All Around my Hat

The Steeleye Span Story

John Van Der Kiste

Formed in 1969 as a traditional folk group, they gradually moved into folk-rock territory, with their disdain for the more purist elements, and a love of mixing original material with traditional songs and ambitious musical arrangements. This biography examines the music, line-up changes, highs and lows, and periods of their commercial success.
Date Published :
February 2020
Publisher :
Fonthill Media
Illustration :
33 color and black & white
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding : Paperback
ISBN : 9781781557457
Pages : 176
Dimensions : 9.21 X 6.14 inches
Stock Status : In stock


Steeleye Span have been at the forefront of British folk-rock for almost half a century. Formed in 1969 by Ashley Hutchings after his departure from Fairport Convention, the genre’s founding fathers, and named after a character in an old Lincolnshire song, they began as a traditional folk group but gradually moved more into folk-rock territory. They dismayed some fans but acquired many others, with their disdain for the more purist elements, and a love of mixing original material with traditional songs, ambitious musical arrangements, multi-part harmonies, collaborations with pop producer and arranger Mike Batt and writer Terry Pratchett, and even occasional guest appearances on their records from Peter Sellers and David Bowie. This biography looks in detail at the music, the many personnel changes with vocalist Maddy Prior an almost constant presence throughout their long history, the highs and lows, and periods of commercial success – notably with the hit singles ‘All Around my Hat’ and ‘Gaudete’ - which have made them a well-respected staple of the British music scene for so long.

About The Author

John Van der Kiste has published over forty books including works on royal and historical biography, local history, true crime, music and fiction, and is a contributor to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. His previous titles include Queen Victoria's Children, Kaiser Wilhelm II and The Romanovs: Tsar Alexander II of Russia and his Family and ‘Alfred—Queen Victoria's Second Son’ and ‘Prussian Princesses’ for Fonthill. He lives in Devon.


Foreword; 1 ‘Let’s really try to sell folk records’;2 ‘To endear people rather than wow them’; 3 ‘A new enthusiasm, a new purpose’; 4 ‘There were no rules’; 5 ‘All around Mike Batt’; 6 ‘Everybody’s going to be bending’; 7 ‘A mixture of embarrassment and fascination’; 8 ‘She fired the kiln from the start’; 9 ‘A longevity that defies logic’; Appendix: Discography; Endnotes; Bibliography; Index.

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