Locus Focus

No. 19 The Strawbs Out West

Strawberry Hill is the rather upmarket suburb of West London where the Strawbs got their name and their musical start in life. In 1963, a banjo, guitar and mandolin trio – Dave Cousins, Tony Hooper and Arthur Phillips – made their debut in a back-room folk club in Clapham. But it was

a favourite old haunt, the London Apprentice pub in Isleworth, where Cousins and Hooper found themselves struggling to come up with a band name when someone wanted to properly book them for a gig on hearing their bluegrass noodlings. Influenced by American bluegrass band names like The Foggy Mountain Boys and The Rocky Mountain Boys, Cousins appropriately plumped for The Strawberry Hill Boys, a name that eventually got shortened to the more prog, less bluegrass Strawbs. A couple of years passed before the band’s name morphed with familiarity into The Strawbs, whose frequent line-up and genre changes would establish them as chart stars with massive hits Lay Down and Part Of The Union. The location for The Strawbs’ first photocall was another West London landmark. The band were snapped in front of the splendid Georgian architecture of Osterley House for a picture that eventually got used on the cover of their 2012 album Of A Time.

Osterley Park, where Melody Maker photographer Barrie Wentzell shot the Strawbs, is at Jersey Road, Isleworth and is location No.262 in the new edition of Rock Atlas UK & Ireland, published by Red Planet.