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I’m Not a Pheasant Plucker: The Wurzels

 02 Mar 2018  Blog

The Wurzels are one of Britain's longest-established touring bands and have become something of a national institution since they first rocketed to fame in 1976 with their chart-topping hit, Combine Harvester. More than 40 years later, the band is still on the road!

Their supporters include Bristol City Football Club - the Championship club and its fans have adopted The Wurzels' 1976 song, One For The Bristol City, as their anthem. As a result, it has achieved such popularity that a new version (recorded in 2007) is played at the final whistle at the club's Ashton Gate ground.

 

Early years

The band first formed in 1966 as a backing group for the singer and songwriter Adge Cutler, whose West Country wit earned him the title, "The Bard Of Avonmouth". He was christened Alan, but was always known as Adge to his friends.

He embraced his Somerset roots and The Wurzels sang folk songs with a local theme, such as drinking cider, farming and village life. Their first hit in 1966 was Drink Up Thy Zider - it reached number 45 in the pop charts.

They recorded numerous live albums at West Country clubs and pubs and were known for their wit, which was sometimes bawdy - as they discovered when the BBC banned Twice Daily in 1966 because it was considered too raunchy!

 

Tragedy strikes

The Wurzels were enjoying commercial success and playing many live gigs when tragedy struck in May 1974. Cutler was driving home alone from a live show in Hereford when he was involved in a fatal car accident at a roundabout near the Severn Bridge. He was just 45 years of age.

Apart from the loss of their good friend, this also cast doubt on the band's future, as he had been the main songwriter. The Wurzels decided to remain together, but their music changed direction and they began re-writing existing popular songs with their own style and lyrics.

This resulted in chart-topping songs such as The Combine Harvester in 1976, sung to the tune of Melanie's hit, Brand New Key. In the same year, I Am a Cider Drinker, sung to the tune of Jonathan King's Paloma Blanca, reached number three in the charts. They called their style "scrumpy and western" - a tongue-in-cheek term for music from England's West Country, which is a fusion of comical folk songs filled with double entendres, normally containing an affectionate parody of a more mainstream genre and sung in a broad local dialect.

 

Pheasant plucker

One of The Wurzels' most famous comic songs is I'm Not a Pheasant Plucker  (otherwise known as The Pheasant Plucker's Son), which is a track from their album, Golden Delicious, released in April 1977.

Not one for the feint-hearted, due to its tongue-twister lyrics, it was often performed live. It certainly wasn't recommended for an audience sing-along after a few scrumpy ciders!!

The song was originally released as a seven-inch single by recording artist Doug Taylor in 1973. It always raised a laugh among audience members when performed by The Wurzels, as they grappled with the words.

 


Live shows

The Wurzels have continued to play live gigs across the UK throughout their long career. Among the highlights, they have been playing at Shalbourne Festival for 11 years and played at the Glastonbury Festival in 2000 and again in 2008. They also headlined at the Bristol Community Festival 2007.

The line-up includes guitarist Pete Budd, vocalist Tommy Banner (who also plays piano, accordion and organ), drummer John Morgan, bass player Sedge Moore and keyboard player Louie Nicastro. Morgan, who claims to be 79 and is the self-confessed oldest drummer in Britain, says he prefers cocoa to cider these days.

They now have a following of both old fans and new and are one of the most energetic and fun bands on the live circuit. The Wurzels' most recent single was Old Rosie in 2017, which was available as a downloadable track only. They have recorded around 30 albums over the years.

It may be a joke song by The Wurzels, but pheasant plucking is a serious business! Henry Cowls' pheasant netting is the reliable choice for gamekeepers and pheasant breeders who need effective and powerful protection for their birds.

Providing round-the-clock protection, our knotted pheasant netting will keep pheasants and other game birds safe from birds of prey and predatory animals - sizes range from 11ft x 11ft, to 64ft x 320ft and custom cuts are available on request. Please contact us for further information.

 

All together now…! “I’m not a pheasant plucker, I’m a pheasant plucker’s son and I’m sitting plucking pheasants, ‘til the pheasant pluckers come.”

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