Nigel Eaton

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Nigel Eaton
Eaton in 2013
Eaton in 2013
Background information
BornLyndhurst, Hampshire, England
  • Musician
  • furniture maker
Years active1987–present
Formerly of

Nigel Eaton is a British multi-instrumentalist and composer best known for playing the hurdy-gurdy. Born in Lyndhurst, Eaton played the piano and cello before switching to the hurdy-gurdy in 1981 when his father, Christopher Eaton, began manufacturing them.[1] Eaton has been described as the "foremost hurdy-gurdy player in popular music in North America and Europe".[2]


Eaton has performed as a member of a number of different bands, including Whirling Pope Joan (with Julie Murphy), Blowzabella, Ancient Beatbox, The Duellists, and Firestarters of Leiden. He has released two solo albums, The Music of the Hurdy-Gurdy (1987) and Pandemonium (2002), and the collaborative album Panic at the Café (1993) with Andy Cutting.

As a session musician, Eaton has contributed to the film scores for Robin Hood, The Shipping News, Kingdom of Heaven, Aliens, Mansfield Park, Tulip Fever, and Carl Davis's 1980 score for the 1927 silent film Napoléon.[3] Eaton wrote "The Halsway Schottische", a song which later became "The Halsway Carol" (with lyrics by friend and collaborator Iain Frisk) and has seen hundreds of versions performed.[4] He has performed Howard Skempton's Concerto for Hurdy-gurdy and Percussion (written for himself and Evelyn Glennie) with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and the Bournemouth Sinfonietta.[5]

Eaton has collaborated and recorded with a wide range of other artists including Afro Celt Sound System, Loreena McKennitt, Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, Scott Walker, Shelleyan Orphan, New London Consort, Heidi Berry, Gary Kemp, Bombay Bicycle Club, Blue Aeroplanes, Martin Simpson, The Palladian Ensemble, Moya Brennan, Robert Plant, Maddy Prior, June Tabor, Silly Sisters, The Tavener Consort, Jake Walton, and Hamish Moore.

In addition to his work in music and film, Eaton is a designer and maker of built-in furniture in South London.[6]


Solo albums

  • The Music of the Hurdy-Gurdy (1987)
  • Pandemonium (2002)

Collaborative albums

  • Panic at the Café (with Andy Cutting) (1993)

With Blowzabella

  • Wall of Sound (1986)
  • The B to A of Blowzabella (1986)
  • A Richer Dust (1988)
  • Vanilla (1990)

With Ancient Beatbox

  • Ancient Beatbox (1989)

With Whirling Pope Joan

  • Spin (1994)

With The Duellists

  • English Hurdy-Gurdy Music (1997)

Recording credits[edit]

Year Album Artist Credit(s)
1987 Mother Fist Marc Almond & the Willing Sinners Hurdy-gurdy, percussion
1987 Spitting Out Miracles The Blue Aeroplanes Hurdy-gurdy
1987 No More to the Dance Silly Sisters Hurdy-gurdy
1991 Humroot Shelleyan Orphan Hurdy-gurdy
1993 Fate of Nations Robert Plant Hurdy-gurdy on "Come Into My Life" and "I Believe"
1994 The Mask and Mirror Loreena McKennitt Hurdy-gurdy
1994 No Quarter: Jimmy Page and Robert Plant Unledded Jimmy Page & Robert Plant Hurdy-gurdy
1997 Big City Secrets Joseph Arthur Hurdy-gurdy
1997 Les Saisons Amusantes The Palladian Ensemble Hurdy-gurdy
1997 The Book of Secrets Loreena McKennitt Hurdy-gurdy, lira da braccio, rebec
1998 Green Electric David Rice Hurdy-gurdy
1999 Magic & Mayhem Afro Celt Sound System Hurdy-gurdy
1999 Volume 2: Release Afro Celt Sound System Hurdy-gurdy on "Release" and "Release It"
2000 OVO Peter Gabriel Hurdy-gurdy
2001 Volume 3: Further In Time Afro Celt Sound System Hurdy-gurdy on "North" and "Life Begins Again"
2003 Two Horizons Moya Brennan Hurdy-gurdy
2005 Volume 5: Anatomic Afro Celt Sound System Hurdy-gurdy
2006 An Ancient Muse Loreena McKennitt Hurdy-gurdy
2007 Nights from the Alhambra Loreena McKennitt Hurdy-gurdy
2007 The Imagined Village The Imagined Village Hurdy-gurdy
2009 True Stories Martin Simpson Hurdy-gurdy
2011 Mànran Mànran Composer
2018 Lost Souls Loreena McKennitt Hurdy-gurdy


  1. ^ "Nigel Eaton age, hometown, biography". Retrieved 2021-12-23.
  2. ^ Shepherd, John; Wicke, Peter; Laing, Dave; Horn, David; Oliver, Paul, eds. (2003). Continuum Encyclopedia of Popular Music of the World. Vol. 2. London: Bloomsbury Publishing. p. 438. ISBN 978-1-84714-472-0. OCLC 276305444.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: date and year (link)
  3. ^ "Nigel Eaton". IMDb. Retrieved 2021-12-23.
  4. ^ "Halsway Schottische & Halsway Carol". Retrieved 2021-12-29.
  5. ^ Hugill, Planet. "A profound sense of imagination: music for unusual combinations of instruments by Howard Skempton on 'The man hurdy-gurdy and me'". Retrieved 2021-12-29.
  6. ^ "Fitted Alcove Cupboards Built-in Wardrobes, Prices | South London | Nigel Eaton". My Site. Retrieved 2021-12-23.

External links[edit]