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Wurzels raise a glass to founder Adge Cutler

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: May 03, 2014

By janet hughes

  • Adge Cutler in his familiar outfit with his trademark stick and with the MG sports car in which he died in accident near Chepstow in 1974

  • The Wurzels today, from left: accordion player Tommy Banner, guitar and banjo player Pete Budd, drummer John Morgan and ukulele, guitar, bass and keyboardist Sedge Moore

  • The Wurzels shortly before Adge Cutler's death. Adge is pictured seated left with Tommy Banner, Tony Baylis and Pete Budd

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It was 40 years ago that Adge Cutler died on his way home from a Wurzels gig as the West Country band hovered on the cusp of fame.

Four decades later the Wurzels are known worldwide and determined to keep alive the memory of their charismatic founder and preserve his legacy.

This Bank Holiday Monday they will give a special commemorative performance in Bristol in honour of the man who invented "scrumpy and western" at one of his old haunts.

Tommy Banner says it will be an emotional night for the band, friends and family.

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"The date is etched in all our memories and wherever are we are, whatever we are doing, it's always very emotional," he said.

"We can all remember exactly where we were when we heard the news.

"This year it will probably be more emotional than usual because Adge's brother Dave will be there."

It is now thought that Adge fell asleep at the wheel when his MGB sports car hit a roundabout in Chepstow as he drove home from the Crystal Rooms nightclub in Hereford on May 5, 1974.

After 28 days working without a break, the band members had decided to bring their own cars so they could leave after the gig instead of waiting for the roadie to load the VW van.

Tommy was living in a caravan at the time and says he will never forget the early morning phone call from the manager telling him his band mate had been killed in the Wye Valley.

It was a tragic end for Alan John Cutler, from Nailsea in North Somerset, who had taken his musical inspiration from his West Country roots and a succession of early jobs which ranged from road manager for Acker Bilk to building and working at a cider mill belonging to Coates of Nailsea.

He came up with Adge Cutler and the Wurzels as part of a 1966 deal with EMI which led to the release of the single Drink up Thy Zider.

It sold more than 100,000 copies and went on to become a West Country football anthem.

Another of Adge's songs, Twice Daily, was released as the B-Side to the single but banned by the BBC for being too raunchy.

Adge continued to write his slightly risque lyrics about local characters and villages such as Nempnett Thrubwell, Stanton Drew and Pill until his death.

Although the band was in demand for TV and cabaret appearances, it wasn't until after he died that the Wurzel's hit the big time with the 1976 Number One hit Combine Harvester.

This was swiftly followed by I Am A Cider Drinker, based on the summer hit song Una Paloma Blanca which made the Wurzels worldwide hits.

The late 1970s saw the band engaged in a constant round of tours, studio recording sessions and television appearances on programmes from That's Life to The Basil Brush Show.

Today the band still perform across the country, including a performance in 2000 at the Glastonbury Festival.

Scottish-born Tommy Banner said: "I often thank Adge for giving me the chance to come to Somerset to live and work, and only wish he had been alive to see how popular his songs and ours still are to this day.

"I don't think he would still have been performing, because I doubt if he could have kept up with the pace of today's shows, but I'm sure he would still have been writing humorous, inventive songs for us, in his own inimitable style."

Another of the Wurzels Pete Budd, who joined up with Adge in 1972, said: "I first met Adge when I was with my band The Rebels.

"He was very excited and told me that he was going on the road with his own outfit and singing songs that he had already written.

"Who would have thought that several years after that, I would become one of his blokes!

"Adge will always be with us – good 'n mate."

Monday's gig is at the Fleece from 7.30pm. Tickets cost £18.50 in advance from Bristol Ticket Shop.

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