Strawhead (band)

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Origin Northern England
Genres Folk music
Years active 1974—2012
Members Gregg Butler
Malcolm Gibbons
Chris Pollington

Strawhead is a northern England, Preston-based folk musical group founded in 1974,[1] that specializes in historical British music. Bolstering their national reputation for their accurate and powerful interpretation of the genre of social history of the 16th to 19th centuries,[2] the group's repertoire includes popular songs from the English Civil War era to the Victorian period performed on period and electronic instruments.[1]

The band members are:

The group have engaged in projects associated with disparate musical traditions in British history. In October 2005, Strawhead celebrated the 200th anniversary of 21 October 1805 Battle of Trafalgar through a performance at the 2005 Canalside Festival in the market town of Banbury.[4][5] Other projects have included music of the English Civil War and the Victorian period. The Fylde Folk Festival website lists "subjects such as the colonisation of America, the English Civil War, Marlborough’s Wars in the Low Countries, Monmouth’s Rebellion, and drinking songs."[6]

According to a BBC review, "Strawhead have enjoyed considerable success appearing at the top of the bill at most of the UK's major folk festivals, becoming firm favorites among folk fans."[1] In addition, Strawhead has achieved worldwide recognition for their distinctive sound and interpretation of songs.[7]

Strawhead fueled some controversy when it made a derivate work from an old ballad entitled "The Bold Fusilier".[8] The Bold Fusilier is a British song which some argue predates the 1903 tune to Waltzing Matilda.[9][10] Waltzing Matilda is Australia's most widely known folk song, and has been referred to as 'the unofficial national anthem of Australia.[11] There are similarities between Waltzing Matilda and The Bold Fusilier, making for argument that one of the songs is based on the other song.[12] There is no evidence that The Bold Fusilier is older than Waltzing Matilda and Australia and most sources reject the idea that a British song serves as a parent work for the Australian Waltzing Matilda.[13]

In the 1970s, Strawhead wrote four more verses for The Bold Fusilier and called their resulting song, The Rochester Recruiting Sergeant.[8] The Rochester Recruiting Sergeant was adopted by a generation of folkies and battle re-enactors.[8] The four additional verses called to mind the Marlborough's Wars of 1702 to 1713.[8] In addition, the Strawhead creation sounded so like a relic of Marlborough's wars that many of the folkies and battle re-enactors came to believe that Strawhead's The Rochester Recruiting Sergeant was from the early 18th century.[8] As a result, folkies and battle re-enactors came to mistakenly believe that the 1903 tune of Waltzing Matilda was borrowed from the 1970s The Rochester Recruiting Sergeant, rather than the reverse, even though the sleeve notes to Strawhead's 1978 record features an explanation of how they developed The Rochester Recruiting Sergeant.[8]

In April 2012 Strawhead announced that they were to retire from live performances.

Selected discography[edit]

  • Farewell Musket Fife and Drum - 1977 [14]
  • Fortunes of War - 1978[15]
  • Songs from the Book of England - 1980[16]
  • Through Smoke and Fire - 1982[15]
  • Gentlemen of Fortune - 1984[15]
  • Sedgemoor - 1985[15]
  • Law Lies Bleeding - 1987[15]
  • Victorian Ballads - 1993
  • A Walled Town and a Ragged Staff - 1995
  • Songs of the Civil War - 1997
  • So The Boys Got Together, and Formed a Band....... - 2004
  • Bold Nelson's Praise Disc 1 and Disc 2 - 2005


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Strawhead folk". Coventry and Warwickshire music. BBC. 2002-12-31. Archived from the original on 2004-08-13. Retrieved 2008-06-21. 
  2. ^ The West Briton (28 July 2005) Roseland concert with a difference. Page 50.
  3. ^ "Strawhead - Welcome and News". Strawhead official website. 2007-03-06. Retrieved 2008-06-21. 
  4. ^ Willow, Pete. (26 August 2005) Coventry Telegraph Bandsalute for Nelson.
  5. ^ Bristol Evening Post (5 October 2005) Songs praise Nelson victory. Page. 16.
  6. ^ "Strawhead". Fylde Folk Festival. 2008-01-06. Archived from the original on 2008-04-20. Retrieved 2008-06-21. 
  7. ^ (21 March 2007) Music Lovers. Section: News.
  8. ^ a b c d e f The Times (15 September 2003) Sporting anthems. Section: Features; Page 17.
  9. ^ The Times (1 December 1990) Matilda transported; Diary Section: Features. (writing, "The Bold Fusilier and was originally played by the Duke of Marlborough's soldiers in the 18th century to recruit troops for his Low Countries campaign.")
  10. ^ Maynard, Roger. (5 April 1995) The Times Matilda waltzes into controversy; Waltzing Matilda. Section: Overseas news; Page 9. (writing, "According to evidence revealed in a television documentary ... , to be broadcast in Australia to mark the Matilda centenary, the tune for Waltzing Matilda is based on two songs, Craigielea from Scotland, and The Bold Fusilier, a 17th-century English marching song that had been designed to round up troops for the Duke of Marlborough.")
  11. ^ The National Library of Australia retrieved 14 March 2008
  12. ^ Simpson, Colin. (25 April 1998) The Times A home for Matilda;Travellers' bulletin board; Travel. Section: Features; Page 29.
  13. ^ Northern District Times (5 September 2007) Waltzing to first jingle. Section: 1; Page 19.
  14. ^ Pohle, Horst (1987) The Folk Music Source Book; 2nd ed. Berlin: Horst Pohle; p. 443
  15. ^ a b c d e Pohle 1987
  16. ^ "Strawhead > Discography > Albums". allmusic. Macrovision Corporation. Retrieved 2008-06-21. 

External links[edit]