The Full Story
In 1974 as a teenager, Neil Oliver Maggs was at school, into music, listening to David Bowie, Marc Bolan, Pink Floyd - their seminal album DARK SIDE OF THE MOON had recently been released. Then we heard of Adge's death, and I started listening to his songs. Songs about places I knew, names I saw out of the car window as we drove around the West Country. I was into Adge music, and first saw the remaining three Wurzels in Exmouth whilst on a family holiday, 1976. Combine Harvester was Number One, I was hooked by the fun, the laughter, the local accents.
Forward over 30 years and a holiday in Salzburg, Austria, all Sound of Music, Julie Andrews, CLIMB EVERY MOUNTAIN and all. Except that story is almost totally made up; the most loved Cinema Musical is so made up that I realised a musical could be created from almost anything. Light Bulb Moment: a musical about Adge Cutler!! First version was written in 2012, rewritten a couple of times and in 2014 had a version I thought was good enough for the stage. I was introduced to Andy Ford thanks to a dog, Pudsey, God bless his paws. Andy was in Panto at the Bristol Hippodrome with Ashleigh and Pudsey the BGT winners, I asked what he thought of a musical about Adge, sent him a copy of the script, and was amazed to find him an even bigger fan of Adge than I was!!
I spent the next 2 years talking to theatre types trying to get the show DRINK UP THY CIDER put on. No joy. So in 2017 I got bolshy and said 'I'm putting this on myself, it's too good a story not to'. I found the Redgrave Theatre staff really helpful and got a bit of sponsorship. Andy was great, he adapted my script and added a few funnier bits than I could have thought of, and introduced me to a lot of people that could help; a few performers I knew wanted in, and we had a show. September 2017, and did the people just loved it!! That was then, this is now, it's back, better than before. So enjoy the story of the lad from Nailsea, his songs, his humour, all brought back to us by Andy Ford.
When West Country Comedian and Pantomime Star Andy Ford was approached by Neil Maggs with the original script of Drink Up Thy Cider, his first thought was… I must find a way to do this!
Andy had been a fan of Adge Cutler from a young lad and in fact when he began performing at the age of 12 alot of the songs he sang were by Adge Cutler and the Wurzels.
He read the script and discussed with Neil whether he could add material and adapt the Play for the Theatre Stage. Neil was happy to accept Andy’s offer and the rest as they say is history. ‘Drink Up Thy Cider’ made it’s Theatre debut in Bristol at The Redgrave Theatre in 2017 with Andy in the Lead role and it returns this year to the same Venue with an updated script and new songs written by Andy to enhance the storytelling of Adge’s life. Andy says,’Every so often an opportunity comes along that you know is tailor made for you, and this Comedy Musical is right up there for me!’.
John started The John Miles Organisation in 1958, representing Rock ‘n’ Roll bands plus booking all the major recording artistes, and eight years later and three years after the explosion of the Liverpool scene he was representing over 300 bands with 40 working in Germany. John decided to transfer all the bands to another agency so that he could concentrate on a few acts, and the first person to walk into his office was Adge in June 1966.
Adge had written a number of songs based mainly on people and places around the West Country. A backing group was formed and the birth of Adge Cutler and the Wurzels was started.
He felt it was vital to try and get a record released with a major recording company and decided to approach someone that he had dealt with for many years, Bob Barratt, a producer at EMI. Bob agreed to allow Adge and the Wurzels a whole day to put on tape all their songs at Abbey Road Studio 2, where The Beatles had recorded most of their hits.
In 1966 EMI and all the other major record companies had all made money, but latterly had also lost lots on their latest signings; as the Merseyside etc. sound started to decrease, they were very cautious who they signed. John knew that they had to make a big impression, so suggested Adge and the Wurzels bring all their Wurzel stage clothes. Ten miles outside of London he got them to change. When they pulled up outside Abbey Road, they jumped out of the van dressed in this strange garb. John pushed a milk churn out the door, and with bales of straw falling everywhere the big impression seemed to be working as secretaries were hanging out of the windows to see what all the fuss was.
Later in the studio he noticed a silver-haired man speaking to Bob, who he then introduced to John. He was the Chairman of EMI and in a coversation with John said that he had wondered what all the commotion was, and wanted to listen to the tapes at the end of the day. He did just that and Adge and the Wurzels got their record contact!
Adge Cutler and the Wurzels released their first record Drink Up Thy Zider which made the top 40, and in the following years they sold vast quantities of albums and had an enormous cult following playing clubs throughout the UK.
Sadly, and tragically, Adge died in a road crash in the early hours of May 5th, 1974, just as international fame was beckoning.
John persuaded the Wurzels to continue with the promise that he would get them a No 1 hit. Two years later, in 1976, they had Combine Harvester at No 1, then the follow up I am a Cider Drinker made No 3.
John says, 'I represented Adge Cutler and the Wurzels, and then the Wurzels, for an exciting and enjoyable 21 years, and we are still good friends today.
On the very sad day 47 years ago my greatest wish was for The Wurzels to continue so as Adge and his songs would never be forgotten, so I am so grateful and indebted to The Wurzels for continuing and performing his songs so brilliantly'.