SONGS about cider drinking and combine harvesters reaped success for a band which became sixties and seventies chart sensations.

It was 50 years ago that The Wurzels took the pop world by storm and the seeds for their success were sown in the backroom of a Southampton pub.

Hailing from Somerset, The Wurzels were formed in 1966 as the backing group for singer/songwriter Adge Cutler.

He came up with the band’s name, which is short for mangelwurzel, a crop grown to feed livestock.

The Wurzels particular genre of music was named Scrumpy and Western after the group’s first EP of the same name issued early in 1967.

This picture shows Adge Cutler and The Wurzels in full flow in one of their sessions in the early sixties at The Bassett in Burgess Road, which was The Concorde’s home before moving to Stoneham Lane, Eastleigh.

Accordion player Tommy Banner is the longest serving Wurzel, joining the band in November 1967.

The Wurzels became pop stars overnight when their single, Drink Up Thy Zider hit the charts in 1966. The B side, Twice Daily was banned by the BBC for being too raunchy.

Other hits included The Combine Harvester and I Am A Cider Drinker.

Sadly, Adge Cutler was only 44 when he died.

He was in his MGB sports car when it overturned on a roundabout approaching the Severn Bridge. He had been returning alone from a Wurzels show in Hereford in May 1974.

Concorde boss Cole Mathieson has fond memories of Adge Cutler who became a regular at The Concorde on and off stage.

Adge is pictured (second left) having a barrel of laughs behind the bar at The Concorde in its Bassett days. Also pictured are the landlord Tiny Smith (extreme left) and Cole Mathieson (far right).

Cole said: “Adge was a really nice bloke and I was shocked when he died. As well as performing at the club he used to pop in when he visited France, which was a favourite place of his. It was in the days when Thoresen Ferries were operating from Southampton.”

Although over the years there have been many changes in the line-up, Adge Cutler’s music lives on through the current crop of Wurzels.

Nearly 50 years after the band made its Concorde debut, the band is returning to the Stoneham Lane club on April 7, supported by comedian Jack Glanville.

Adge’s death marked a turning point in the history of The Wurzels. Deprived of the main song writing talent, the remaining Wurzels recorded The Wurzels Are Scrumptious! in 1975.

It was an album containing many favourites from the back catalogue, including a number of previously unrecorded Cutler written songs.

To survive, the band needed its own songs and these mostly took the formula of re-written popular pop songs of the time with the lyrics changed to include the usual Wurzel themes – farming, local villages, Cheddar cheese and of course cider making.

In 1976 the band released The Combine Harvester, a re-work of the song Brand New Key by Melanie which became a UK hit, topping the charts for two weeks.

The Wurzels quickly followed its success with the release of a number of similar themes such as I Am A Cider Drinker.

As well as a series of appearances in the sixties, The Wurzels were back at The Concorde in 1970 when the club moved from The Bassett to their current Eastleigh home.

Other musicians in those opening weeks included Shakin Stevens and Peter Sarstedt.

The combine harvesters will soon be roaring into town for another mouth-watering brew of cider-flavoured music.

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