Fisherman's Friends

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Fisherman's Friends
Fishermens friends.JPG
Fisherman's Friends performing at Port Isaac
Background information
Origin Port Isaac, Cornwall, UK
Genres Sea shanties
Years active 1995–present
Labels Universal Music
Members John Brown
Julian Brown
Jeremy Brown
John Lethbridge
Billy Hawkins
Jason Nicholas
Peter Rowe
John McDonnell
Jon Cleave
Toby Lobb
Past members Trevor Grills
Nigel Sherratt

Fisherman's Friends are a male singing group from Port Isaac, Cornwall, who sing sea shanties.[1] They have been performing locally since 1995, and signed a record deal with Universal Music in March 2010. Whilst essentially an a cappella group, their studio recordings now often include traditional simple instrumentation.


The members are: John Brown, Julian Brown, Jeremy Brown (these first three being brothers), John Lethbridge, Billy Hawkins, Jason Nicholas, Peter Rowe, John McDonnell and Jon Cleave. At 78, Peter Rowe is the oldest member, as of June 2012.

All the members of the group "grew up within half a mile of Port Isaac harbour" except for John McDonnell who is a Yorkshireman. Three are fishermen, and the others are linked to the sea through service as coastguards or lifeboatmen.

Jon Cleave is the MC of the group and also the author/illustrator of the children's book series Gully[2] as well as the full length, humorous novel Nasty Pasty.[3]

They sing the chorus on Show of Hands' popular song Cousin Jack on Show of Hands' "best of" CD "Roots", as well as on the title track.


Their repertoire is extremely varied and includes both shanties and other nautical songs, some of which are fairly lewd.[4]


They performed at the 2010 Cornbury music festival in Oxfordshire,[5] the Glastonbury Festival and the Cambridge Folk Festival.[6] They also often perform in Port Isaac, regularly singing on the beach in the Summer Holidays.


The group had released two CDs themselves before signing with Universal. In 2002, under the name Port Isaac’s ‘Fishermen’s Friends’, they recorded an album, primarily to raise funds for the RNLI, which was released on the Clovelly Label, Catalogue Number CLCD12702. The Album, entitled Fishermen’s Friends are Home from the Sea, has 20 tracks and was recorded in St Peter’s Church Port Isaac on the 26 and 27 April 2002. All the tracks are sung in the traditional a cappella style. The album was engineered by Bob Whitney and produced by John Perkins. Their first album with Universal, Port Isaac's Fisherman's Friends, was recorded in St Kew Parish Church, Cornwall,[7] and released in April 2010.[6]

A second album with Universal, One and All was released on 26 August 2013 [8]

In 2010 they re-recorded their single, "No Hopers, Jokers or Rogues", with new lyrics, in support of England's World Cup campaign in South Africa.[9]

The single "Mary Anne", taken from the album was released on 25 June 2013 [10]

In July 2015, the album Proper Job was released on the Sony Music label, in association with the St Austell Brewery, who brew a beer of the same name. This album also saw the first appearance of new member Toby Lobb.[11]


Gareth Malone's documentary on sea shanties, shown in May 2010 on BBC 4, included a contribution from the group.[12] The Fisherman's Friends have also starred in an advert for fish company, Young's.


At the 2011 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards Fisherman's Friends received The Good Tradition Award for keeping folk music alive and bringing it to new audiences.[13]

Guildford incident[edit]

On 9 February 2013 a heavy steel door fell while the G Live venue in Guildford was being prepared for a Fisherman's Friends show, killing their tour manager Paul McMullen. Singer Trevor Grills suffered serious head injuries,[14] and died in hospital two days later.[15][16]



Album Title Album details Chart positions Certification
Suck'em and Sea
  • Released: 2000
  • Label: Marine Records
Another Mouthful From ... The Fisherman's Friends
  • Released: 2009
  • Label: Marine Records
Port Isaac's Fisherman's Friends 9[17]
One And All 29[17]
Proper Job


  • 2006: Show of Hands - "Roots" (Fisherman's Friends sing the chorus)
  • 2013: "Mary Anne"


  1. ^ Sinclair, Lulu (18 March 2010). "Fisherman's Friends Net Catchy Album Deal". Sky News. Retrieved 2011-02-07. 
  2. ^ "Gully the Seagull Children's Story Books | Port Isaac Cornwall | Home Page". Retrieved 2015-11-03. 
  3. ^ "Nasty Pasty the first novel by Jon Cleave from The Fisherman's Friends". Retrieved 2015-11-03. 
  4. ^ Williams, Murphy (29 April 2010). "When the boat came in". The Telegraph. London. Retrieved 2011-02-07. 
  5. ^ Parkinson, Ben (23 April 2010). "Fisherman's Friends for Cornbury Festival". Virtual Festivals. Retrieved 2011-02-07. 
  6. ^ a b Gifford, Ralph (7 February 2011). "Ship comes in at last for Cornish folk singers". The Independent. London. Retrieved 2001-02-07. 
  7. ^ "Cornwall singers win deal to make album of sea shanties". BBC News. 18 March 2010. Retrieved 2011-02-07. 
  8. ^ Battersby, Matilda (25 June 2013). "The Fisherman's Friends dedicate new album One and All to tenor Trevor Grills who died in freak accident". The Independent. London. 
  9. ^ "Back of the fishing net as Fisherman's Friends record World Cup single". West Briton. 2010-06-10. Retrieved 2015-11-03. 
  10. ^ "Fisherman's Friends release Trevor Grills memorial single". BBC News. 25 June 2013. 
  11. ^ Butler, Jackie (9 July 2015). "Fisherman's Friends new album is a Proper Job". Cornish Guardian. Retrieved 27 March 2016. 
  12. ^ "Sea Shanties and Sea Songs with Gareth Malone". BBC. Retrieved 11 May 2010. 
  13. ^ "Donovan 'fired-up' by Lifetime Achievement Award". The Telegraph. London. 8 February 2001. Retrieved 2011-02-11. Shanty singers Fisherman's Friends were rewarded for keeping folk music alive and bringing it to new audiences with an honorary prize, the Good Tradition award [at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards]. 
  14. ^ "Fisherman's Friends tour manager dies in G Live accident". BBC. 10 February 2013. Retrieved 10 February 2013. 
  15. ^ "Comments". 2013-02-12. Retrieved 2015-11-03. 
  16. ^ "Fisherman's Friends' Trevor Grills dies after G Live accident - BBC News". Retrieved 2015-11-03. 
  17. ^ a b "Official Charts Company". Fisherman's Friends chart history 
  18. ^ "Certified Awards Search". BPI. Archived from the original on 17 January 2010. Retrieved 2011-02-07. PORT ISAAC'S FISHERMAN'S - PORT ISAAC'S FISHERMAN'S FRIENDS : Gold Certification (Album) Friday, 7 January 2011 : UNIVERSAL MUSIC (UNIVERSAL) : Released Monday, 26 April 2010  (Search required)

External links[edit]