The Settlers (band)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

The Settlers were a folk-oriented group from the English West Midlands,[1] who formed in the mid-1960s. They started out as a trio comprising Cynthia 'Cindy' Kent (vocals and tambourine; born 7 August 1945, Oldbury, Worcestershire[2]), Mike Jones (vocals and guitar; born Michael Edwin Jones, 16 September 1943, Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire – 11 May 2008, Exeter, Devon) [3] and John Fyffe (banjo; born 3 July 1943, Uddingston, South Lanarkshire, Scotland), but added a bassist, Mansel Davies (born 22 March 1942, South Wales).

Formation and genre[edit]

The Settlers were initially known as the Birmingham Folk Four, but became known as the Settlers after their first single, "Settle Down".[4] A six-month residency on the BBC television series, Singalong, led to support bookings on tours with, among others, Dusty Springfield, Roy Orbison and The Small Faces.[5] The Settlers have generally been referred to as a folk group. However, like the Seekers, the successful Australian group with which they shared marked similarities,[5] some of their material gravitated towards mainstream pop, which, taking its cue from American singer-songwriters Bob Dylan and Joan Baez and such groups as Peter, Paul and Mary, We Five and The Byrds, readily absorbed folk influences in various ways in the mid-1960s.[citation needed] The Settlers’ melodic style[5] was largely settled before the advent of British folk-rock in the guise of Fairport Convention and Pentangle later in the sixties.

In 1969, the band appeared with Cliff Richard, Una Stubbs and William Hartnell amongst others in a six-part religious themed drama serial on ITV. The series, produced by Tyne Tees TV was not networked and thus reached a limited audience. Only three of the six episodes have survived.[6]

Musical output[edit]

The Settlers' first single "Sassafras"/"Settle Down", was released in 1964. They became quite well known nationally, assisted by frequent appearances on television and, until 1967, regular exposure on offshore pirate radio stations. In particular, their recording of John Lennon and Paul McCartney’s "Nowhere Man" (1965) was, together with The Overlanders’ 1966 UK No.1 hit, "Michelle", and The Truth’s version of "Girl", among the best known covers of songs from the Beatles' album, Rubber Soul (1965). However, although "Nowhere Man" reached a high of No.5 in Radio London's non-sales based Fab 40 in March 1966 [7] and the group's spirited version of Gordon Lightfoot's "Early Morning Rain" received a good deal of airplay in May 1966,[8] the Settlers did not succeed in enjoying a Top 40 hit during the 1960s. Their most successful record, "The Lightning Tree" (helped along due to its use as the theme tune of the British TV series Follyfoot), reached No.36 in the UK singles chart in 1971.[9] Like the Seekers, the group also included a double bassist. The original bassist, Mansel Davies, left in 1965 to pursue a career in teaching, and was replaced by Geoff Srdzinski (born Geoffrey Srodzinski, 10 June 1946, Plymouth, Devon), who shared accommodation in Hampstead, London, with Tony Hooper of Strawbs. Hooper's song, "Always on My Mind", was released as a single by the Settlers early in 1967.[10]

Shortly after recording a religious album I Am Your Servant in 1973 Cindy Kent left the band and later released a solo single "I Only Want To Be In The World" on the Beeb label in 1975. By then the line up had changed from acoustic four-part pop folk harmony, to a more contemporary five-piece electric sound with Mike Jones (guitar/banjo/vocals), Andie Sheridan (female vocals), Paul Greedus (guitar/vocals), Chris Johnstone (bass/vocals), and George Jeffrey on drums. In 1974 this line up recorded an album for York Records - The New Sound of the Settlers.

In early 1976 Valery Ann (a.k.a. Valeryan/Valerie Anne Lawrence) replaced Andie Sheridan as female vocalist, and the line up changed back to four piece acoustic close harmony with Mike Jones (guitar/banjo/fiddle/vocals), Paul Greedus (bass/vocals/occasional piano*),Valery Ann (vocals/tambourine/occasional guitar*),Steve Smith (vocals/guitar). Steve (full name Steve Somers-Smith) joined in 1975 after winning ATV's 'New Faces' as a singer/songwriter with his own song 'Mavis Brown'. Steve stayed with the group until its demise in the early '80s. It was this line up that went into the studios to record "Whichaway Billy" for Riverdale. The single was released in October 1976 soon after Valery Ann left the band to pursue a solo career.

Patty Vetta, well known on the British folk club circuit supplied the female voice to the now original Settlers acoustic/harmony vocal sound and like Steve Smith stayed with the group until the end in the early 80's

"Plaisir d'amour" - Valery Ann's original version "My Love Loves Me" was released on Decca in 1965 while she was still at school in Surrey. Valery Ann, as singer/songwriter Valeryan, is still producing solo albums for Speakeasy Recordings, all of which can be found on I-TUNES and Amazon; these include Rolling Road (2012); Reflections (2013) which includes a re-mastered version of the original "My Love Loves Me" and two Settlers tracks "Whichaway Billy" and "Hobbit Land"; White Christmas (2013); and July 14 (November 2015). In 2015 came the single As the Night Draw In and in 2017 an album in conjunction with USA Radio Station Groovy Reflections. The album also takes the name Groovy Reflections and again includes The Settlers 1976 release Whichaway Billy and Hobbit Land.


The Settlers' albums included their debut Sing Out for Decca Records in the UK, and London Records in the U.S. (1964), which featured an eclectically varied selection of folk songs, including "The Keeper", "Over the Stone", "The Three Jolly Rogues of Lynn" and "The Golden Vanity", Ewan MacColl's "Dirty Old Town" and "Shoals of Herring", Matt McGinn's "Coorie Doon", and "Frog Went A-Courtin'"

Whereas Go!, (Pye Records, 1966) paired the group with The Overlanders both separately and together. The eponymous The Settlers, for (Island Records, 1967) included Bob Dylan's "Blowin' in the Wind" and "Mr Tambourine Man" and such folk standards as "The Wreck of the Old 97". Call Again for (Marble Arch Records, 1968) collected the group's singles output for Pye Records, and was released after they had left that record label.

Settlers Alive for (Columbia Records, 1970) was recorded live at Queen Elizabeth Hall the previous year, whilst Sing a New Song (Myrrh, 1972), had a strongly religious component. Lightning Tree (York, 1972), which, in addition to the title hit, included extracts, spoken by Cindy Kent, from Martin Luther King’s famous I Have a Dream speech of 1963. Lightning Tree was re-released by Decca in 1974 as The World of the Settlers .

Cindy Kent[edit]

As has often been the case with sole female members of bands, Cindy Kent (like Judith Durham of the Seekers) attracted her own share of attention. No doubt this was due in part to her fine singing voice, photogenic good looks, and tendency to wear mini-skirts. But her public espousal of Christianity brought her into contact with the singer Cliff Richard, a prominent born again Christian, and they both contributed to various events with a Christian theme.

Kent worked at Radio 4, Radio 2, and Radio 1 (in that order), and later became a broadcaster on London’s first legal commercial radio stations, LBC and Capital Radio, as well as Sheffield’s Radio Hallam,[11] and in 1995 was the first presenter recruited to the team for Premier Christian Radio,[12] where she stayed until 2010.[13] She describes herself as a high church or catholic Anglican Christian. In 2005 she was admitted as a Reader in the Church of England; on 30 June 2007 she was ordained as a deacon; the following year (2008) she was ordained as a priest. She was Priest-in-Charge of the parish of St John, Whetstone in the Diocese of London from 2010 until her retirement in 2016. [14] In 2016 she received an MBE for services to religious broadcasting,[15] and moved to the Isle of Sheppey.[16]


  1. ^ See, for example, Castle CD, Brum Beat: the Story of the 1960s Midland Sound (2006), which included the Settlers' recording of Gordon Lightfoot's Early Morning Rain.
  2. ^ "The Good News - Arts". Archived from the original on 28 September 2007. Retrieved 18 April 2007.
  3. ^ Mike Jones dies aged 64 –[dead link]
  4. ^ The Times obituary of Mike Jones, 21 July 2008
  5. ^ a b c The Times, 21 July 2008
  6. ^ William Hartnell as Cliff Richard's father - From the Heart of Europe
  7. ^ Radio London - Big L Fab Forty 20 March 1966
  8. ^ Early Morning Rain was Ed Stewart's "climber" on Radio London for the week beginning 22 May 1966 [1].
  9. ^ Guinness British Hit Singles (15th ed, 2002)
  10. ^ [2]. This was not the same song recorded by Elvis Presley in the early-1970s and which was subsequently a hit for The Pet Shop Boys in the 1980s.
  11. ^ Her employment history in radio is catalogued on this page. Archived 26 April 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ Her Premier profile may be viewed here. Archived 27 April 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ Dan Wooding (6 August 2010). "The next chapter in the extraordinary life of Cindy Kent". Christian Today. Retrieved 9 October 2018.
  14. ^ See shown here] Crockford’s Clerical Directory.
  15. ^ "Premier Christian Radio presenter Cindy Kent awarded MBE". Premier Christian Radio. 10 June 2016. Retrieved 9 October 2018.
  16. ^ "Former Settlers singer the Rev Cindy Kent has retired and moved to the Isle of Sheppey". Kent Online. 12 June 2016. Retrieved 9 October 2018.