart Driver.
The late 1990s saw the beginning of a revival of the fortunes for the surviving Wurzels, gaining a cult status amongst students and a resurgence in their popularity in their native West Country. A number of CD releases followed, largely featuring re-recordings of older works, but also Never Mind The Bullocks, an album of cover versions of contemporary British rock songs.
Wurzels continue to perform regular gigs.
Important Band Members
He was the lead singer of the band until his untimely death in 1974.
The longest serving Wurzel, Tommy joined the band in 1967, and is still going strong. Usually seen playing accordian, but has also played piano in the Wurzels' past. His Scottish accent remains, but is the band member most likely to be seen actually drinking cider during gigs these days, and has an unfortunate habit of removing his shirt during a performance.
The familar front-man of the post-Cutler band, Pete Budd originally joined the Wurzels as a banjo player in 1970, his distinctive West Country vocals made him an obvious replacement after Adge's death.
He continues to sing, and play banjo and guitar for the band, incluing in his repertoir a Mark Knopfler-esque guitar lead on their modern version of I Wish I Was Back On The Farm, originally made famous by George Formby.