Woolly Wolstenholme

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Woolly Wolstenholme
Woolly Wolstenholme, Holmfirth 2009.jpg
Background information
Birth name Stuart John Wolstenholme
Also known as Woolly
Born(1947-04-15)15 April 1947
Origin Chadderton, Lancashire, England
Died 13 December 2010(2010-12-13) (aged 63)
Occupation(s) Musician
Instruments Keyboards
Years active 1960s–2010
Associated acts
Website www.woollywolstenholme.co.uk

Stuart John "Woolly" Wolstenholme (15 April 1947 – 13 December 2010) was a vocalist and keyboard player with the British progressive rock band Barclay James Harvest. [1]

Barclay James Harvest English progressive rock band

Barclay James Harvest are an English progressive rock band. They were founded in Oldham, in September 1966 by guitarist/vocalist John Lees, bassist/vocalist Les Holroyd, keyboardist/vocalist Stuart "Woolly" Wolstenholme (1947–2010), and drummer/percussionist Mel Pritchard (1948–2004).



Wolstenholme was born in Chadderton, Lancashire on 15 April 1947, and went to school at North Chadderton Secondary Modern School. His first instrument was a tenor banjo, which he took up at the age of 12, and he also played tenor horn for the Delph band. He met John Lees at Oldham School of Art and Woolly played tambourine and sang with John in the Sorcerers, then the Keepers, where Woolly played whatever instrument was required, such as harmonica and twelve-string guitar. [2]

Chadderton town within the Metropolitan Borough of Oldham, in Greater Manchester, England

Chadderton is a town within the Metropolitan Borough of Oldham, in Greater Manchester, England. It lies along the course of the River Irk and the Rochdale Canal, on undulating land in the foothills of the Pennines, 1 mile (1.6 km) west of Oldham, 4.5 miles (7.2 km) south of Rochdale and 6 miles (9.7 km) northeast of the city of Manchester.

Lancashire County of England

Lancashire is a ceremonial county in North West England. The administrative centre is Preston. The county has a population of 1,449,300 and an area of 1,189 square miles (3,080 km2). People from Lancashire are known as Lancastrians.

North Chadderton School is a mixed gender secondary school and sixth form, located in Chadderton, in the Metropolitan Borough of Oldham, Greater Manchester, England.

The pair then founded Barclay James Harvest, together with Les Holroyd and Mel Pritchard, in 1967. Woolly taught himself keyboards, first the Mellotron and then adapting to organ, piano and synthesisers. His musical influences ranged from Love and Vanilla Fudge through Mahler to UK and Radiohead. Woolly remained with Barclay James Harvest until 1979, when he became frustrated and unhappy at the direction their music was taking. [3]

Melvyn Paul "Mel" Pritchard was the drummer with the British progressive rock band, Barclay James Harvest.

Mellotron musical instrument

The Mellotron is an electro-mechanical, polyphonic tape replay keyboard originally developed and built in Birmingham, England, in 1963. It evolved from a similar instrument, the Chamberlin, but could be mass-produced more effectively. The instrument is played by pressing its keys, each of which presses a length of magnetic tape against a capstan, drawing it across a playback head. Then as the key is released, the tape is retracted by a spring to its initial position. Different portions of the tape can be played to access different sounds.

Organ (music) musical keyboard instrument

In music, the organ is a keyboard instrument of one or more pipe divisions or other means for producing tones, each played with its own keyboard, played either with the hands on a keyboard or with the feet using pedals. The organ is a relatively old musical instrument, dating from the time of Ctesibius of Alexandria, who invented the water organ. It was played throughout the Ancient Greek and Ancient Roman world, particularly during races and games. During the early medieval period it spread from the Byzantine Empire, where it continued to be used in secular (non-religious) and imperial court music, to Western Europe, where it gradually assumed a prominent place in the liturgy of the Catholic Church. Subsequently it re-emerged as a secular and recital instrument in the Classical music tradition.

He recorded a solo album, Mæstoso, in 1980, and toured as support to Judie Tzuke and Saga, as well as writing film and TV music. A projected second album, Black Box, was shelved and Woolly lost interest in the music business, preferring instead to farm, initially in Lancashire and later in West Wales. Tapes from the sessions for his second album were finally issued in 1994, along with the complete Mæstoso album, as Songs from the Black Box.

Judie Tzuke British singer-songwriter

Judie Tzuke is an English singer-songwriter. She is best known for her 1979 hit "Stay with Me till Dawn", which reached number 16 on the UK Singles Chart.

Saga (band) Canadian rock band

Saga is a Canadian rock band, from Oakville, Ontario. Jim Crichton and Welsh-born vocalist Michael Sadler were the principal songwriters, and guitarist Ian Crichton also recorded several solo albums as well as sessions with Asia.

West Wales

West Wales is the western region of Wales.

Woolly returned to the music business in 1998 after meeting John Lees again, [3] and this resulted in the Eagle Records album Nexus credited to Barclay James Harvest Through the Eyes of John Lees. The album was followed by live shows in Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Greece and the UK, the first British concerts by any members of Barclay James Harvest for nine years, and Eagle released a live album called Revival. A studio follow-up with the working title North was planned and recording began at Lees's Friarmere Studios, but after only a few days the project was shelved because Lees felt that due to a number of factors, the timing was not right to do justice to a new album.

Eagle Records record label in the USA

Eagle Records is an English record label, a division of Universal Music Group and Eagle Rock Entertainment.

A new CD of the Black Box sessions with previously unreleased material (including a brand new demo) was released in February 2004 as Black Box Recovered, and a new studio set, One Drop in a Dry World, followed in May 2004. A short UK tour was planned to promote the CD, but in the event only one concert, at London's Mean Fiddler, went ahead, on 12 May. The live set, including rarely heard BJH classics as well as Mæstoso material, was captured for posterity and released on a limited, warts and all live CD, Fiddling Meanly, released in February 2005. On 27 November 2004 Mæstoso played again in London, this time as support to Caravan at the Bloomsbury Theatre. At this show John Lees also made a surprise guest appearance for two songs.

Caravan are an English band from the Canterbury area, founded by former Wilde Flowers members David Sinclair, Richard Sinclair, Pye Hastings and Richard Coughlan in 1968. The band have never achieved the great commercial success that was widely predicted for them at the beginning of their career, but are nevertheless considered a key part of the Canterbury scene, blending psychedelic rock, jazz and classical influences to create a distinctive progressive rock sound.

Bloomsbury Theatre theatre in London, England

The Bloomsbury Theatre is a theatre on Gordon Street, Bloomsbury, in the London Borough of Camden, owned by University College London.

This proved to be one of Woolly's most creative periods, with another Mæstoso studio album, Grim, appearing in October 2005, and a brand new album, Caterwauling, released in November 2007. Most of the Maestoso band also found time between recording commitments to perform as part of John Lees' Barclay James Harvest, including a full-scale UK tour in October and November 2006.

Wolstenholme took his own life on 13 December 2010, after a battle with mental illness. [4]


Barclay James Harvest

Woolly Wolstenholme played on all albums of Barclay James Harvest up to XII (1978).

Later albums

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  1. "BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST music, discography, MP3, videos and reviews". Progarchives.com. Retrieved 2012-01-02.
  2. Barclay James Harvest Biography
  3. 1 2 7d 23h. "WOOLLY WOLSTENHOLME'S MAESTOSO music, discography, MP3, videos and reviews". Progarchives.com. Retrieved 2012-01-02.
  4. Woolly Wolstenholme website. Quote: "It is with profound sorrow that we have to announce the passing of Woolly Wolstenholme. In recent weeks Woolly's mental health had taken a turn for the worse and sadly he took his own life on Monday 13 December 2010. In this difficult time our thoughts are with Woolly's partner, Sue. We would ask all of Woolly's fans to remember his incredible contribution to popular music and his unique presence on stage."