Gay Woods

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Gay Woods
Birth name Gabriel Corcoran
Born (1948-09-01) 1 September 1948 (age 68)
Dublin, Ireland
Genres Folk, Electric folk
Occupation(s) Musician, Songwriter, Bandleader
Instruments Vocals
Years active 1963–present
Associated acts Steeleye Span (1969-1970, 1994-2001)
The Woods Band (1970-Mid 71)
Dr. Strangely Strange (Late 1971)
Gay & Terry Woods (1975-1980)
Auto Da Fé (1980–1986)
Notable instruments

Gay Woods (1 September 1948) is an Irish singer. She was one of the original members of Steeleye Span.

Early years[edit]

Gabriel Corcoran was born in Dublin, a neighbour of her future husband Terry Woods (b 1947). Her elder brothers shared Woods' love of hillbilly music and blues. Corcoran and Woods performed together in 1963 at Dublin's Neptune Rowing club and got married in May 1968. Performing as a duo, they sang Carter Family songs and occasionally Irish songs. Terry Woods became a member of Sweeney's Men, who played English and American folk music, plus their own compositions. That summer the band performed at Cambridge Folk Festival. Gay Woods was not in the band. The following summer, the couple went to Keele folk festival where Woods met up with Ashley Hutchings who was then still with Fairport Convention. Terry Woods and Hutchings had an instant rapport.

Steeleye Span, 1969-1970[edit]

The first tentative rehearsal for the new band which was to become Steeleye Span took place in early November 1969. Johnny Moynihan, the Woods, Andy Irvine (back from his travels in the Balkans) and Hutchings met at the Prince of Wales pub in Highgate. The following day, Moynihan said he wouldn't be joining Steeleye because of his dislike of Terry Woods. Irvine also dropped out, resuming his solo career prior to meeting Dónal Lunny, with whom he would soon form a duo.[1]:82–84 To replace them, Hutchings then asked Bob and Carol Pegg, then the Dransfield brothers, and finally Tim Hart and Maddy Prior, who accepted. Hutchings' departure from Fairport Convention became public in the NME on 22 November 1969.[2]

Gay Woods felt very neglected at this time, because Hart and Prior were still gigging as a duo, and she was the breadwinner after Sweeney's Men broke up in November. A friend of Terry Woods offered the new band a house in Winterbourne Stoke as a rehearsal place. Photographs taken that winter in the Wiltshire village appear on some editions of the liner notes of the album Hark! The Village Wait. In March 1970 there was a BBC radio session of the material, and they recorded it in April. The studio time was very fraught, with Terry Woods and Hart almost at daggers drawn. The Woods went to Nottingham immediately after the recording, and received a phone call a week later to say that they had been replaced by Martin Carthy. This rankled so much with Terry Woods that he refused to appear in the grand reunion of Steeleye Span, The Journey in 1995.


In the summer of 1970 Gay and Terry Woods joined Dr. Strangely Strange, Ireland's version of the Incredible String Band. They gigged in the Netherlands and Germany. The band fell apart shortly afterwards. Terry Woods returned to Ireland to recruit Ed Deane and Pat Nash to his new project, The Woods Band. They recorded their only album in 1971. It was issued with a luxury gatefold embossed with gold Celtic designs. It sounds more like a successor to Hark! The Village Wait than an album by four people from Ireland. The record label, Greenwich, collapsed after the band had toured with the group Greenslade. The album received good reviews but poor sales. Collectors have valued the original album at £70, and the 1977 reissue at £15.[citation needed]

Reduced to a duo, they recorded four albums from 1975 to 1978 and a single. The songs are mostly their own compositions, with accompaniment on dulcimer, banjo and acoustic and electric guitars. Gay Woods had one stillbirth, then in 1979 she had a miscarriage. It was her darkest hour. In despair she stopped wanting children and returned to being a typist. In 1980, Terry and Gay Woods (then on Mulligan Records) approached Garvan Gallagher and Trevor Knight (then of Metropolis) about contributing to a new Woods Band demo. After recording theses demo tapes, Gay Woods broke up with Terry Woods and formed a group, Auto Da Fe, with Trevor Knight and three Dutch musicians: Theo Wanders, Carel van Rijn and Wout Pennings. Their sound was New Romantic, similar to Marc Almond or Annie Lennox. Their singles were very much of their time and received strong airplay in Ireland, which guaranteed that their live concerts were profitable. There were eight singles, a compilation and an album, Tatitum. Phil Lynott and Midge Ure did some session work with them. These throwaway releases brought more money than anything she had done previously.

In 1988 Gay Woods withdrew from music to give birth to a child by Trevor Knight.

Steeleye Span, 1995-2001[edit]

In 1994 she received an invitation to rejoin Steeleye Span. After recording three albums (plus a concert) with Steeleye Span, she broke with them over money. The last song she recorded with them, "I See the Blood Upon The Rose" (on Bedlam Born), is the one she is most proud of. The most recent news is that she was studying for a degree in psychology at the University of Essex.


Steeleye Span

The Woods Band

  • The Woods Band (1971)

Gay and Terry Woods

  • Backwoods (1975)
  • The Time Is Right (1976)
  • Renowned (1976)
  • Tenderhooks (1978)
  • In Concert (1995)
  • Lake Songs From Red Water: The Best of Gay & Terry Woods (20-track compilation from their first three albums) (2003)

Auto Da Fe

  • Tatitum (1985)


  1. ^ O'Toole, Leagues (2006). The Humours of Planxty. Ireland: Hodder Headline. ISBN 0-340-83796-9. 
  2. ^ Hinton, B.; Wall, G. (2002). Ashley Hutchings: The Authorised Biography. London: Helter Skelter. ISBN 1-900-92432-3. 

External links[edit]