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The Watersons


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An English folk group from Hull, Yorkshire, the Watersons performed mainly traditional songs with little or no accompaniment. Their distinctive sound came from their close harmonies.

Original members were Norma Waterson, Mike Waterson, and Lal Waterson, with their cousin John Harrison from Kingston High School. They had a skiffle band in the early 1960s but moved on to playing more traditional material. They were briefly known as “The Folksons”.

Their first album was Frost and Fire 1965 (awarded the “Melody Maker” Album of the Year, a rarity for a debut album) followed by The Watersons and A Yorkshire Garland in 1966. The Watersons split up in 1968 when Norma went to work as a disc jockey on a radio station on Montserrat.

The group reformed in 1972 with John Harrison briefly replaced by Bernie Vickers. He in turn was replaced the same year by Norma’s husband, and respected folk singer in his own right, Martin Carthy. This lineup recorded For Pence and Spicy Ale (1975), Sound, Sound Your Instruments of Joy (1977), and Green Fields (1981).

Later lineups featured Mike Waterson’s daughter Rachel Waterson, who briefly replaced Lal during a leave of absence caused by ill health in the mid-1980s, then continued to sing with the group on Lal’s return.

Lal Waterson died in 1998 and by the early 1990s Martin Carthy, Norma Waterson and their daughter Eliza Carthy had formed the group Waterson:Carthy.


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  • headey1p

    @boyflower -I think maybe we are in awe and lost for words.

    6 Jan 2014 Reply
  • KeithJones

    RIP Mike

    19 Jul 2011 Reply
  • tsintskaro

    Mike passed away at 3am this morning (22 June 2011).

    22 Jun 2011 Reply
  • acrogers11

    Heard about these folks in a Bert Jansch documentary, and I am floored. Their music is beautiful.

    3 Feb 2011 Reply
  • tsintskaro

    They are a household name around my gaff, but what can be said? One of the most remarkable bands in English musical history, and that's before we consider all the offshoots...

    17 Nov 2010 Reply
  • boyflower

    one shout? the watersons should be a household name.

    17 Nov 2010 Reply
  • switchfoot_3d

    so beautiful

    3 May 2009 Reply

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