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Starting out in the sixties as a bluegrass band, as the Strawberry Hill Boys, the repertoire soon shifted to favour their own (mainly Cousins') material. They were the first UK signing to Herb Alpert's A&M Records and recorded their first single “Oh How She Changed” in 1968, which was produced and arranged by two highly influential seventies’ producers, Gus Dudgeon and Tony Visconti, who also worked on their critically acclaimed first album, Strawbs, which was released in 1969. After the folk-tinged Dragonfly, Cousins & Hooper added Rick Wakeman on keyboards and Richard Hudson and John Ford on drums and bass respectively. The new line up had their London debut at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, where Wakeman was trumpeted as “Tomorrow’s Superstar” by Melody Maker. Their third album, Antiques and Curios, the first to have a US release, was taken from that concert. Wakeman stayed with them for a further album, From The Witchwood, then departed to join Yes, being replaced by Blue Weaver who had previously been with Amen Corner and Fairweather This line-up produced what many feel to be the archetypal Strawbs album Grave New World, before yet another change, the departure of founder member Hooper, replaced by rocker Dave Lambert, formerly of Fire and the King Earl Boogie Band.

Lambert’s arrival in 1972 coincided with a move towards a harder rock style, also evidenced by Cousins’ solo album recorded that summer, with guests such as Roger Glover from Deep Purple, Jon Hiseman from Colosseum. The first single with Lambert on board “Lay Down” hit the UK charts at number 12, followed by a single from the album penned by Ford and Hudson, “Part Of The Union”, which went up to number 2. The album Bursting At The Seams also reached number 2 in the album charts and the band undertook a 52 date UK tour to packed houses. Unfortunately during the course of a US tour, tensions came to a head and the Bursting At The Seams band did just that, with Hudson and Ford splitting off to record their own material, firstly as Hudson Ford, later as The Monks and High Society. Weaver also left the band, eventually finding a comfortable (and highly lucrative) gig with the Bee Gees; he also played with Mott The Hoople

Cousins and Lambert rebuilt the band, adding John Hawken (formerly Nashville Teens) on keyboards, Rod Coombes formerly with Stealers Wheel and Chas Cronk on bass. This line-up recorded Hero and Heroine and Ghosts, and tended to concentrate on the North American market with relatively little touring in the UK. Strawbs still retain a great fan-base today in the US and Canada. Hero And Heroine went platinum in Canada, and both albums sold extremely well in the US too. A further album, Nomadness, recorded without Hawken, was less successful, and was their last for A&M Records. Signed to the Deep Purple-owned Oyster label, they recorded two more albums with two keyboardists replacing Hawken – Robert Kirby, also known for his string arrangements (notably Nick Drake) and John Mealing of jazz-rock group If. Coombes was replaced by Tony Fernandez for a further album Deadlines, this time on the Arista label. Though recording was complete on a further album Heartbreak Hill, featuring Andy Richards on keyboards, Cousins’ decision in 1980 to leave the band to work in radio effectively signalled the band’s demise, and the album remained in the vaults for many years.

A reunion on Rick Wakeman’s TV show Gas Tank in 1983, resulted in an invitation to reform to headline 1983’s Cambridge Folk Festival. The Grave New World line up plus Brian Willoughby (who had replaced Lambert when he left in 1978 during the making of Heartbreak Hill, and had also begun a partnership with Dave Cousins as an acoustic duo from 1979 onwards) went on from there to perform occasionally in the UK, US, and Europe over the next few years, replacing Weaver with Chris Parren from the Hudson Ford band and Ford himself (when he relocated to the US) with bass player Rod Demick. 1993 saw the band touring in the UK for their 25th anniversary, but the next few years proved rather quiet. Until 1998, that is, when Cousins staged a 30th anniversary bash in the grounds of Chiswick Park in London, which saw several different line-ups of the band perform on a bright summer’s day in the open air. The final line-up of the night – Bursting At The Seams line-up plus Willoughby – became the ongoing version of the band, with an annual tour in 1999, 2000 and 2001.

An injury to Cousins’ wrist coinciding with a Cousins & Willoughby commitment brought Dave Lambert in to work with Cousins & Willoughby, which soon became Acoustic Strawbs, recording an album Baroque And Roll in 2001. That trio began to tour on a regular basis - first in the UK, then the US and Canada, and on into Europe. The three guitars of Acoustic Strawbs effortlessly reproducing much of the majesty and depth of the “big” Strawbs keyboard-laden instrumentation. Willoughby was replaced by Chas Cronk when Willoughby left in 2004 to spend more time working with his partner Cathryn Craig. Chas has brought bass and bass pedals, which further add to the depth of the Acoustic Strawbs sound. 2004 also saw the return of the Hero And Heroine line-up of the electric band, touring in tandem with the acoustic line-up, and recording their first new album for 25 years, Deja Fou, on the Strawbs own record label Witchwood Records.

As of 2007 the Strawbs are still recording and touring in two formats: the acoustic format comprising Cousins, Lambert and Cronk and also as the entirely original "Hero and Heroine/Ghosts" line-up of the electric band from 1974 - Cousins, Lambert, Cronk, Coombes and Hawken. The line-up undertook two tours in 2006. Release of a live dvd recorded at the Robin 2, Bilston in March 2006 is hoped for before too long (delays owing to licensing difficulties). For that particular recording, and other concerts on the same tour, vocalist and bass player John Ford (member of an earlier Strawbs line-up) flew over from New York to perform with members of the "Hero and Heroine" line-up. The "Hero and Heroine" line-up toured again in 2007 in the UK, including gigs at the Robin 2, Bilston , The Stables, Wavendon, and several locations in Southern and South-Western England.

Discography Edit

Studio & Live Albums Edit

Compilations Edit

Singles Edit

Videos/DVDs Edit

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