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24 September 2014

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You are in: Somerset > Entertainment and Leisure > Music > News and Features > Celebrating 40 years of being a Wurzel

Tommy Banner

Tommy joined the band in 1967

Celebrating 40 years of being a Wurzel

Tommy Banner celebrates 40 years of being a member of one of the most popular West Country bands- The Wurzels.

Wurzel Hits

Combine Harvester

Drink Up Thy Zider


Farmer Bill's Cowman

I Am A Cider Drinker

The longest serving member of The Wurzels is celebrating 40 years with the West Country band.

Tommy Banner, 68 from Taunton, joined the band after an audition whereby he played two songs; Drink Up Me Cider and Champion Dung Spreader.

Former manager John Miles said Tommy joined the band after it was decided they needed a professional accordian player after their first one did not want to go on stage until the cider was delivered. 

The Wurzels

Tommy plays the accordian in the band

In an interview with BBC Somerset's Adam Thomas, Tommy says he still loves being a member of the band which is most famous for its 1976 number one hit, Combine Harvester.

The Wurzels were formed as a backing group for the late Adge Cutler in 1966. Their style of music has been called 'Scrumpy and Western' after he started playing up his Somerset roots by singing folk songs with local villages, often with a comic slant.

After Adge- the main songwriter- died in a car crash in 1974, John Miles persuaded them to carry on, saying he would get them a number one hit. The band then continued performing popular songs with a Somerset slant- Combine Harvester was a re-working of Brand New Key, a song by Melanie.

Pete Budd was a natural replacement to take over on vocals as he has a strong west country accent unlike Tommy who hails from Penicuik in Scotland and has never managed to shake off his accent.

Tommy Banner with Adam Thomas

The Wurzels have had a string of hits

They followed up this hit with I Am A Cider Drinker which was a re-work of Una Paloma Blanca by Jonathan King.

In the 80s the band released songs including I Hate JR and Sunny Weston-super-Mare.

In 1995, the band released I Want To Be An Eddie Stobart Driver which got into the Top 100. This record, which was sold in the shape of a lorry, sparked off renewed interest in the band.

"Tommy McBanner- the only Scottish Wurzel in captivity"

Founding Wurzel Adge Cutler

In 2001, they re-released Combine Harvester to help raise funds for the farming industry so badly hit that year by Foot and Mouth disease.

In 2007, The Wurzels re-released I Am A Cider Drinker with former radio DJ Tony Blackburn to raise money for BUI Prostate Cancer Care Appeal in Bristol after Tommy contracted prostate cancer in 2005.

This year also saw the band attract numerous press attention after they pulled out of the Glastonbury Festival because the stage they had been allocated meant they could not use their own sound engineers.

Former Wurzel Tony Baylis said: "There can't be many British groups who are still working continuously.

"There are plenty of ageing rockers who get wheeled out of their detox clinics to do an educational tour but there can't be many who have been working week after week for 40 years so I think The Wurzels are an inspiration to all the old age pensioner who can still walk unassisted."

last updated: 14/11/07

Have Your Say

What are your memories of The Wurzels?

The BBC reserves the right to edit comments submitted.

Peter Machin
Congratulations Tommy. 40 years and still rockin with the best. Great to hear from Tony.

shell biggs
singing the wurzel songs over and over with my grandparents,now singing them with my children!,over here in canada

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