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Here's wishing I'd planned more for this [the 30th anniversary concert at Chiswick] - as it approaches, the more I'd like to come. But from California . . . ah, nuts. Maybe if some miracle standby airfare happens, I could make a weekend of it. Any chance of being sure the event is recorded, and perhaps published? It sounds like its developing into quite a bash.
[The concert is being recorded for a possible CD release - Dick]
Did I ever tell you about how, in '81, I missed seing Dave play (I think at St Martins in the Fields?) by *ONE* day?
[nope - Dick! (P.S - Bad luck!!]
Look forward to live CD. Still scamming to come over if right fare pops up will fly in Sat and out Mon don't hold out much hope though. It's a shame all this practice will not be brought to this side of the pond. Would go anywhere to see that.
I have been fascinated by the Strawbs and Dave Cousins' music since 1972, and over the years I have not found many other Strawbs fans here in Norway. To find other people with the same interest now on your pages is indeed stimulating. More than 10000 visits to the page since March demonstrates the quality of the page. Thank you very, very much!
I will not have the opportunity of attending the 30th anniversary concert. As this may one of the very few chances of seeing all the old heroes gathered, I should very much have wanted to be there. Not only to hear the songs, but also to have the chance to say 'thank you' to the Strawbs for all the hours of entertainment and joy they have given me and (obviously) thousands of others.
Greetings ! I still remember the first time I heard the album Deep Cuts ! I was really high but it had a great effect on me . Every song is so intense. I was really into the Yes and Rush stuff and used headphones a lot. I really got hooked on that album man! Still listen to it once in a while and STILL enjoy it a lot Simple Visions is my favorite !! Another one of those bands like Unicorn or Pretty Things or Max Webster or Good Rats or Babe Ruth etc. that did not get as popular as they should have, a real pity!!! Live long and prosper people . miles morris portland maine us of ache!!
Well this is fantastic and the best use I have found yet for modern technology. I have only been on the net for a few months and had no idea that there would be a Strawbs page.
My interest goes back to schooldays and the Strawbs gig at Marlborough Grammar School in 1968. I was hooked by the music and Dave C's awful sense of humour! Through College days and after I followed things very closely and saw the band on about 12 more occasions over the years. My favourite memory is of a gig at Reading Uni and the band gathering in the bar before going on stage. Rick Wakeman was getting very edgy that his girlfriend had brought her parents along! It was a great night, a very drunken one too. Dave Cousins even ended up judging the Rag Queen contest.
My last contact was a Dave Cousins solo gig at the Half Moon (just after the group had broken up) with a guest appearance from Dave Lambert.
Now I am living in Australia and hadn't given the Strawbs much of a thought until I discovered the web page. It is a brilliant one and I have found at least a couple of fans who live Down Under. I would dearly love to be at the reunion concert in August but will have to first win the lottery. Great news that so many tracks are now out or coming out on CD. Most of my collection is pretty worn out. I would love to hear from any other Aussie fans or any fans at all as I do genuinely consider myself to be the world's number one Strawbs fan. Thanks a lot Dick, you are doing a great job. Dave Grosvenor, Toowoomba Queensland.
I only saw the Strawbs once – Friday, Oct. 10, 1975. They played the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, Ontario.
If memory serves, the Strawbs may have been the very first rock group allowed by the Powers that Be into what was then Canada's premiere performing arts facility. Back then, it was "just fine" to exclude the electric guitar set from filling the 3,500-cushioned seat auditorium for an evening of "rock music."
"Drama? Have a seat!"
"Symphony? Of course, (but no whispering)."
"University Convocation? Second and third seats on your left, sir!"
(For a national capital city, Ottawa has a well-deserved reputation for small-mindedness. When Dylan started touring again in the early-70s, Ottawa passed on a chance to book him at the Civic Centre because the local junior hockey team was somehow unable to reschedule a game in the facility to accommodate his tour dates. On the other hand, the New York Rangers re-booked their National Hockey League game so Dylan could use Madison Square Garden. Dylan gave Ottawa a pass.)
Anyway, if it wasn't Cousins & Co. who first played the Arts Centre, then they were very close to being the first "rock music" group permitted to use the multi-million dollar facility -- and invite their long-haired fans in too!
And, if I remember rightly, we did manage to leave the place standing that night – although it was later thought some minor repair work was needed after the Strawbs blew the roof off the joint!
Not bad for a $6.50 ticket! These guys were darn good. As Ken Levine has noted elsewhere in his notes and stories, the Strawbs were unbelievably huge in the Montreal-Ottawa area. (For some reason -- perhaps heavy play-listing in its early years by Montreal's first FM rock music station -- various bands including Strawbs, Gentle Giant, Supertramp, Genesis and Jethro Tull enjoyed massive Montreal fan support way beyond their relative popularity elsewhere.)
I'm a film maker and writer living in Calgary, Canada. Strawbs music has been an inspiration for my work since I started writing as a young teen, some 25 years ago. I recall the two weeks circled on the cover of Two Weeks Last Summer concurred with the most amazing two weeks of my young life at the time.
I met Cousins backstage during their Hero And Heroine Canadian tour. He gave me loads of time and we talked frankly about many things, though I was just a young fan. I remember the clarity of his eyes, how they sparkled like a cool spring under sunlight. His face, mind and spirit remain embedded in me.
Though Strawbs is the greatest, and the mystical/folk elements of Hudson/Ford's contributions were/are an important part of the Strawbs recipe, Cousins' 1st solo remains the most stunning reminder of a magic period in the area of popular music. The album came at a transition period for the Strawbs as they were shedding their folk influences and turning to progressive rock and pop. But Strawbs were not a pop band - they were an icon for the merging of historical popular music of Europe with popular music today. I think perhaps Strawbs (inadvertently) became privy to the huge pop machine and felt they had to produce singles to keep going. That may have been what eventually grounded them.
I think today, more than ever, they could stand as the unique talented force they are if only they went back to their roots; Cousin's beautiful languid ballads steeped with traditional/classical influences, Hudson/Ford's psychedelic folk mantras, and together their powerful, image-evocative power songs that esponge anger, protest and passion for the injustices of our world, both past and present.
I'm in my forties, but I still play the first five or six Strawbs albums more than any other music that I have. I think I've heard their influences on 4AD bands like This Mortal Coil, Dead Can Dance, and even commercial bands like The Wallflowers ("Heroes", with it's mellotron backbone sounds more like Strawbs than either The Wallflowers or Bowie).
What Cousins and company were able to do most, more than what almost nobody can do today, is mix melody, mood, passion and culture all into one song. They've created a legacy that will exist throughout time, even if a major portion of the listening public is too insipid to tap into the brilliance of The Strawbs.
I am in my mid (ish) 30's and becoming more of a Strawbs fan daily. I was too young to have seen the band in their heyday, but my older brother had a copy of Witchwood when it was originally released and I particularly loved "Glimpse of Heaven" at the age of about nine. When I started buying records in about '76 I bought a copy but never bought any other albums. When CD's arrived I started looking for Strawbs titles and never found any until I went to Norway on business in about '91 and found Bursting in a shop in Oslo. From that point I had to find other material and eventually discovered Denise.
My first concert was the 25th festival followed by Aldershot where Blue was unable to play so the band played as a four piece and still managed to sound wonderful. I then went to a strange gig near Abingdon where Man were the support. The venue was changed due to reported death threats by the villagers who feared some hippy invasion. The result was that after Man had played for ages there were only about 30 Strawbs fans left and the band had to keep the set short as the club was waiting to open for normal customers.
Then I went to Winchester in the water tower (a great show) and finally to a show in a pub in Devon ('95?). This was a great show as Dave and the boys were in the bar before and on a visit to the Gents I met Hud who recognized me from a previous show! I explained that we were staying with my sister in law in Ottery St. Mary and he promptly introduced me to Dave.
So at long last I finally have all the currently available material and am looking forward to hearing Ghosts and Antiques for the first time. I can't wait for Chiswick. I am hoping for a performance of Benedictus which I love but have never seen live (I am sure that as I was walking from the car park at Stansfield there was a sound check going on and the introduction was played but it never made it the actual show).
[I reckon you might be in luck! - Dick]
I have been on a Camel mailing list and introduced myself mentioning Strawbs as one of my favourite bands. I had a number of replies from around the world from people who remembered them and would like to see them. There was one person from the States who had done an English course and had had to do a critique of a poem. He had asked if he could use some rock lyrics and was told that was OK as long as they could stand up as poetry. So he chose a Strawbs song (unfortunately I can't remember which one) and was the only member of the class to get an A. Apparently he will be forever grateful to Dave for this!
[DG: The idea for the You Liked That ..." competition was largely due toJeff's suggestion - thanks Jeff!]
I am very new to the group. In fact, it was only two days ago that I heard Strawbs music for the first time. While on vacation in Austin, Texas, I stopped at a used book/CD/record store. I stumbled across "Best of Strawbs" in double-record format. When I got home I put it on the turntable and was very pleased with what I heard. It's always great to "discover" another good group.
You might want to add a section to your site on other bands that Strawbs fans are into. Your "Related Bands" is certain in the right direction, but you might include other bands not related, but with somewhat similar music philosophy (i.e. Gentle Giant, Gryphon, Peter Gabriel-era Genesis, PFM, Steeleye Span, etc.). The Gentle Giant web page does this and it really helps expose people to groups they might otherwise not know about.
Now on to the task of getting copies of their other albums...
[DG: I asked Ian about a comment he made about Dave Cousins and Dave Lambert playing solo gigs together in the later 70s - he responded with a bumper collection of reminiscences ....]
I'm never saw the Two Daves but a friend of mine did though. They apparently played the Queen's Hall in Hexham, Northumberland, back in 1977/8. My friend said they played some Strawbs stuff and work of people like Arlo Guthrie. The venue was three-quarters full, and very folky. They were on a mini-tour in less fashionable venues. I know of no recording.
I saw The Strawbs at the Free Trade Hall in Manchester in 1973 (Blue Weaver, Hudson/Ford), the Manchester Opera House in 1974 (Rod Coombes, Chas Cronk), and the FTH again in 1975 (the same, I think). A few months after the Opera House gig [ actually I think it must have been after the FTH gig in 1973 - DG] there was an interview with Dave C in the NME in which he said that the Strawbs had split up once again after that tour because he had been so depressed at the reaction to some of the new material. One particular person in the audience, he recalled, had been shouting for songs like "Sheep", which they had still been doing the previous year but which he now wanted to leave behind.
That somebody was, er, me. I still feel guilty.
Around the same time there was a weekly kids' programme on ITV with an audience of children. It wasn't a pop show, but at the end someone came on and did a pop song or two. One week it was The Strawbs, who first did, I think, "Lay Down", which was respectably received. After that they did "Benedictus", with Dave Lambert doing a two-part chorus harmony with Dave C (of course, different from the recording). Bravely, their performance was all live and unmimed, though the actual show was clearly taped.
Anyway, because Dave L did the high bits, Dave C had to go down the register to do the low bits, when he got to the chorus. The result was strange, but acceptable to those of us who knew the song. The kiddy audience, however, spontaneously laughed. Just before the second chorus the producer faded sound and picture out, and the titles came up. All these years I have been dying to know: was this out of discretion, or did Dave C blow a gasket and stop, I wonder?
I can't say I've ever met a member of the Strawbs, and I haven't seen them live, yet I would like to share a Strawbs-related moment. In 1995 I was working for a local radio station in my home town of Toensberg, Norway. My assignment at the time was doing interviews for an "English" pub called Brother Tuck, where different entertainers did their monthly turn. This was pretty routine, and I didn't really hope to get much out of it.
Yet, one of these entertainers was a soft-spoken, very sympathetic guitar-player called Johnny Silvo, who I was very sure I had never heard about. During the course of the evening we got to talk about his career and he told me about a singer called Sandy Denny, whom he had met in 1965 and recorded an album with some time later. He probably didn't think that name meant anything special to me! Needless to say, I was fascinated and urged him to tell me all about it! Johnny related a lot of stories about Sandy and of course he knew about her album with the Strawbs. I told him Strawbs was my favourite group bar none, and then he graciously accepted to come along to the studio and perform some of his songs for me, which I duly recorded on a DAT-cassette player. His voice was really special, a vibrant and clear tenor voice.
To top it all off, a couple of months later Fairport Convention performed live in the neighbouring town of Sandefjord, where I came to meet Simon Nicol and the others backstage. We talked about Sandy, the Strawbs and English 60's music in general and I had a high old time.
By the way, I found out that Johnny Silvo had a spot on the Scottish Folk Festival in January this year. If anyone knows of his whereabouts, I would like to wish him well, and the best of luck from Yngvar in Toensberg, Norway.
What a fabulous website....here I thought for years I was alone in my love for the Strawbs and all along you were all out there too. I saw the band in 1976 in New Jersey and had to leave the show because on the same night I also had tickets to see Renaissance....a terrible conflict for a veteran prog rocker. I have always adored the Strawbs from the first-when I heard Hero and Heroine it took my breathe away....only Foxtrot (by Genesis) has been able to do the same. I am thrilled that my favorites (especially Grave New World and Ghosts) are finally coming out on CD....I'm middle aged for crying out loud...I was wondering how much longer I would have to wait...at last the drought is over!
I'm from Hoenefoss in Norway. I've been a Strawbsfan since the early 70's(I am 41) and I've never stopped loving the bands music ever since I first heard "Lay Down" back in 72. Unfortunately I had a "down period" 77-78 when I sold most of my "monster-albums" for first half of the 70's to buy punk records. My complete Strawbs-collection was no exeption and now I'm struggling to find the most of them as I want them on vinyl, not CD. So if you have contacts who are able to supply Strawbs-albums(and singles) on vinyl, please give them my address or mail me their addresses. I am missing the following albums:
From The Witchwood, Antiques....., Grave New World, Deep Cuts,Strawbs, Dragonfly, Nomadness, Bursting...and All our own work.
I've been a life long Strawbs fan, much to my friends' amusement, and have been looking around the web (off and on) for a year to try and find anything on the Strawbs. After having no luck with searches I finally got hold of Deep Cuts/Burning For You on CD from the CD Now web site. Tonight I looked a little closer at the cover for any leads and via Road Goes On Forever records web site found yours. All I can say is it's a sight for sore eyes!
I only saw them twice, once at the Free Trade Hall, Manchester on the Deep Cuts tour and again at UMIST where they were doing Heartbreaker and I actually got to talk to Dave Cousins and Chas Cronk at the bar before the gig.
Anyway I just like to finish by saying a heart felt thanks for a wonderful site, and it's good to know there are Strawbs fans still about.
Patrick J Elshaw
It's neat to hear what all the old boys are doing these days. My first Strawbs album was Hero & Heroine. I was 15 at the time. Of course after that I had to have all their albums.
Unfortunately because I was so young at the time I never got a chance to see Strawbs perform live. I did meet Dave Cousins once though. He was doing a promotional tour for the Deadlines album.He made a stop at a Cleveland record store. It was right after Sandy Denny had passed away.He gave us the news himself. I wrote to him after that and he wrote back, I was quite a happy 17 year old. Nice guy.
PS.I failed to mention I'm a DJ at WERU FM, a community radio station in Maine and I still play Strawbs often.
[Apologies to Chris, too - this one slipped by in my inbox, last December without making it onto the stories page.]
When I first began listening to THE STRAWBS, back in 1973, there were no personal computers, no public access to the Internet, no modems, and (obviously) no official STRAWBS home-page. Finding out about the band's appearances, new releases - and indeed any items of interest - was a distinctly haphazard affair. As a teenager, I was lucky enough to receive helpful replies to letters, both from A&M Records (who actually went to the trouble of sending me ALL the STRAWBS record sleeves, free of charge) and Dave Cousins (who replied at length, several times, between tours, and answered numerous, naive questions with gentlemanly patience), although I am sure they had better things to do.
The music business in the pre-MTV days was a more human, more mysterious and perhaps more interesting animal but, apart from chance glimpses of the band on England's 'Old Grey Whistle Test' or 'Top of the Pops' (along with xeroxed fanzines like Anne Steichen's excellent 'Simple Visions'), it was almost impossible to find out what the band was up to. Seeing something like Dick Greener's extraordinarily professional and detailed web-site in those days would have been like nirvana to me - I'd have thought I had died and gone to heaven. I sincerely recommend anyone who hasn't yet explored every glorious facet of this lovingly constructed site to do so right now. And thanks, Dick, for going to the trouble - there were times, back in the dark ages of rock music, when I thought I must be the only person on Earth who felt this strongly about this band. Keep up the good work!
And, to anyone who has only heard fragments of the STRAWBS recorded history, buy the A&M CD re-releases when they come out - you'll be stunned, fascinated, or - at the very least - surprised. This is a band that really has changed my life for the better.
[Apologies to Lou - he sent this a while back and it got put to one side for uploading ... and then I forgot!]
I got introduced to Strawbs while at college in the late '70s. Hero and Heroine was an album that we played on many evenings. About 5 years ago my vinyls from college were shot and I wanted to replace them with CDs. Easier said then done, since I needed to import them from other countries. I was talking with a Tower Records representative how I wanted to get the H&H album on CD and would be willing to wait however long it would take. She said she'd do her best. Three months went by and were coming home from vacation to find a package. I got excited thinking it was the CD. I open it up to find a copy of Hero and Heroine in vinyl!!!! Enclosed was a note from Lauren saying that she put the CD order in but didn't know when or if I would get it, however she had been to a used record store in California and came across this vinyl and sent it to me , compliments Tower Records. This in the BEST customer service story and STRAWBS story I've ever experienced.
My second best is: the folk where I worked knew that I was a big Strawbs fan and were constantly kidding me that about how no one even knows who they are. Well it was St Patrick's Day in 1994 and a group of us were on a business trip to Columbus, Ohio and were invited to a brew pub for some bitters and music. The brewmeister was also the lead in their band that was playing a lot of celtic music. The melodies reminded me of Strawbs so I sent our host up with a note that requested any Strawbs tune. The girl didn't know who the group was but agreed to give them the request. In the meantime my colleagues are busting me that no one out here in Ohio could possibly have heard of them. I had just about heard enough when the sound of "Part of the Union" filled the air. I can't tell you how elated I was that the band knew a tune. The best is yet to come!!!! When our host got back to the table, I thanked her for giving them the request. No thanks needed because when she gave them the note I had written they looked at her and said "We just played a Strawbs tune". It must have been fate!! On the way out I thanked the Brewmeister and he mentioned that Strawbs is one of his favorite bands and was glad to have met a fellow fan.
I hope to meet the members of the groups someday, since I've never had the opportunity to see them live.
I have been a Strawbs fan ever since 1972. Being a young Norwegian interested in English soccer (a Sunderland supporter since 1964), I listened to BBC Radio 2, and that also introduced me to BBC Radio 1. One Sunday morning "Grave New World" was presented on BBC by Noel Edmunds (if my memory serves me right), and that music gave me a wonderful time, even if the transmitting was not very well received, and I really had a hard task trying to interpret the lyrics.
Around that same time I heard "Lay Down" for the first time, and the sound and the lyrics really thrilled me, more than any piece of music ever had done to me. And for many, many years I could use that song as a substitute for a long walk in the Norwegian mountains. It really gave me peace in my soul.
Strawbs came to Bergen in November 1986, and had a full house and gave a wonderful concert. They came back in early May of 1987 and gave two shows here, and also came back in 1989 together with several other British musicians. I missed that concert, but the Bergen journalists voted Dave Cousins the best performer to visit our town that year ("real stuff, no play-backs - he played with so much energy that two of the guitar strings broke").
Now I have all the available Strawbs CD-s, and look forward to complete my collection. The Strawbs web site has given me the opportunity to be up-dated on the information about the band and the re-issues. And to find all the lyrics gathered is wonderful.
Another quick story for you. 10 years or so ago, my brother was on holiday, and got talking to a couple. He said he used to be in a group. My brother asked who, and he said The Strawbs. He turned out to be Chas Cronk, and Mrs Cronk couldn't believe that someone had heard of him!!!
The Strawbs!!! Just the mere mention of their name, conjures up so many, many memories. For the life of me, I cannot remember the year I first saw them, but I would suggest around 1973. It was certainly after Bursting At The Seams, and it was definitely at The Royal Festival Hall. I had seen my first concert there just before, when I had seen Neil Diamond. But this was the real thing. If anyone knows who supported them, I would be very grateful.
Lineup was definitely Dave Cousins, Dave Lambert, Richard Hudson, John Ford and Blue Weaver. Two hours or so after leaving the RFH, I was totally and absolutely hooked.
The following day I went out and bought Grave New World and Bursting At The Seams. That evening, I 'phoned up my friend who had dragged me along, and I told him about the albums I had bought, and we sung the various songs to each other down the 'phone. Trouble was, I was singing "Heavy Disguise" to the tune of "Tears". For the next few years, I would bore the pants off everyone, telling them about this great group. Unfortunately, such was my enthusiasm, that I managed to create an adverse effect.
After that night, my memory plays a few tricks, but I can remember going to see them at The Fairfield Hall Croydon, Theatre Royal Drury Lane, Victoria Palace and Hammersmith Odeon among other places.
Reading the web page and the set lists, I saw a mention of "Bovver Blues". I had totally forgotten this, and now if I recall, it was a parody of the skinhead problem which we in Britain encountered in the early 1970's. I am sure this was done by Dave Lambert. [it was - it is on album on the King-Earl Boogie Band album "Trouble At T'Mill" -DG]
When Hudson Ford were formed, I went to see them (again at The Royal Festival Hall with Magna Carta supporting them), and after the gig, I saw Dave Cousins and Dave Lambert, waiting to go and see them. This was I think just after "Shine On Silver Sun" had bombed. I briefly spoke to them, and instead of saying I hope the next single does better than the last one, I actually said I hope the next single is better than the last one. Cue strange looks, and quick exit from Yours Truly.
A few other quick memories from this era. At either The Theatre Royal, or Fairfield Hall, Nicky Horne (the deejay), was introducing the band, and the guy next to me told him to F**K Off. Also, someone threw fruit at the band, and Dave Lambert told whoever did it to come on stage and do it there. I always remember Dave Cousins tasted the fruit, and said "It's pretty shitty anyway". At The Hammersmith Odeon, when Roy Hill supported them, and at the interval I could actually remember some of his songs. (George's Bar).
Fast forward to 1985/6, and a gig at a pub in Palmers Green. (The Fox?) Can anyone remember at the end of the gig, a guy from the audience got up on stage, and said "If you want The Strawbs to come back, you've got to cheer very loud." Or words to that effect anyway? Well I have to confess, that that was a friend of my brother's who he had brought along. I went to the back of the hall, and held my head in my hands in embarrassment. He also said on stage "Smash Murdoch" (this was at the height of the newspapers versus Rupert Murdoch dispute). I vividly recall Dave Cousins giving this guy a strange look as he came back for the encores.
Brief other recollections
Thank you Dave Cousins and everyone for totally starting my interest in popular music. I will always be indebted to them
As a teenager, sometime in the mid seventies I got an album called "The Intergalactic Touring Band". It was a sort of sci-fi concept album featuring a variety of artists, one of whom was Dave Cousins. At that time, American radio was ruled by disco and slick pop, so the primary way I had of exposing myself to new music was by picking names off of the liner notes of albums I liked and then taking a chance by buying an album. "Intergalactic Touring Band" led me to buy a 2-record sampler album of Strawbs music - and eventually their entire catalog.
Interestingly, it was the liner notes to the Strawbs sampler album, with its mention of Sandy Denny, which led me to my all-time favorite band, Fairport Convention. Sadly, although all of the old Fairport stuff is available on CD, I've never been able to find any Strawbs CD's. Thanks to this web site, I now know that at least some of the old Strawbs material is available on CD, and it is now my mission to acquire all of it. I lost track of my "Intergalactic Touring Band" album at least 20 years ago (probably loaned it to a friend), and haven't ever been able to replace it. I wonder if it is still available somewhere?
I understand that the major beneficiary over the 'Wild Mountain Thyme' copyright cock-up was the English Folk Dance and Song Society to whom Francis McPeake passed the rights. This information comes from Folk Rock U.K., by Dai Jeffries.
Incidentally, I recall as a spotty l5 year old sending off to the Sun newspaper for a poster of the middle picture on your page! I'd imagine you'd be more likely to get a poster of the Spice Girls now. Who'd have thought that folk rockers were once glam and trendy!
Dave, New Jersey
I used to see the Strawbs at the Capitol Theater in Passaic New Jersey. They always put on excellent shows. The Capitol Theater has been torn down. I was wandering if Dave Cousins still plays in the US. I saw him in a small bar doing a gig around 1982.
Pierre Alexandre Tremblay
I remember seeing The Strawbs in Québec City ( 1971 I think ). We had to wait outside for a pretty long time and it was winter - 30 celsius below- WE were of course quite frozen. The band had a " hot " idea : they opened the evening with "Out In The Cold"! I was laughing and it made me feel warm inside ! It' s a nice memory, anyway ..
I am an East Coast transplant from NYC. I saw the Strawbs a few times in NYC at the Bottom Line and....hmmm...that place...on 13th and 5th...I wanna say Little Texas...or ahhhhh...yes the Lone Star.....and what was wild was that John Ford was with them on this so called reunion tour..I have the t-shirt...and a hand made cassette of that concert if anyone is interested.
I remember the 1971 concert well; Strawbs concerts were the highlight of my young musical life as both me and Steve Waterhouse, my best friend at Guildford RGS, were mad for them! (I will ask him if he remembers it better when I next speak to him.) I do recall that night being a triumph for Rick Wakeman whose keyboard skills were dazzling, the Shadows impersonation which was so bizarre! and that the night was a good one.
But I am sure it was not the first time they played the Civic; I am sure I saw them during the Dragonfly spell before Rick had come aboad and when they were more folksy. That was why I first got hooked on them, because at that time I adored people like Tir Na Nog, Pete Atkin, Jonathan Kelly, Pentangle etc etc. What kept me a devotee was that they took folk rock in an entirely different direction to say, Steeleye Span, more baroque-rock.
Anyway, I am sure I remember hearing Antiques and Curios live, and being disappointed that it was missing that night. It is only recently that I have revived my interest with the BBC CD and now Halcyon Days - buying that is on a par with discovering the Sandy Denny and the Strawbs vinyl in Hamburg about 1973!! I still have it!!! I was fascinated reading the the biogs etc to discover that Nicky Hopkins played with the Strawbs; I adored his small set of solo work and knew he played with the Stones but it is only since his sad death that I have discovered how often his contribution pops up on work I adore and maybe suggests a common thread that often links such diverse interests from Strawbs to Quicksilver MS.
[Thanks to Alan for the following story - it made me chuckle for about half an hour - I'll pass it onto Dave at the next gig, as I think he'll find it amusing too! - DG]
Here's a little story for the website that concerns one of my favourite Cousins penned songs - "Blue Angel" which of course is now available in all its glory on "Halcyon Days" (to which I am listening at this very moment).
The date is 12 Jul 1973 and I am a very innocent sixteen years and ten days old (you'll find out why I remember it so well in a moment). Because of my father's business commitments, my parents had recently moved to Australia where I joined them on holiday that summer from the UK where I was at boarding school. We'd flown to Alice Springs and joined a very sociable week long coach tour around Ayres Rock, Kings Canyon, Mt. Olga etc. The coach broke down on numerous occasions which only added to the feeling of camaraderie which had evolved.
I became very friendly with a student nurse called Louise who hailed from Perth (believe it or not until just a few months earlier she had been a novice nun). She was a few years older than me and I becamer totally besotted with her. I had a taped copy of Dave Cousins' "Two Weeks Last Summer" with me which I had bought the previous year. I had fallen in love with the track "Blue Angel" and played it and then replayed again and again on my portable cassette player.
On the last evening before the tour split up we had a party at the Oasis Hotel in Alice Springs where we were all staying and in the early hours of the morning I ended up in Louise's chalet listening to music and reading poems.
Well you can imagine what happened can't you? Yes that's right: I put "Blue Angel" on the cassette player and it charged up her emotions so much we ended up kissing and just nine minutes and forty six frenzied seconds later I was no longer the innocent schoolboy I was.
And so that's why every time I hear that wonderful song a wry smile creeps across my lips. There can't be too many Englishmen who have lost their virginity in Alice Springs and fewer still to the strains of "Blue Angel". Thanks for the wonderful memory Dave but, my God, I remember wishing then, just as all the newly discovered muscles in my groin began to ache, that it had been a three minute single rather than one of his huge epics.
I happened to show the CD to a colleague in the next office who's originally from Philadelphia. His response (aside from "Great band") was: "Remind me to tell you about the party I had for them at my house when they played The Main Point. What a great bunch of guys." (He thinks it was '71 [DG suspects it was '72].)
A continuing-to-get-smaller world.
There probably aren't many Strawbs fans in Australia (I've certainly never met another one) but I've carried a candle since 1972. Like what I imagine is a large proportion of Strawbs afficionados in the UK and elsewhere, my first exposure to them was 'Part of the Union' which got a lot of airplay in Australia in 1972 and was also taken up as an unofficial anthem by some unionists at the time (though I do recall hearing at time the same story as to why Hudson and Ford wrote it as is on the Home Page).
Anyway I bought 'Bursting at the Seams' and was taken in by David Cousins' curious voice; Hero & Heroine followed in 1974 and, despite some difficulties, I have been able to acquire most of their subsequent material over the years - albeit usually on visits to Britain or (occasionally) the US. Much to my surprise I found the double CD "Halcyon Days" in a music-store in Melbourne just before Christmas - it's a fantastic compilation, with perhaps the only (mild) disappointment being the absence of anything from Deadlines (eg "Joey & Me" which was one of my favourites from that album).
I'm not aware that Strawbs ever toured Australia - if they did it would have been while I was living in Tasmania which is well off the beaten track as far as tours are concerned.
I am 36 years old, and a Strawbs fan since I was 13. I started collecting records around the same time and my first Strawbs album was "Bursting At The Seams", and I love it til now. My problem is, that I don't know any other Strawbs fan in my town. For many years I thought I was the only one in Germany at all! The lack of information about Strawbs activities in the music press was the reason that I've missed nearly all of the 80's records. I thought, they have split after "Deadlines". The last album I could buy was "Old School Songs" in 1980. The next one was "Ringing Down The Years" in 1991. The one I missed is "Don't Say Goodbye".
My husband Frank saw the Strawbs in the cold Weather City of Chicago. They were the opener for King Crimson, and he can still feel the bitter winter temperatures while walking the 13 blocks to get to the concert hall.
The one characteristic that Frank remembers so vividly is the seemingly "country" mannerisms of Dave Cousins...right down to his "cowboy" boots. Frank said that he got the opportunity to shake Dave's hand near a table selling copies of the album, and after purchasing his own copy of "Antiques" he told him how much he liked the music, to which Dave replied, "Thanks, partner." Although I never had the fortune to see the Strawbs in person myself, I spent the formative years of my life listening to their wonderful music. My first copy of "From the Witchwood" I literally wore out and had to buy a second! $3.33 each from Hegwisch Records!
Although we still seek out and purchase vinyls, we love to add to our own "collection of antiques" with crisp new Strawbs CDs!
I'm an OLD (over 25 years) Strawbs fan from NYC. ....The last time I saw the band was at the Bottom Line, in 1987. The first time was at the old Academy of Music (later the Palladium) in NYC.
It's a funny old world. I thought I was the only owd bugger who remembered the Strawbs.Of all the groups (they were called that before "bands") I heard in the 70s, none more inspired me with Lyrics and sounds as the Strawbs. I had a full collection of LPs of "Curios", "Witchwood" etc, but loaned them out and never got them back. I roam car boot sales but can never find Strawbs LPs. ... I saw them at the Southport Floral Hall in the 70s, then they seemed to disappear after "Part Of The Union".
I just looked over your Strawbs homepage, and was very impressed. I can't wait for the release of Just a Collection of Antiques and Curios, From the Witchwood and Grave New World on CD. I left my vinyl copies in England when I moved to the USA nearly twenty years ago, and on subsequent visits back, I've never been able to find them (I think one of my brothers secretly "borrowed" them for good). I saw the Strawbs in concert a couple of times in the early seventies and those performances will remain with me for the rest of my life.
I got into Strawbs in 72 (I think) when the radio played Queen Of Dreams. I bought the album (Grave New World) and it's still a very good album. Then I bought Dave Cousins' solo album (Blue Angel is one of the best songs I know) and Bursting At The Seams.
After that I, for some reason, stopped buying Strawbs records and followed the careers of Hudson and Ford instead. I think their first two albums are great, the third is very good and the fourth is.... well produced. In 1979 I bought the Monks album which is one of the best New Wave albums I know with a lot of humour. Then I heard nothing about them until I saw your homepage and read about the Monks 2nd album and High Society. I was very happy when both albums were released on CD last summer. The High Society album has been in my CD player since I bought it. Before that I enjoyed Halcyon Days by The Strawbs. The best compilation CD I've got!
I saw them in St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada in 1970 when I was in first year university. The boys had a little too much to drink that night but overall it didn't deter from the concert because so did I. I have purchased and worn out every Strawbs album to this day and now that my turntable is safely packed away (to be brought out only in special company), I was ecstatic to see that "Witchwood,Grave New World, and Ghosts" will now be available on CD. I can't believe it took so long to get these albums released on CD.
I met John Ford in 1971, and we fell for each other big time! I moved to London in 1972 and continued dating him for a while. However, things did not work out. He wrote the song "Free Spirit" and "I Wanted You" for me! I'm dying to know what became of him. I noticed that none of your current Strawb pix are of John. I'd love to get in touch with him. I'm so glad you have a page! I was at the Hudson Ford photo shoot for the LP up at Will Rogers park with the Hudson and the Ford...very fun days, I must say.
I was introduced to the Strawbs in 1970/71 when my brother who was a medical student at Manchester University took me to a concert (my first). At the time I was 13/14 and I was hooked. I subsequently saw them live 4 more times and in 1979 saw Dave Cousins perform at a folk club in Rochester, Kent. I have every LP (no CD's I'm afraid) and still consider myself a fan.
Thank you for your E-Mail concerning the recent Strawbs live shows.Next year I will get to Britain to catch a concert. At the conclusion of the week long gig at the Whisky in Los Angeles in June 1972, the band played "I'm Going Home" as an encore at the end of their last show.
J. Roger Hill
I am a Strawbs fan in Toronto Canada. How big, you ask? Well.....
I am originally from Liverpool, and listened to the BBC World Service a fair bit. In 1972 or so, I heard Part of the Union. I started requesting it at my local radio station, and they started playing it. The Strawbs later visited Hamilton, Ontario, as the back up band for King Crimson (!!!), with a bona fide hit on their hands, because of me. This started a life long love affair with The Strawbs that continues to this day.
Once I was old enough to go to concerts, I took my camera along. I still have slides of the band taken in Toronto from the mid 70's, and from Buffalo New York, when they appeared on a double bill with Renaissance.
I first saw the Strawbs sometime in 1969, in the Angel pub in Hayes, so the line-up would have been Dave, Tony, Ron and Claire. One of the supports was the excellent Tudor Lodge. Though I must admit to having lost some interest around the of Bursting at the Seams............
In about 1980 we put Dave Cousins on in a back bar at Sheffield University great gig good chat unfortunately spoilt by the theft of Dave's rather exotic boots !!! (They were exotically painted platforms from memory, and the cause of much swearing and cursing.) . They never did turn up.
Ken recalled some of the Strawbs-related recorded interviews he has heard:
Nomadness was recorded with no mellotron at all. Cousins was concerned that if he made another album in the vein of Bursting, Hero or Ghosts that the band would get pigeonholed into that style and its audience would dwindle. He admitted it was a calculated risk but felt it had to be done. He also stated that Nomadness contained the best collection of songs they had ever done for an album, and that he would stand by that assessment come what may. He said he would not have stood by some of the previous material so strongly. The interview was with Doug Pringle of CHOM-FM in Montreal.
It's hard to believe he said this given his assessment around the time of "Choice Selection", in which he said the album was made when he didn't have the mental capacity or something to that effect. In retrospect, Nomadness is not all that bad. In fact, in terms of songwriting, there are gems - To Be Free, Golden Salamander, So Shall our Love Die, and Hanging in the Gallery. It is probably the most diverse collection they ever amassed, but it does come off a little contrived and without focus when taken as a whole. Take a few of each of the songs and distribute them on other albums and they would fit in well.
Cousins was interviewed by Bobby Boulanger in Montreal on the Ghosts tour and ranted about the sad state of radio in Britain and about how the Strawbs weren't getting any airplay and that was why they were working in America most of the time. He mentioned how he resented when someone referred to the Strawbs as a God rock band. He admitted he was fairly religious but, for instance, Lay a Little Light on me was very anti-religious.
I saw the Strawbs many times but one stands out. 1973 at the Tower in Philadelphia. Dave came to the Irish pub next to the Tower to hang out and tip a few. Real cool guy and great show.
Remembering back, 1975 brought one of the finest albums at least in my collection, Strawbs "Ghosts." I must have listened to it over and over the first few weeks morning and evening. Being a high school senior then that wasn't anything out of the ordinary then or even now. I had the lp and the 8 track (remember those?). Now all of this would not seem so startling except it was in the mountains of North Carolina at the time. An area that is usually reserved for Marshall Tucker and Charlie Daniel's most of the time.
Then sometime in mid March or April, I can't recall the exact time the announcement of the day came when a concert advertisement for Santana with "special guests" the Strawbs was to happen in little "ol" Asheville, NC. I bought my ticket (all of $10-12) at that time and headed for the concert the following week. The Asheville Civic Center was fairly new then, and quite large for a community the size of Asheville. I remember the house lights going down around 8 and the band taking the stage. Dave Cousins, Dave Lambert, Chas. Cronk, Rod Combes and John Hawken where all present and the opening strains of Autumn rolled in. Heaven! I then seem to remember, Lemon Pie, Down by the Sea, Round and Round, Midnight Sun, The Life Auction, and I believe, Grace Darling and finally Hero and Heroine. Now, this is what I seem to recall, I also recall having the flu and 102 temperature but they would have had to wheel me in on a gurney, there was no way I was missing that concert.
I checked the tour journal on the web page and do not recall seeing the Strawbs on any of the entries about that time, but I do have some rather blurry Kodak Instamatic 110 photos buried somewhere in a box and a T-shirt that is rather faded and several sizes too small now.
I have wanted to see them again, but living in California since 1975 they haven't ever been to the Central Coast area and have been in the UK several times but unfortunately not when they have been performing.
I was watching TOTP2 last Saturday (we can receive BBC on cable here) which was showing Abba and I therefore I was not looking and paid not much attention when suddenly I heard a familiar intro. And there they were : The Strawbs with 'Lay Down'. Luckily I had a videorecorder standing by and recorded the most part. This was the first time I have seen them on TV since they had their single "I Only Want My Love To Grow In You" out in Holland and appeared on Dutch television which must have been 1976 !. I hope they were announced properly this time .......
I saw them at the Turks Head many moons ago, I think it was on the first of many reunion tours. The line up was as of Grave New World, and it is probably one of my favourite ever band combinations. If I have two other best gig memories, I would nominate Deep Cuts at Drury Lane, or one of the Dave and Brian soirees, possibly Richmond open air 'on the river' freebies, or maybe Hitchin folk club, back in the eighties!
Jay & Lynda Rosen
My vivid Strawbs story was taking a friend to see a show at the Beacon Theatre in NY and he was really going to see Gary Wright and he was utterly blown away by the Strawbs, I believe it was the Ghosts tour!!!!
You also asked me if I had any stories about seeing them. I just turned 29 and I don't remember being old enough to ever see them. I started listening to them when I was about 10 because I had an uncle who was into Cat Stevens and he read an article where Cat said his favorite group at that time was The Strawbs. So he went out and bought an album and became a fan. His wife at the time was from England so when she would go and visit her parents she'd buy Strawbs albums that we couldn't get in the States.
I first heard the band on a rainy day in Wellington and was hooked by "Antiques and Curios". "Witchwood" and "Grave New World" followed and produced a true believer as did "Two Weeks Last Summer".
I managed to see the lads at Newcastle in 1974. They played after some god awful disco and a rock'n'roll revival band for which my long suffering wife has never forgiven them. It was a good but too short concert with Dave seemingly in his element but the others a little more professional and aloof. They shot off stage while he shook hands and chatted.
I meant to them at Gravesend but never made it and I missed out on Genesis because Steve Hackett cut his hand. Foolishly they called off an Oz/NZ tour where I beieve they would have been big (as the Fairports have been)but they concentrated on the land of the fee instead. So they've never been here. I'll try and lean on the British council and you never know, but the absence of CDs here probably means most other than me mates have forgotten how good they were/are. My kids have no feel for their stuff but given the huge popularity of Celtic music here they could make an impact and Halcyon Days might just trigger interest.
I managed, via The Record Shop (0181 546 3880) to get a copy of the Si-Wan 'Grave New World'. Not a bad transfer, great artwork copy, and shed-loads of memories along for free! It was the first album I ever bought, my mate Duncan Gordon (where are you now?) must have worn the grooves off the little bugger, the amount of playing it got.
I have been a fan for 23 years and the way I discovered them was when I heard Hero and Heroine on the radio when I was visiting my grandparents down in south Florida. I heard that album and I went out and bought the next day. Then I discovered they had other albums and I was hooked on their unique style. I wished they would have played more of it on the radio. I would love to have Ghosts on a CD. That would be the topping on the cake. I also would love to see them in concert if I could. If I had the money I would have flown over to England and see them in concert. I play guitar and I am going to copy right my songs next month. They have had a big impact in my life and maybe someday I would like to meet the one and only Dave Cousins and have a jam session with him.
I really don't understand why a company like A&M would bury an excellent group that the Strawbs were in the 70s & 80s. I first encountered them with the Grave New World release. I loved the LP and was lucky to catch them live in DC - a small venue. The fly in the ointment was that the Strawbs performed first and for a very short set list. The headliner was the comic Dick Gregory. My favorite release is Hero and Heroine with Grave New World and Ghosts my choices for US release... pronto.
I have recently had chance to view two of the Strawbs' four known appearances on the British charts show Top Of The Pops. The first was the short-lived "album slot" which Rick Wakeman has categorised in Gooding's biography of him as: "where all the teenyboppers could go out for a wee wee." Wakeman used to use a paint roller to play his organ solo on "Sheep", and there it was in full shot as Cousins delivered one of his most serious and powerful songs. Most of the other band members were prominently featured, particularly Wakeman, whose star was in the ascendant in July 1971 when the show went out, apart from poor old Hud, who seemed always to be out of shot.
The third time the band hit TOTP was of course "Part Of The Union" (there may well have been more than one appearance around this period as the song was in the charts for a few weeks). John Ford was very much to the fore, with Hud standing at the back on a podium beating out the rhythm on an absurdly big bass drum strapped to him, which bore the legend "Amalgamated Union of Strawbs Workers". Dave Cousins, strumming along on his then-trademark Rickenbacker, hadn't yet adopted his designer stubble look, but had abandoned the goatee for a close-cropped full beard, and was sporting a jaunty striped blazer.
My first introduction to the Strawbs was the second of their appearances, performing "Lay Down". I still have a "pop photo card" of Dave on that show, white smock, goatee and Rickenbacker, but haven't seen a video of that show to this day. Nor did I EVER see the new-look band when they appeared on TOTP to perform "Shine On Silver Sun."
Has anyone got a video of either of these two appearances ? And of course there are various appearances by Hudson-Ford ("Pick Up The Pieces", "Burn Baby Burn") and The Monks ("Nice Legs") If so, please contact Dick Greener.
I thought a little reminder of the Suffolk & Good one day festival a few years back would be a good idea. I remember I went with my good friend Blue. He was suffering badly because of an iffy relationship (that is now happily all patched up and still going strong). I thought a day out in the country would do him good. As I recall, the weather was glorious and the beer cold and despite the fact that Blue spent most of the afternoon asleep on the hill, the occasion was enjoyed immensely.
The other players included Bert Jansch and John Martyn. It was during his set that I was threatened by a bully boy security guard because I was videoing him from the side of the lighting rig. I was only playing with my new camcorder but I suppose he thought I was Spielberg. During the day I ran into various Strawbs at odd locations. I helped Rod Demick put his little camping stove together in the merchandising tent. I had a chat with Tony Hooper in one of the (surprisingly clean) portaloos whilst we were both getting rid of some of the beer we had drunk.
The Strawbs finally appeared just as it was getting dark by which time Blue had woken up and we had all moved down to the front of the stage. As ever, the gig was superb with all the favourites as well as some recent stuff receiving tremendous applause. The best bit was watching them all trying to keep up with one another during their hectic live version of Hero And Heroine - I've seen them play that on a number of occasions recently and each time it seems to get faster and faster. I remember that I went away from that Suffolk field feeling somewhat tired because it had been a long day. Blue however, was raring to go until I reminded him that he had spent most of the day asleep.
I bought my first ever girlfriend "From the Witchwood" after she played me Antiques and Curios back in 1971. I seemed to have stayed on board ever since. I first saw the Strawbs in early 1974 at The Theatre Royal Drury Lane (no listing from anyone as yet on what was played and no, sorry my memory isn't that good). I next saw them 18 years later when they played a festival at Wiveliscombe in Somerset in June (?) 1992 (again not listed and again I remember few of the tracks played except I believe the keyboard player had only joined them at the very last minute and on a moments notice? - or am I really getting senile). The Wiveliscombe concert was incredible. To see them play again which I never thought would happen and in the intimate atmosphere of a school hall was something I will never forget - except of course what they played! I last saw them on the Lindisfarne/Strawbs tour in Lincoln - again a great night. I have met Dave Cousins on 3 occasions. I once interviewed him for Hereward Radio when he was MD of Devon Air, I have met him at The Radio Academy Festival and also at the Lincoln gig. He is a most charming man who never seems to mind engaging in conversation on The Strawbs, radio and life in general, and through his music has given me many hours of pleasure. Long may the Strawbs play together and I sincerely hope you succeed in your campaign to get more of their music available for us to enjoy.
Per Lyngby Pedersen
I've been a fan of the group since the early 70's. My favourites are "Grave New World", "From The Witchwood", "Hero and Heroine" and especially "Blue Angel", which features Jon Hiseman from Coloseum on the drums.
Sadly I've only had the chance to hear the group live once, at The Midtfyns Festival in Denmark July 1987. I even got the concert on a casette - bad quality - but great memories. The line up was: Dave Cousins, Chris Parren, Rod Demick, Richard Hudson, Tony Hooper and Brian Willoughby.
Rick Wakeman did a concert at the same festival, and I think that he did play together with Dave Cousins alone - not with The Strawbs. Can anybody confirm this?
Mark Meredith, Trinidad, West Indies
When I was 13 my father was sent to work in Cape Town for five years. It was 1971, the darkest days and Apartheid and there was no way any teenager could hope to see a live band from overseas tour South Africa. With TV still five years away and no gigs it was a barren place to grow up. My friends and I lived for buying music, it's all there was. Bands and singers became icons; we learned lyrics, played air guitar and hung around in record shops, hogging the rows of headphones, asking the staff to play albums we pretended we had money to buy. But more than anything we longed to see a well known band play LIVE. It was THE goal. The nearest we came was a cinema release of Concert for Bangladesh.
The band I wanted to see more than any other was the Strawbs, and the singer, Dave Cousins. After I heard Bursting at the Seams and Hero and Heroine I never looked back and have bought every album I could. My friends at home and school got hooked on the Strawbs as well . A&M did pretty well out of Cape Town. When I returned to England at 18, still having never seen a live band, I made up for lost time. But there was no sign of the Strawbs. And I played their music even more; it reminded me of my mates, sob!
Then I saw an advert for a Strawbs tour with a big gig at the legendary - to me, anyway - Hammersmith Odeon. It was 1978, the Deadlines tour, and the most exciting moment of my life. I sat and stared at all those guitars, the mandolins, a giant gong, banks of keyboards and enormous speakers. Years of dreaming were coming true. My heart pounded. Mist filtered on to the stage , the gentle accoustic strumming of Ghosts began to fill the hall, eerie lighting illuminated shadows with guitars....
It was everything I'd thought it would be and better. Dave Cousins' sounded fantastic and I was knocked out by the power of his voice. The sad postscript to that evening was that the happiest night turned out one of the most dissappointing. I went with my sister and another girl to the gig and we lived 40 minutes from London and had come by train. So we had to leave early to get the last train and missed a big chunk of the show! I felt grief-stricken walking back up the isle and out of the door, Dave's voice echoing a very sad refrain.
Since then I've seen them at The Half Moon in Putney, and a couple of years ago in Fareham, Hampshire. One memorable evening was seeing Dave Cousins and Brian Willoughby at St Martin in the Fields crypt! Don't think the ghosts in those old walls ever heard someone belt out numbers like Dave did.
I live in Trinidad now where you won't hear the Strawbs, except in my house. Dave Cousins, if you ever read these pages, and fancy some sunshine, come and lay down here, anytime.
The only time that my wife Alison and I were fortunate enough to see The Strawbs play live was on November 3rd, 1987 at the Diamond Club in Toronto. We had been Strawbs fans for many years...although didn't become aware of them until the 'Nomadness' album in the mid-70's. I then proceeded to purchase first the double 'Classic Strawbs' greatest hits package, followed later by their entire back catalogue as I became aware of the wealth of excellent material the band had recorded.
Anyway, this concert was on their 'Don't Say Goodbye' tour, and although I hadn't heard the new material prior to the show (I went out to buy the LP the following day!) we were very impressed with the mix of old and new songs, the personal charm of Dave Cousins and his rapport with the audience and of course the outstanding performance of the band.
It was a bit frustrating at first, given that the show was on a week night, and they had one or two very poor warm-up acts to start off. The Strawbs didn't come on until 11 p.m. or so, but as soon as they started (after a couple of minutes of technical difficulties with Dave's guitar!) the atmosphere was terrific. They played until about 2 a.m. (which was an hour longer than the legal drinking time in Toronto in those days!), which meant that we were both exhausted having to get up for work the next morning...but we wouldn't have missed it for the world!
I don't think The Strawbs have played Toronto since then, which is our great loss. We're hoping that they will grace our shores again someday soon.
Dr. Steven G. Moseley
My life changed in 1977. Through the tragic loss of my cousin to Leukemia at the age of 21, this (then) 11 year old boy was to discover the delights of music and literature that had hitherto eluded him. Being given the vast book and record collection of my cousin, the records by the Strawbs, Moody Blues, Jethro Tull and many others) began a lifelong sojourn into the classic music of our age - music from the days of progressive, new, vibrant and meaningful music from bands destined to last the tests of time. In twenty years, my record collection has swelled with albums from bands such as the Strawbs, albums such as 'Grave New World' and 'Hero and Heroine', which deserve a place in any connoisseur's collection.
After almost 15 years I finally achieved my musical ambition of seeing Dave and the boys (in Chesterfield), and the brief few minutes spent talking with them, and (of course!) gaining their autographs, is something I'll always remember. Whenever I play a Strawbs track I think briefly of Paul, and that what gave pleasure to so many people twenty years ago will still be doing so in another twenty. Long may the Strawbs keep entertaining and stimulating their audience with their truly wonderful music.
[Strawbs] were and are one of my favourite bands of all times and indirectly, helped me to get my job with A&M Records of Canada. I have had the pleasure of seeing them in concert three times, once at Kleinhans Music Hall in Buffalo, New York (with Betty White opening up the show), in Toronto in the late '70's at Massey Hall, and again in 1987 in Ottawa, when they played Barrymore's. At that time we had just put out the first Strawbs album on Virgin (which A&M distributed in Canada) called Don't Say Goodbye .... We also put out "Ringing Down The Years" on Virgin which featured the single in Canada "Might As Well Be On Mars", written by two Canadian songwriters.
Canadian radio must play at least 30% Canadian content, which is made up of four parts. It is known as M.A.P.L. or "maple", as it is referred to in Canada. M=music, A-artist, P=producer, l=lyrics. To qualify as cancon, a song must have at least two of those four parts. As an example, Canadian songwriter Marc Jordan wrote a song which Rod Stewart covered. Because the M+L (music & lyrics) were written by a Canadian, the song qualified as cancon, thus Rod Stewart is "Canadian". Because Bryan Adams, who is Canadian, co-writes with non-Canadians, and records his music overseas with a non-Canadian producer, is not Canadian, (but remember, Rod Stewart is because he is singing a song written wholly by a Canadian).
Because a song is cancon (Canadian content), radio can play it more easily because they have to play at least 30% Canadian content. If the song was not cancon, they would rather play the latest Phil Collins or whomever track, than a track by the Strawbs. That is why the band recorded "Might as Well be on Mars". The track was written by two Canadians, and released on their own album as PUKKA ORCHESTRA which was released on Virgin Records Canada, during the time when Doug Chappell was the president of Virgin Canada. Since Doug was a close friend of Dave Cousins and the Strawbs, he got them to record the single because it was cancon and would help the band get on the air in Canada. Doug also helped produce the Classic Strawbs album which was only released in Canada.
I first saw the Strawbs in 1995 at the Walton Folk Festival. My Dad took me there as a present for my sixteenth birthday. I had always wanted to meet the boys. I have liked them since my Dad played an album to me when I was eleven, my dream was to meet Dave Cousins, because I think he is brilliant. I saw both of the concerts that day and they were fantastic. I remember hearing the song Blue Angel, which I think is the best thing that they have ever done.
After the first concert I was supprised to find the Strawbs in the bar area. I went to get their autographs. I wanted to get a photograph of Dave Cousins, but I was to shy to ask him, so my Dad went asked him if I could have a photo taken with him. He said, " I'd be delighted". So I had my photo taken with him, he was very nice, although I felt like an idiot because I never really spoke to him. (Wish I had.) I loved that day, and I would like to thank the Strawbs for making it the best birthday ever. Cheers guys, you're the best!
One of the live shows I saw was December 74, part of the tour for the "Ghosts" album. As the lights came down, they played a tape of a brief, unreleased song through the sound system, before opening up with Ghosts. The song sounded like it was recorded during the same sessions as the Ghosts album itself. Might you know the name of the song and whether it has ever been released?
Dick Greener responds: I don't know the name of the song, but I have recently been sent a tape of a show in Calderone, New Jersey in 1975 which features the song as the opening number. I hadn't appreciated that the song was on tape though. It sounds like a Ghosts or Nomadness outtake. I haven't got round to the lyrics yet, but it ends with:
"And if you let me, I'll love you forever
And make you the voice of the words of my song."
An entry in the All Movie Guide indicates that the Strawbs did words and music for a movie Jim the World's Greatest". Released in 1976, directed by Don A. Coscarelli and Craig Mitchell, the Guide has this to say: "A teenage boy struggles to cope with his alcoholic father and physically abused little brother in this drama that was written, photographed, and directed by two 17-year olds. Their parents produced the film for $250,000."
Hidden away in the credits: "Strawbs: Music and Lyrics" (along with Dan Peek. Anyone seen this, or got any further information ? (Thanks to Ken for this snippet.)
I met and partied once with the Strawbs (on the Hero and Heroine tour - Foghat and Frampton) in Roanoke VA . Dave Cousins - great guy - explained many of the lyrics in detail (Queen of Hearts, Witchwood, Heavy Disguise and more - I can't remember now). It was the night they were on Midnight Special. we went to their room to watch, then to Hotel Roanoke for drinks. Dave Lambert jamed with the house band (they recognised him and were fans ) and he showed them some of his riffs. John Hawken and Chas Cronk were as sick as dogs and left early but Chas was telling me about Wakeman's Journey concert. He said it didn't go off that great but he had heard some of the mix downs and said it was more impressive later (a couple of months before release).
The New York area was a major stronghold for the band back in the Seventies. I saw them three times at the Capitol Theatre in Passaic, New Jersey, on the "Ghosts," "Nomadness," and "Deep Cuts" tours. Wonderful shows, which I still recall fondly. WMMR-FM in Philadelphia and WNEW-FM in New York used to play their stuff quite regularly. More recently, the various reunion tours that have made it to the States have done very well in our area, especially at the Bottom Line in New York.
Patrick J. Clews
I have been following the Strawbs since 1973 but have worked in the Far East since 1981 so have been out of touch with news of the band except for browsing through the London record shops once a year on my annual leave.
I first grew to like the Strawbs after buying Bursting at the Seams for one pound at a second hand record shop in Accrington, Lancs. I didn't expect to like the album at first - I was more into Deep Purple and Jethro Tull at the time - but suddenly it started to grow on me - particularly The River, Down by the Sea and Flying. Soon, I had all the Strawbs albums and most of their singles as well. I'm sure that everyone who has contributed to the Strawbs Stories has been moved by the song writing prowess of Dave Cousins. Listening to the line from The Vision of the Lady of the Lake: "As he felt a hand on his shoulder - he whirled..." still sends shivers down my spine.
I've seen the Strawbs twice in the late seventies and met Dave in 1978 after a superb acoustic show at the Half Moon in Putney with Brian Willoughby. I only spoke to him briefly but remember him mentioning that he'd written some songs in Grange over Sands in Lancashire.
I first saw the Strawbs in Hamburg, I think it was, with Sandy Denny in a club but I didn't realise then who they were since they weren't absolutely brill. Then I saw them at the Guildford Civic Hall, doing stuff from Dragonfly and I was hooked : The Hangman and the Papist then appealed to my sense of the Gothic - it was before the really big concept albums had even been heard of. But I think I really was hooked when Rick Wakeman came on board: That's the classic stuff, Just a Collection of Antiques and Curios, Grave New World. I HATED "Part of the Union".!!! LOVE Six Wives! And curiously, I've never been hugely enamoured of Dave Cousins' voice, yet Two Weeks Last Summer is wonderful... if only I could still find my original copy. I lost track of the Strawbs a little after the beginning of the Eighties, but sentimentalist that I am, they still hold a big spot in my heart, along with the likes of Lindisfarne, Nicky Hopkins, Roy Harper, Family, Nilsson and others, and only a month ago I bought the BBC sessions. It's rather weird reviving the past so dramatically, but fun!!
I've been a fan for a long time. Actually my brother was with Dave when he finished writing Autumn. I've met Dave a few times in New York as well. I met him when they played the academy and the Capitol Theater. and also saw Dave solo at the Bottom Line It's good to see that there is still a following.
Tim & Linda Hardy
[Hi Tim, Linda, regards to Mike - Dick]
Whatever happened to the acoustic set that Dave and Brian recorded at the Dovecot Arts Centre [in Stockton on Tees just along the road from Radio Tees where Dave was Controller in the early 1980s] about fifteen years ago? It contains what I still believe is the definitive version of Ringing Down the Years. They actually played the song twice the night of the recording because the tape spool ran empty half way through the first rendition.
[Don't know for certain, but I'll ask. There were fliers for the album sent out by Cousins' manager and I gather a number of people sent in money (to the agency not to Dave or the Strawbs!) without ever receiving any albums. It'll be interesting to see whether the tapes still exist. - DG]
I've been a fan since Benedictus days. Saw them in 1976 during the Nomadness tour and later during the Deep Cuts tour as well as around '85 at the Bottom Line in NYC.
I saw the Strawbs on April 28, 1973 in NYC, when they opened for King Crimson. I had never heard of them prior to the concert. I remember my friend Jeff looking at Blue Weaver and saying to me: "Is that Keith Emerson on keyboards?" It was a wonderful concert, and of course, made me an instant convert to the band. One of my favourite songs is "Words of Wisdom" on Deadlines, which is not one of their better albums. Thanks for the great website!
It is a interesting story about how my father came to like Strawbs. I think that he was in Toronto, Canada about maybe 25 years ago when he just bought a bunch of unknown records including Witchwood. The first time he listened to it, he fell in love. So he proceeded to buy every Strawbs album he could find. My mother fell in love with the album Ghosts. So Strawbs was played very often in my home when I was young. Our record player broke when I was about 7 years old so I did not hear Strawbs again for years.
My father would play Strawbs on his guitar but other than the handful of songs that he played, I did not hear much of it. When I was about 15 years old, we got another record player and I started listening to all our old records. A bunch of good old memories came from all those albums that I had not heard for years. The first song that struck me as being "intense" was The Hangman and the Papist. From there I just fell in love with Strawbs.
There are three events in my life where I remember where I was, and what I was doing. The first was when John Kennedy was assassinated, the second was when the first lunar landing was accomplished, and the third was when I heard Hero and Heroine for the first time. When I say I heard it for the first time, I mean that moment when it reached in beyond aural senses and embraced my spirit. I had received a copy of the album through a tape of the month club quite by accident, as I had failed to send in my chosen selection for the month. When I first listened to it, it didn't impress me much and I put it away for several weeks. Then one afternoon as I was driving to work, I plugged it in my tape player for something different to listen to, the song Shine on Silver Sun came on, and in an instant I was captivated by the excellent orchestration and sensitivity of the music. The "Big H" soon became and remains my favourite album of all times, and suddenly the Beatles were not so important after all.
I have been a Strawbs fan since 1973, when a record shop owner played me a copy of "Lay Down" for the first time. Needless to say, I was hooked. Going off to college later that year, I found that I was not alone, and got introduced to import copies of the 1st and 2nd LP's, as well as a concert by the group in town ($2.00, and the best concert I have ever seen).
In 1987, while touring on "Don't Say Goodbye" in Philadelphia, I happened to be introduced to the group by their road manager(a young woman who pulled me out of a crowd because of the hand-painted Strawbs t-shirt I was wearing-and, have carefully stored since!) It was great meeting them, old and new members all.
A mention on the song "Forever:" I had purchased the UK LP "Strawbs by Choice," and was introduced to the song there. I was asked to sing a couple of songs at a friend's wedding, and chose "Forever." I could not make out the second verse: "Oh weeping willow, please share my pillow, so that the clouds may billow...Forever." So I wrote Dave Cousins, and he responded with the lyrics, and said that because the backing track and vocals were recorded in Copenhagen and England, the vocals got muddied. The song was, by the way, very well received at the wedding (credit was properly given!).
I saw the Lone Star Cafe show in NY in 1985 and the Strawbs were great! During the intermission, I was ordering a beer, and I turned around and who should be standing behind me but Dave Cousins himself! I asked him if I could buy him a beer and he said "Sure, as long as you and your friend join me!" So, we each had a beer, and then Brian Willoughby came by and talked to us for a while. The mood was pretty good, so I took a chance and asked if they would mind autographing a tape for me. I had a homemade recording of Ghosts & Hero and Heroine in my jacket pocket, and they both signed the cover for me. It was a great show, and I'm glad that I did get to see them, because I don't know when I'll get the chance again. As it was, I wouldn't have even heard about that concert if it hadn't been for my friend.
Anne (Steichen) Pancella
Ghosts was the first Strawbs album I ever heard, and is still my favorite. It was the winter of 1975 -- I was 18 -- and a radio station in Milwaukee, where I'd just come for college, was giving it fairly heavy airplay. I liked the tracks I heard, esp. the title track and "Lemon Pie", so I bought the LP. I soon began buying the back catalogue as well.
The Strawbs quickly became my favorite band. I listened to lots of music, and had other albums I cherished, but there was no other band that I found as interesting to follow. I liked the folk influences in their music, and the effect produced by alternating Dave Cousins' vocal intensity with singers who had more conventional voices (Hooper, Hudson Ford, Lambert -- pick your era). And their lyrical universe, where melancholy was made bearable by beauty and sex and the knowledge of God, was a place where I felt right at home.
In 1977 and 1978 I put out seven issues of a fanzine called Simple Visions, which started out as a Strawbs fanzine but soon included some other bands. In those days (pre-WWW) you had to go to a lot of trouble to find a few people who shared your enthusiasms. I only printed 100 copies of each issue, so I was pretty surprised to read right here that someone remembered the fanzine and still had copies. If anyone wants copies, contact me. I kept one copy of each issue, which I can xerox. The writing (me and others) is reasonably thoughtful, as you would expect from fans of thoughtful bands like the Strawbs.
I never got an opportunity to hear the Strawbs live, much to my regret. I did meet Dave Cousins briefly in 1979; he was dead tired, but his wife was nice.
DG - According to the Cousins-written A&M promotional material, "Ghosts" was written, unusually, on the road in Indianapolis, rather than in Cousins' beloved West country. From Cousins' hotel window he could see the War Memorial square and its victory column - it looked more like a provincial English town than anything else he had seen in the US. The room had a lion's head bedspread and a grinning skull pendant light, all of which contributed to the nightmare which followed. Anne travelled to Indianapolis and sends the following:
They must have been staying at one of two hotels that were there at the time. From one, the Hilton, you can see both of the war memorials. From the other, you can see one of the memorials (the one honoring WW I) and a very unusual neo-Tudor/Gothic Masonic temple that looks something like an English Cathedral. What I had never thought about was that he might have used the war memorials more literally than I thought. For instance, one, a very tall column-like structure, has a statue of "Victory" on top. He/she has a sword in one hand, held downward) and a torch or maybe a bird in the other. Might this be the source of the angel in the song, whose "sword of peace defends the night?"
Chris Taberham (via Sid Smith
I have so many varied and happy memories of the Strawbs visiting Newcastle Upon Tyne (in the North East of England) during the 1970's. They were great years and here's one or two personal highlights. I first saw the band in 1970 at Newcastle's City hall supporting The Spinners, a Liverpool group of "folk entertainers" (excellent and much missed). It was here that I fell in love with the music and lyrics of Dave Cousins. I had to wait a couple of years before I met the man himself and our Tardis stops off at Newcastle's City Hall on 24th February 1972 and the Grave New World tour.
The country was in turmoil at the time due to the struggle between the Government of the day and the Power workers. This led to various areas having their electricity rationed resulting in power black outs - great fun if you're in your teens. Anyway upon arrival at the venue we were told that the concert couldn't go ahead until at 7.30 as the power wouldn't be back on until 9.00 p.m. It looked like we were going to have a long dark and cold wait.
This however was not the case, as with guitar in hand Mr. Cousins, Richard Hudson and support act, Jonathan Kelly, emerged in the street and entertained us for a good half hour with songs. Many of these were not in the tour set list and so were a great bonus. This was followed with much chatting, questions and answers and so on. I remember thinking, and indeed still do, that this was a marvellous gesture and such a warm thing to have done.
As the years went by, after an initial invitation from Dave, I became a regular back stage visitor to Tyneside performances and got to know various band members very well indeed, to the point were they remembered things I had spoken about on previous visits.
One of my favourite memories is of a gig the band played at the Mayfair Ballroom, Newcastle on 25th October in 1974. An old Mecca ballroom is a strange place. A stage on one side and a bingo hall at the other, which for some reason the band were using as a dressing room. I happened to mention to Dave that I was looking forward to hearing a new song he'd written called Grace Darling. Without hesitation he treated me to a private performance of the song. Afterwards he asked me my views of the lyrics and music.
Then I recall he sang it again. So there we were in the middle of a 1960's bingo room which also consisted of row upon row slot machines looking like something the Dalek's may have used for entertainment.
I kept in touch with Dave via Christmas cards well into the 1980's, sadly losing touch when he moved from Radio Tees to return to Devon. I will always cherish these and the many, many more memories of my all time favourite band and its members, past and present."
When I lived in Nottingham I used to listen to a radio show called "Herebedragons" which was on a Sunday evening - the DJ, John Shaw, used to play the occasional Strawbs track. I remember being knocked out by Grave New World. The chance came to see the Strawbs play at Bingham Leisure Centre! My first gig!
The room was not very promising, some sort of sports hall with a load of trestle tables and the essential bar. The support act were Gordon Giltrap and Ric Sanders and were excellent, if a little folky for my friends. The Strawbs were absolutely amazing. It was one of those nights when they can really knock you dead with the emotion and power of the music. Dave Cousins made everyone in the audience feel such a part of what went on, with his stories of Sandy Denny, Devon (of course) and Autumn trees. For each song there seemed a story and the set list was ace. I only knew Grave New World and Part of the Union at the time, but loved all the other material.
After the show, me and my friend Jim just had to go and talk to the band. Brian Willoughby was friendly if not over talkative, as was Tony Hooper. Dave Cousins was ace, I think he could see the look on our faces and realise we'd been Strawbed! He told us we were the youngest people he'd seen at live dates for years (we were 18 at the time!).
At the Walton Folk Festival Sept '95 they played two sets - afternoon and evening. Some German fans gave them a case of strong beer which entertained them between sets. I'm amazed they could stand for the evening show let alone play! Well Rick WAS sitting down. I seem to remember him going to the toilets during one of the sets - possibly the afternoon. He had a serious quantity of beer in the soundcheck!
The Mellotron business was great fun. It was renovated by Mellotron Archive a few months before and Blue was VERY impressed by the condition and playability. He was originally only going to use it for New World (essential!) but I think he fell in love all over again. He ended up using it at every opportunity.
I don't know how much you (or anyone) knows about the anatomy of these beasts but the Mellotron 400 plays tapes mounted in a frame. It is possible to get 3 sounds on a frame. Blue uses Brass Choir & Strings so I got Mellotron Archive to custom buils a frame for the gig (this is not cheap children - don't try it at home). The date of the festival loomed close and the frame had not arrived. It appeared there were problems with the recording equipment. Eventually with 3 days to go Martin Smith (of Mellotron Archive) phoned me saying it was impossible to do in time! "Don't panic" he said. "But I don't have a brass voice at all!" I replied. "OK I'll send you a frame with brass and strings on it. You've got one with strings and choir on it. So you just have to change tapes between songs......" PANIC!
Tape frame arrived. When Blue found out that it would be neccessary to change tape frames mid-set he was most amused and suggested we make a "Big Thing" of it. Not many people have seen this done and it would be rather fun. He most accomodatingly reordered the set list so there would only be one tape change. Come the set, Dave Cousins mutters something about Blue's "Paleolithic" keyboards and I amble on holding what looks like some advanced meccano, all pulleys and springs. Up comes the lid of the beast, the keyboard is unbolted, the tape frame is unbolted, the tape removed with a flourish and the new one dropped in. Before it can be bolted into place the tapes have to be pulled out to their full extent to get rid of static. Audience:- dumb bewilderment. Blue:- laughing like a drain and playing along. Cousins:- averts eyes. I'm told this operation is necessary though I'm not convinced. However it looks bloody impressive!
Next day on the Sunday the festival organisers have billed "Mellotron Workshop"!!! Now I can't really play the thing so I was rather relying on Blue to tinkle the keys while I did the talking (he claims to know little about them). It turned out to be the best attended workshop of the festival and Blue enthralled a crowd of sad anoraks (only joking) for 90 minutes. Playing such classics as Strawberry Fields and Nights in White Satin. And seemingly endless yarns. He was as interested as the attendees to learn of the history and development. Then we found out something quite uncanny.
When I bought the machine it was a bit of a mess with a little damage to it. I was told that this had occurred during a period in c.1975 when it had been hired to Mott The Hoople. I mentioned this to Blue, who said that it couldn't be. He had been the keyboard player on that tour and the mellotron would have been covered in fag burns. "It was. I've spent a fortune having it restored!".
Well it's nice to see old chums reunited and he signed inside the lid. I offered to lend it whenever the Strawbs were next playing in the South East but he's probably lost my number (I've also lost his) perhaps you could pass on the repeat of the offer. [Certainly will - DG]
... To my mind the 'tron was one of the most important elements of the Strawbs sound. "Prog Rock" keyboards in Folk? - No problem! My own band continues the tradition with such gems as "Rocky Road to Dublin for Banjo, Mellotron and Synthesiser, and I'm as sane as the next sheep!
The first time was at the Beacon Theater in New York City in Oct. in '74. ... The opening act was The Pretty Things who opened with a dreadful boogie that they wrote just for the occasion-"Freakin' at the Beacon" After that they weren't bad though. Strawbs were supporting "Ghosts" and the show was very heavy in songs from that album. The only other thing I remember is that they did not do a lot of acoustic or softer numbers. Probably because of the medium size of the venue, not unlike The Tower in Philadelphia.
The second was on their "Nomadness" tour at Bucks County Community College in Newtown, Pennsylvania about 45 minutes north of Philadelphia. I only remember that they played for about an hour and that they opened with "To Be Free".
I just hooked on to the Internet two months ago and was thrilled when I found that the Strawbs have a homepage. I lived in Mansfield, MA, USA -- not exactly the obscure music capital of the world. The Strawbs were the first concert I ever saw -- Nov. 1975 at the Capital Theatre in Passaic, NJ -- and I was hooked. The band then consisted of Dave Cousins, Dave Lambert, Chas Cronk, Rod Coombes and (I think unofficially) John Mealing. I caught them again one year later on Dec. 4, and to this day it ranks as one of the finest concerts I have ever seen. I had it on tape for a few years (WNEW-FM in New York broadcast it live). I can remember walking with my brother three miles in 20-degree temperatures to see that show.
I'm now 36 years old and the entertainment editor for The Sun Chronicle newspaper in Attleboro, MA (25,000 daily) and see concerts all the time -- and this one is still tops. From the opening chords of ``Simple Visions,'' and the powerful performances of ``The Promised Land'' and ``Down By the Sea'' and the wonderful encore of ``Lay Down,'' this one was a keeper.
Other bands have come and gone in my affections, but the Strawbs have always been a very special band for me; I can't think of any other music with so much atmosphere. I've only seen them play live once, at a fantastic gig in 1986 at the Old Tithe Barn in Old Basing (near Basingstoke, U.K.) but their TV appearances are also locked in my memory. Who remembers them singing "Part of the Union" on the "Nationwide" program? and was their last "Top of the Pops" appearance "Back in the old routine"?
I only happened on the Old Basing gig by chance, reading the Southampton Echo in. I think, August or September 1986. There was a brief article on the entertainments page headed "Strawbs Are Back!", saying the band were playing that night. I rang the paper but they had few details apart from the location, the Old Tithe Barn, Old Basing. I eventually found it, literally a barn in field, and was suprised by the number of people there and the quality of the sound (given the location). The band, as I recall, played all the classic Strawbs tracks, plus most of the songs from "Don't Say Goodbye" which was presumably in production at the time. "Let it rain" was certainly a highlight, since it was chucking it down outside at the time! Certainly a memorable evening.
Some of my fondest memories growing up were discovering and listening to the "golden era" (for me, at least) Strawbs albums "Grave New World" through "Deep Cuts" . . . they were one of my favorite bands. I think those albums still hold up amazingly well. Glad to see they're still active and not forgotten!!
Saw the band perform twice (unfortunately my ailing memory can't supply dates), the first time shortly after "Bursting at the Seams" was released. They were opening for King Crimson at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, Ca. Major memory for that show was the lights going up, them blazing into "New World" . . . it was LOUD, but something didn't sound right. After the song ended, Cousins laughed, apologized and explained the mellotron was malfunctioning. "Very tempermental instrument, doesn't travel well", he explained, as roadies frantically tore the thing apart onstage. After a few minutes the fix was in place; "Let's try that again", Cousins said, and they perfomed the song to perfection the second time.
The next concert was the NoMadness tour . . . they were headlining at the Santa Monica Civic (a fairly small hall, about 1500 if I remember correctly). It was Halloween night, however, and the place was only 1/3 full. Cousins seemed legitimately touched that the audience had decided to attend rather than trick-or-treat partying. "We'll have a party after the show . . . stick around." he promised. (Don't know if they did, I had to leave, unfortunately). It was very intimate and personal, and the passion with which they performed songs like "Ghosts" I'll never forget. One of the best concerts I've ever been to - period.
Peter from Orangeville, Ontario, Canada
I'm a devout Strawbs fan (and a Barclay James Harvest fan).Got all their albums. Faves are still Hero and Heroine and Grave New World. I had an opportunity to see the Strawbs at Waterloo Lutheran University in Ontario Canada in 1974 or so. The crowd numbered only about 2500. What a great concert!
I saw Strawbs at Jonathan Swift's in Cambridge Mass about 83-84. I had a great seat. Most of the audience were males with beards. The previous night they had been in NYC. I sat through the first set. One of the roadies had a black Strawbs 72 tour shirt. Hudson,Ford,Hooper were the supporting cast. I can't remember who did keyboards but they had lots of trouble. Especially during the Hero and Heroine group of songs. Songs in the set were "Cut Like a Diamond", "Stormy Down", "Hevy Diguise", and "Lay Down" to end the first set. I remember watching Dave Cousins at the bar looking at a music video and thinking how that just wasn't the Strawbs scene.
Just received from Chris Bell (thanks Chris!) several copies of Strawbs fanzine "Simple Visions" produced by Californian fan Anne Steichen (orioginal address 1771 Northwood Ct, Oakland, California 94611 - later 551 Jean Street, #308, Oakland, 94610. By the end of the run of six issues I have, it had changed from being Strawbs-specific to a general progressive/lyrical music fanzine. A few snippets nonetheless in there that will make their way onto the web. Anyone have any idea as to Anne Steichen's whereabouts these days? E-mail to me, please.
I saw Strawbs twice at the Calderone Concert Hall (1975 and 1976). At the end of their set, the roar of the crowd was equal that to 5 times the amount of people that were there and they seemed generally surprised by how "in to" the show everybody was. I was fifteen feet away watching all this.
I remember the DJs raving about their stuff; also remember hearing the stories about John Hawken quitting, about their encounters with The Guess Who. All this stuff is just a story until I can get it confirmed. It would be nice to hear it straight from Dave Cousins, just to set the record straight. Perhaps sometime down the road.
My friend Charlie and I both remember seeing the Arista Records "street sheet" back in the 1970's showing a little picture of Heartbreak Hill's ORIGINAL cover and the catalog number and street release date. We saw it but we don't have a copy of it now. We thought it was funny that when we both heard that it was finally coming out, we started chatting about that Arista sheet. We never heard what officially happened ...
Any one else have a copy of that still - it would be great to put the original cover up on the web. Email Dick Greener if you have.
I live in Leicester UK. I am a long time Strawbs fan, in fact I can remember my (now ex) brother-in-law buying both The Strawbs and Dragonfly albums. It was just the sort of music I was looking for as I approached my teens. I taped those two onto a very cheap cassette but after that I bought every album just as soon as it was released all the way from Just a Collection of Antiques and Curios right through to Deadlines..... I even had copies of MFP's Sandy Denny & The Strawbs, Two Weeks Last Summer and Old School Songs on vinyl. I bought Two Weeks from a shop in South Africa when it first came out in 1972 and Old School Songs from Andy's records first stall in Cambridge market - if I remember correctly it was a limited edition of 2000 copies
Like a prat I sold all my albums soon after the emergence of the now ubiquitous CD. ... I have never forgiven myself for that and I have spent the last few years replacing each Strawbs album as soon as it appeared on CD (not to mention Stackridge's Man in a Bowler Hat which has just come out on CD too), usually paying the huge premium for having to purchase a Japanese import. I have just received my copy of Deep Cuts/Burning For You from Terrapin Records and it was such a distinct pleasure to skip straight to Simple Visions to hear Cousins say "Hey me words have blown away" - ah memories!!
I must have seen them play live about eight times between a gig at Harlow Playhouse when Grave New World came out, right through to the Suffolk & Good Festival a couple of years back when they played with Roy Harper and John Martyn. That included Cardiff Castle when they headlined alongside Status Quo.
Alex had [the Strawberry Music] Sampler and I listened to it many times. (White cover with lots and lots of great music). It's great to hear Sandy sing "Who knows where the time goes" She recorded this on an album of Alex. (Alex Campbell and Friends) . I think it was for Saga Records. I think this was the first recording of the song. Sandy stayed in Glasgow at Alex's flat and were good friends.
I heard them play "Will Ye Go" in Glasgow in the early seventies. I had dinner with Alex that night and told him the band had played it. His first question was did Dave give credit to the writer of the song? The song was apparently written for Alex by Francis McPeake . Alex apparently went on to popularize the song. I got the impression that Francis never got any credit for writing this great song and lived on the streets in Belfast.
[Well he has now!!! - Dick]
I was lucky enough to work for A&M Records in Canada throughout the 1970s and saw the Strawbs play many times, the first time in LA as the opening act for Hoyt Axton at the Whiskey A Go Go. But the time I'd like to tell you about was several years later on the Part of the Union tour. It's somewhat of a "shaggy dog" story .....
We had been working hard to break the single and needed some sort of hook on which to rest our promotional efforts. One of the guys at A&M had lived in Sudbury, a mining town several hundred miles north of Toronto with many union members living there and one of the stops on the band's tour. He was sure we could arrange for a ticker-tape style parade through town as the people there thought the song was pro-union (it wasn't). Preparations began and by the time Cousins and the lads reached Toronto the plans for Sudbury included a welcome by the local union head, a procession through town, a visit to a local landmark (the "Big Nickel" - a 10 meter high reproduction of a Canadian 5 cent piece), a gathering at the local union hall, and a concert that evening as opening act for King Crimson.
The Toronto press was alerted to all the events about to take place in Sudbury and the level of excitment was high with all of us. Saturday morning arrived and we all flew up to Sudbury expecting the best. Little did we know... Instead of a series of limos to greet the band, we found a couple of old Pontiacs that had seen much better days. Still, it was going to be great! We got to the Big Nickel Park and had to pay the admission fee. The excitement was beginning to pale. The rather bored expressions of the band can be seen on the inside spread of the "Classic Strawbs" album released in Canada (them in the foreground, a huge smokestack belching smoke in the background - I had the smoke added BTW).
[The very photo!! - Dick]
On to the union hall! We were expecting masses of excited union members but found that only a couple of others had been added to the group that met us at the airport. As it was, the people in the band and the people from A&M greatly outnumbered the people from Sudbury. At least they had put a chalk greeting on the blackboard at the front of the hall. After many glasses of wine, it was Cousins who noticed that even that had been screwed up. "Welome to the Strawbs!" it said. We all cracked up and "Welome" became an in joke with us for years after.
The concert that evening was a good one, but nothing like the incredible ones they always seemed to pull off at Toronto's Massey Hall. We flew out the next morning and were so embarrassed by the dismal failure of the entire weekend that we never mentioned anything about it to anyone outside the group. The Toronto press, on the other hand, assumed that everything had gone as planned and we never bothered to correct the story so for a long time after that the Strawbs triumphant tour of Sudbury was talked about in glowing terms by people in radio and at the papers. They never found out the truth, but now you know. Sorry it took so long to tell it and for you to read it!
I saw Strawbs at Memorial Hall in KC sometime in the 70's...don't remember what year. They were the opening act for somebody (don't remember who, I came to see the Strawbs). I really enjoyed the show, my main recollection is the candelabra on top of the grand piano, and Dave chatting with the audience in his BRITISH voice.
The last story posted on the site about the Strawbs concert in Philadelphia (with Kirby and Mealing on keyboards) breaks my heart. I remember thinking about going to it, and didn't, for whatever reason; probably money or distance.
The "Ghosts" concert I saw was in January 1975 (with Hawken on keys), and the Strawbs didn't play "Ghosts," which was (and remains) one of my all-time favorites .... if memory serves, "Remembering/You and I" ended with the stage going dark, followed by lights up on the first chords of "Just Love" -- nice juxtaposition.
I am a Strawbs fan from way back when. I saw them live in 1975 and 1976 on Long Island, where I'm from originally. I have photos I took of them in 1976. That is a long story... the photos are pretty good considering that fast film was not "out there" yet. I shot slides and with NO flash. Venues, you ask? The Island Music Center in Commack, NY (formerly the Long Island Arena) with John Hawken, and twice at the Calderone Concert Hall in Island Park/Garden City.
I arrived in London in 1987 in July on vacation with friends only to learn that "The Strawbs" played London the night before I arrived. Just my luck! I would have been there, no matter what.
Then I heard Cousins/Willoughby were in Rochester, NY (1 1/2 hours from Syracuse, my home) a few years back. Never heard a word about it. So I am looking for people who are in the know about the band... and lo and behold, I found you on the internet.
Cousins and Willoughy played here in Denver, Colorado 2 years ago and I got to meet them. We were the first ones in the club that night and they stopped their sound check to shake our hands.
I first saw the Strawbs in concert at Philadelphia's Tower Theater, November 1975 one day after Thanksgiving. Though the $13.00 ticket seemed exorbitant then (a few pennies by today's standards) for a struggling college student, it was a small ransom indeed for seeing your favorite group on one of their few major U.S. tours. The Tower, an old, small venue (resembling an English music hall), provided the perfect setting for the group's showcasing of their album "Ghosts."
The concert's opening left an indelible impression on me. In complete darkness the stage lighting projected the tangled Witchwood motif (well-known from the Witchwood album cover) replete with barren trees, and projected wispy dark clouds passing over an ersatz moon. From out of nowhere came the looping harpsichord intro to "Ghosts." Suddenly, on center stage the concert spotlight shown on a bearded Dave Cousins strumming the 12-string guitar accompanyment to the intro. The intricate interlocking of the harpsichord and guitar, and finally the nightmarish projection of the mellotrons (played by Msrs. Robert Kirby and Johnny Mealing) created a mood for the rest of the concert which was indeed memorable. Cousin's rendition of "Out In The Cold" was equally haunting. And Dave Lambert tore the roof off the Tower with his power chords on "Just Love".
Though I haven't seen the band perform since, I did see Dave Cousins and Brian Willoughby perform in July 1995 at a small lakeside pub/dinner club (Krough's) located in rural Sparta, New Jersey. The proprietor, close friends of C&W, put them up for a few days and the lads performed for two evening shows. Upon entering, I was surprised to find myself face to face with Dave Cousins as he was busy setting up a small stand for selling newly minted copies of the CD "The Bridge", along with "Old School Songs," and a book of poetry and lyrics he had just had published. After Dave and Brian finished with a soundcheck they retired to an adjacent table and polished off a pre-concert meal consisting of large salads and copious amount of wine. Within an hour, Cousins retreated to the back kitchen area and emerged resplendid in an embroidered kimono-like cloak and both Cousins and Willoughby took to a tiny platform in the middle of the bar area to perform.
Between each song and tuning, Cousins explained the background of the songs (i.e. The Hangman and the Papist, New World, and Grace Darling-- the best song of the evening). Near the end the energy level was very high and boozy and everyone seemed to know the lyrics to Part of the Union. I talked briefly to Cousins at the end of the show and he seemed to enjoy the small but energetic audience. Dave said the pub and lakeside atmosphere reminded him of summer in Devon and the early performances in the folk clubs . . . he said he had felt quite at home that evening and was glad I could make it.
I was lucky enough to see the band once live (The Venue, Victoria, London) with the Tony Fernandez / Chas Cronk / Cousins line-up (sorry, can't remember the other players!).
I also corresponded with a girl in the States called Anne (or Anna). Her surname started with S who edited a magazine called SIMPLE VISIONS in the 1970s. You may have seen this. Perhaps you'd like to reprint some of the articles that appeared in it. [Coming soon !!!]
Back in '75, ... there was talk about Cousins doing a concert and an album at Notre Dame Cathedral in Montreal but nothing came of it. On the supposed "world premiere" of "I only want my love to grow in you" single on CHOM-FM in Montreal (late July 1976), they started the song at 33 RPM and sped it up only after the voice revealed the error!
I met Blue Weaver at a party a couple of years ago and as a consequence got the Strawbs to play at the Walton-on-the-Naze folk festival (England) last Sept. I loaned Blue a fully restored Mellotron for the gig - he only intended to use it on a couple of numbers, but he loved it and ended up using it throughout the set. He then treated us to a 'guided tour' of the 'tron and it's workings next day at an impromptu workshop.
Attended the Strawbs gig at Twickenham last night. Great show. Cousins, very much on home territory, was on fine form vocally, supported by Demick and Hudson. Brian Willoughby had some trouble with his bit of the PA system during the intro to "Something For Nothing" which became somewhat extended, giving Hud the chance to shoe off a bit on the drumkit. This prompted Dave to inform us that we might be treated to an evening of this sort of stuff, which he referred to as "Pink Floyd music". If there was any criticism, it was that Blue Weaver's keyboards were overpowered by the guitars until the instrumental in "Part Of The Union" when they were suddenly turned up to a reasonable level. No particular surprises in the set list - though when the band finished the main set with "Part Of The Union" it was nice to see thejm come back with "Tell Me What You See In Me" before finishing off with "Hero And Heroine."
I remember seeing Dave Cousins perform at a rare solo gig at the July Wakes Folk Festival in 1976. He flew in by helicopter, wearing that pink jacket with the tiger on it which he was wearing for the Deep Cuts tour (which I also saw and which had the best Strawbs sound ever- as clear as crystal) - I got some good photos that day at Chorley. For me the most memorable song was the final song "Beat The Retreat" which stuck in my mind for a long time, and which only ever made it to vinyl 11 years later on "Don't Say Goodbye". Lucky I have a long memory!
Cousins at the Wakes Festival(photo by me!)
I was also lucky enough, whilst running the University College London Folk Club (I think there was also some connection with the London Folk Festival), to be able to book Dave and Brian for the Bloomsbury Theatre at the end of their 1979 "acoustic jaunt" which culminated in the release of Old School Songs. I remember they were supported by a college band Turnham Green (who were on their best behaviour for once) and another duo from the Kevin Wyatt Lown agency (I forget who at present). I was MC, and was checking sound etc. on this big stage when Dave Cousins walked in wearing an incredible pair of furry boots! He and Willoughby were soon putting the sound system through its paces for what was to be a smashing show, and I had the pleasure of standing on that stage and introducing them!
Ironically however, I missed lots of performances by Dave on his own and with Brian at the Dovecot Folk Club in Stockton on Tees (my home town). Dave moved up there to work at Radio Tees in 1980, by which time I had established myself in London, and it was a bit far to travel. I've asked my old friend Mike Hardy (who isn't yet on Internet) to put together some memories of those days for posting here.
I met the band many times over the years. Alex first introduced me to them in the back of his car on the way to a gig in Edinburgh. The song was "The Man Who Called Himself Jesus". Anyway Alex asked me what I thought of the band, and about six months later handed me a copy of their first album. Dave Cousins and I always seemed to bring the conversation back to Alex. They were talking about recording together but it never happened. Alex died 1987 in Denmark. I moved to the US. in 1979 and lost touch with the band. When I first moved here I started to put out feelers for the band to tour the US. and Canada but Dave left the band to pursue his interest in the Radio Station and Heartbreak Hill was put on the shelf (till last year).
When the Strawbs were touring in the early 80s I saw them several places in both NY and Philadelphia. One concert that was at a small cafe in the Philadelphia area was absolutely phenomenal. They played for what seemed like forever even playing "Cut like a diamond" twice! During a break I spoke with Dave and even urinated next to John Ford! Quite an evening. ... I think the most incredible moment that night was when Dave and Brian did "Sealed it with a traitors kiss" acoustically. When he sang "I thought that as the years rolled by, you'd understand my sadness..." his voice trailed off with such emotion it was just overwhelming.
I also tried contacting Dave at his house ... when I was visiting England in 1985. I never did reach him, but it's a story in itself!
I have been lucky enough to see the Strawbs during distinct phases of their career. I saw them in the 70s on Nomadness and Deep Cuts tours, and during the 80s in 1984 and 1987, the latter after Don't Say Goodbye was released. Every concert has been special. In fact, in some ways their live performances improve with the years. I especially enjoyed the 1984 concert in that they had nothing recent to promote so appeared to play what they wanted. To this date, the acoustic performance of Blue Angel done by Cousins and Willoughby that night is probably the highlight of my concertgoing life.
When I left Toronto for Vancouver in the late 80s, one of the only things I missed was the regular Strawbs visits. I'm now in the Boston area. Does anyone know if they ever come here. Would any North American tour plans be posted in this group?
[DG: You bet!!!]
In 1975, at the Strawbs peak of popularity in Quebec, David Cousins recorded a French Language version of Grace Darling called Cheri Je T'aime and released it on single. I have a primitive cassette recording of it somewhere but there is also a live version on a concert disk called the Nyon Folk Festival (from 1979).
I've been a fan of the Strawbs since the early 80's and have seen them three times when they toured in the mid 80's.
The first concert was at the Tower Theatre in Philly. The Strawbs opened for Robin Trower. Dave told a story about how he had been hospitalized in New York a couple nights before ( I think he said he had passed out or something). He woke up dreaming of green fields and pastoral lands...all this as a way of introducing the song Glimpse of Heaven.
The second time I saw them was at the Bottom Line in New York City. We had great seats about 20 feet from the stage. The Bobs opened for them. I recall seeing Paul Schaffer and Harry Shearer during the Bobs set, but was dissapointed when they didn't stay for the Strawbs. What losers!
The third time I saw them was again in New York City at the Lone Star Cafe. It was cramped quarters but a good two set show. Late in the evening Hudson, the drummer, who must've been drinking a wee bit too much beer, vomited behind his drumkit, but never lost a beat! A fact which Cousins noted with great glee.
I almost saw them a fourth time at the Ambler Cabaret in Ambler, Pennsylvania, but I got carded at the door and the bouncers wouldn't let me in. It was an excruciating experience because my friends who DID get in (they were legal) saw the concert of their lives, got to meet Dave and the band, etc. while I tried my best to listen to the show by placing my ear against the outside wall!
- Interested in Strawbs concert info past & present
- Videos (1990 film special)
- What Grammy they were nominated for
- Hudson & Ford info
- The movie She had Strawbs alumni Wakeman, Fernandez, Cronk. This remains the only Strawbs movie soundtrack that I know of.
Did anyone know there is a Strawbs film, Grave New World, which was on general release in the early 70s as a double bill with Pink Floyd's Live at Pompeii. It featured some striking images:
- Cousins superimposed over footage of riots in Japan for Grave New World
- a mime artist (I think Tony Crerar) for Flower and the Young Man
Anybody got any further information ? Or a copy ?
Did a two hour interview with Rick Wakeman a few years back and he loved the fact that we talked mostly about Strawbs. He had intended to give me a 1/2 hour -- when he heard that I wanted to know about Strawbs, he gave me just over two hours. It was a great interview and was wonderful to hear how much respect he has for Dave Cousins.
I've been a big Strawbs fan since the summer of '72 when I first saw them live during their first (I think) U.S. tour. In fact, I had the pleasure of meeting them during their tours in '85 and '87. Lately I've been moonlighting as a sound engineer in a Pennsylvania folk club that has a lot well known acts coming through. For example, I worked with John Renbourn just this last weekend. Are Dave Cousins and Brian Willoughby planning to tour here again sometime soon? We'd love to have them play our venue. Any information you could send my way would be greatly appreciated.
Joseph M Gattoni
In the 70's I was fortunate enough to catch two of their live performances. The first was at a nightclub in Cambridge, Mass. called the Garage on the Hero and Heroine tour, it was fantastic and is still one of the best concerts I have seen and I have seen hundreds. I saw them again the next year on the Ghosts tour, unfortunately some idiot booked them as back-up to ZZ Top, what a mis-match. Their wonderful performance was drowned out by screams for ZZ Top to come on stage.
However I was with a friend who worked for a local college radio station and had arranged an interview with the Strawbs. We went to a local tavern and spent the rest of the evening conversing with Dave and the rest of the band, a treat I will never forget. If you have any info you think I would find interesting or would like to further chat about the Strawbs or similar bands please contact me.
I was looking through the users on DirCon's page for a friend when I hooked on to your page. Quite a coincidence since Rupert Holmes (who produced "Deep Cuts" is my son. I was living in Reigate at the time and Rupert visited us while he was making the Strawbs recording. I have a copy of it and have played it many times. If you are interested in Rupert's career since then I can put you up to date. We hear from our relatives that many of his records are still being played on radio in the UK and, of course, he's still known as the Pina Colada man in the States.
I've been fortunate enough to see several of their concerts over the years. One I'll never forget was at the Scottish Rite cathedral in Philadelphia in '74 or '75 . After a fantastic performance at an outstanding venue Dave opened his arms and the audience slowly approached and hugged him and the rest of the band, this must have gone on for a half hour or so. It was just great! Thanks again. P.T.
John S. Einarson
I have always had a deep respect for Dave Cousins' writing and singing. Perhaps my favourite period is 1973 to 76, from Bursting At The Seams to Ghosts. I thought John Hawken's keyboard work was marvellous and was disappointed when he left.
In 1991 I wore my Strawbs sweatshirt to an interview I did with Neil Young at his ranch. He looked at the shirt and asked, "What is Strawbs?" So I informed him. Got a photo standing by his studio in my Strawbs shirt. A nice memento.
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