Ken Nicol (musician)

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Ken Nicol
Liam Genockey (left) and Ken Nicol at Fairport's Cropredy Convention 2006.
Liam Genockey (left) and Ken Nicol at Fairport's Cropredy Convention 2006.
Background information
Birth nameKenneth Stephen Nicol
Born (1951-05-27) 27 May 1951 (age 69)
Preston, Lancashire, England
GenresRock, folk, British folk rock
Occupation(s)Guitarist, singer, songwriter and producer
InstrumentsVocals, guitar, ukulele, banjo
Years active1974–present
Associated actsNicol & Marsh, Easy Street, Ashley Hutchings, The Albion Band, Steeleye Span

Kenneth Stephen Nicol (born 27 May 1951) is a British guitar player, vocalist and songwriter. He was a member of The Albion Band for many years and for eight years (2002–2010) played in British folk rock band Steeleye Span.

Early years[edit]

Nicol was born in 1951 in Preston, Lancashire. He grew up in Deepdale, close to Preston North End's ground, but was educated from the age of eleven at Penwortham Secondary Modern. Nicol didn't like school, experiencing the discipline as brutal. These were the days when teachers inflicted physical punishment. Nicol rebelled against the notion of grown men being able to hit boys across the buttocks with canes and slippers. He didn't flourish academically, in spite of his intelligence, but made good friendships. His musical abilities weren't recognised by the school. He received his first guitar at the age of twelve, but did not start playing seriously until the age of fifteen. He did, however, exchange musical ideas with fellow pupils and friends, though his talent was superior. He got to know Kevin Brown, a Preston guitarist of about the same age, now an established musician.[citation needed] Aged 17, he began performing on the regional folk club circuits, and at the age of twenty moved to London where he lived for nine years.[citation needed]


Nicol formed the band Nicol & Marsh with his then brother-in-law Peter Marsh in 1974, and it wasn't long before they landed their first major record contract with CBS. Together with Richard James Burgess, the band became Easy Street. They went on to produce a total of four albums on the CBS/Epic and Polydor labels; the last album, titled Nicol and Marsh, being recorded in Los Angeles. Working there prompted Nicol to make his home in the USA, moving there in 1979. He performed as a solo artist, and later as lead singer and co-writer for the band Versailles.

Nicol's career floundered during what turned out to be a turbulent and unsettling period in America. As a result of this he decided to return to England in 1988, and went back to work on the club circuit as a solo performer, releasing the albums Tidings (1990), Living in a Spanish Town (1993) and 2 Frets from the Blues (1995).

Later years[edit]

In the 1990s, Nicol became a member of The Ashley Hutchings Dance Band. He later joined The Albion Band as lead guitarist and singer, writing much of the band's material himself, though also co-writing with Ashley Hutchings. The Albion Band produced four albums during Nicol's time in the band: Happy Accident, Before Us Stands Yesterday, The Christmas Album and Road Movies.

In December 2002, Nicol successfully joined forces with the legendary folk-rock band Steeleye Span on their 'UK Reunion Tour'. In 2004, Steeleye Span released two albums: They Called Her Babylon and Winter. This was also the year of Steeleye Span's 35th Anniversary World Tour which took the band to Australia, New Zealand, Denmark, and to theatres and festivals throughout the UK. They released the album Bloody Men in 2006, and in October 2009 the album Cogs, Wheels and Lovers.

In June 2010, he announced that he was leaving Steeleye Span. He continues to write, tour and record as a solo artist, releasing the albums Thirteen Reasons in 2005 and Initial Variations in 2008. He also regularly appears in duos with comedian/musician Phil Cool and with Albion Band/Steeleye Span founder Ashley Hutchings. In November and December 2010 he is to perform as "special guest guitarist" with Lancashire folk group The Houghton Weavers. Nicol also co-hosts a folk and roots music podcast called "FolkCast".

In recent years (2017-2018), Nicol has formed a trio with Steeleye Span bass player Rick Kemp and 10cc drummer Paul Burgess.


Nicol & Marsh / Easy Street

  • Nicol & Marsh's Easy Street (LP) (1974)
  • "I've Been Praying" (single) (1974)
  • "Midnight Cat" (single) (1974)
  • "Sinking Down" (single) (1975)
  • Easy Street (LP) (1976)
  • "I've Been Loving You" (single) (1976)
  • "Feels Like Heaven" (single) (1976)
  • Under the Glass (LP) (1977)
  • "Flying" (single) (1977)
  • Nicol and Marsh (LP) (1978)
  • "Hurt By Love" (single) (1978)
  • "Streets of the Angels" (single) (1978)

Ken Nicol solo

  • Ken Nicol (cassette) (1988)
  • Little Children's Blues (cassette) (1988)
  • Holywood This, Hollywood That (cassette) (1989)
  • Tidings (1990)
  • Across the Spectrum (live) (1991)
  • Living in a Spanish Town (CD) (1993)
  • 2 Frets from the Blues (CD) (1995)
  • Clean Feet, No Shoes (CD) (1998)
  • The Bridge (CD) (2001)
  • Thirteen Reasons (CD) (2005)
  • Live in Florence (CD) (2006)
  • Tidings (CD) (2006)
  • Ken Nicol (CD) (2007)
  • Little Children's Blues (CD) (2007)
  • Initial Variations CD (2008)
  • Historic Events and Other Subjects CD (2012)
  • Things CD (2015)

Ken Nicol and John St Ryan

  • "Last Night in Paris" (single) (1994)

Ken Nicol and Chris While

  • Shadows on the Wall (1995)

The Albion Band

  • Happy Accident (1998)
  • Before Us Stands Yesterday (1999)
  • Christmas Album (1999)
  • Road Movies (2001)
  • An Evening with the Albion Band (2002)

Steeleye Span

Ken Nicol & Phil Cool

  • Nicol & Cool (2008)

Ken Nicol & Ashley Hutchings

  • Copper, Russet and Gold (2010)

Session recordings[edit]

  • 23 Carrots (Al Stewart) (1980)
  • Shot in the Dark (1980)
  • Road dreams (Kevin Brown) (1983)
  • Some Love (Les Barker) (1992)
  • Look at me Now (Chris While) (1992)
  • Spun from a Silken Web (Ron Lister) (1994)
  • Blue Moon on the Rise (Chris While & Julie Matthews) (1995)
  • Such is Life (Julie Matthews) (1995)
  • Nice Work (Clare Teal) (1996)
  • A Batter Pudding for John Keats (Ashley Hutchings) (1996)
  • The Guv'nor vol 4 (various artists) (1996)
  • The HTD Summer Folk Selection (various artists) (1996)
  • Piecework (Chris while and Julie Matthews) (1997)
  • Folk Aerobics (Ashley Hutchings) (1997)
  • Kate Howden and Paul Jones (Kate Howden and Paul Jones) (1999)
  • Ridgeriders (The Ridgeriders) (1999)
  • Pete (Pete Abbott) (2000)
  • Pendle Moon (Phil Brown) (2000)
  • Stages (Chris While and Julie Matthews) (2000)
  • Classic Folk No. 1 (various artists) (2000)
  • Along the Downs (various artists) (2000)
  • Silver Waters (Kate Howden and Paul Jones (2001)
  • Street Cries (Ashley Hutchings) (2001)
  • Grandson of Morris On (Ashley Hutchings) (2002)
  • Against the Wall (Pete Abbott) (2002)
  • Human Nature (Ashley Hutchings) (2003)
  • Great Grandson of Morris On (Ashley Hutchings & various artists) 2004
  • The Magic of Morris (various artists) (2005)
  • Midwinter (various artists) (2006)
  • Manic Morning Music (Ernesto de Pascale) (2007)

External links[edit]