Woolly Wolstenholme

Composer, lyricist, arranger and orchestrator. Instruments: piano, synths, Hammond organ and sample keyboards. Vocalist.

Stuart ‘Woolly’ Wolstenholme was born in Chadderton, Oldham on April 15th, 1947, and went to school at North Chadderton Secondary Modern. His first instrument was a tenor banjo, which he took up at the age of twelve, 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 in The Sorcerers, then The Keepers, where Woolly played whatever instrument was required, such as harmonica and twelve-string guitar. Later he taught himself keyboards, first the Mellotron and then adapting to organ, piano and synthesisers.

Woolly was a founder member of Barclay James Harvest in 1967, and remained with the band until 1979, when he became frustrated and unhappy at the direction their music was taking. He recorded a solo album entitled Mæstoso in 1980 (produced by David Rohl) and toured as support to Judie Tzuke and Saga (with Kim Turner and Steve Broomhead), as well as writing film and TV music with David. A projected second album was shelved and Woolly lost interest in the music business, taking up farming, originally in Lancashire and then in South Wales. Woolly came out of retirement in 1998 and collaborated with John Lees on the album Nexus – Barclay James Harvest Through the Eyes of John Lees and the live set Revival before releasing a long overdue follow up to Mæstoso, entitled One Drop in a Dry World in May 2004, and returning to live work in the UK with the Mæstoso band. A live CD Fiddling Meanly was rapidly followed by the new studio album Grim and a further collaboration with the renamed John Lees’ Barclay James Harvest.


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