b. Nicholas Charles Strutt, 8 October 1946, Upminster, Essex, England. A talented British country musician, who first played banjo at the age of 15 and then mastered guitar, autoharp, mandolin and bass. In 1965, he relocated to Leeds and graduated from Leeds University in 1970. Between 1966 and 1969, he played in a duo with Roger Knowles, which featured regularly on various radio broadcasts, including the BBCCountry Meets Folk, where they sometimes played with Brian Golbey and Pete Stanley as a four-piece unit. Strutt and Knowles played as support for Hank Snow and Willie Nelson on UK appearances, before their influences saw them turn more to seminal country rock. In 1970 Strutt turned fully professional but between 1969 and 1971, he and Knowles played with Natchez Trace. In 1972, they parted amicably with Knowles opting for more traditional music and Strutt favouring the contemporary. He had already joined Bob Pegg and Carole Pegg in the folk rock band Mr. Fox, and, after this highly rated but commercially unsuccessful unit’s demise, recorded two excellent duo albums with Bob Pegg. When folk rock waned, Strutt returned to country music, playing regularly around the northern country club scene.
In the late 70s, he worked on production and played as a session musician for the now defunct Look label. Here he worked with many artists, especially with Mel Hague but also produced albums for folk singer Alex Campbell and country star Tommy Collins. In the early 80s, he turned more to old-time music again and often worked and recorded with Brian Golbey. He commented that ‘with the advent of New Country, line dancing and blander performances, our picking and grinning style was regarded as a novelty.’ During the mid-80s, Strutt played part-time with various units, including a swing quartet, but returned full-time in 1990. He began teaching guitar, mandolin and bass and appeared regularly with Hague’s band. He also played old-time music at regular venues with banjoist Tim Howard of the Muldoon Brothers. In 1994, he began working with a trio called Finnegan’s Wake.
Over the years, Strutt has refused to be pigeonholed and his mandolin playing is unique. He acknowledges the influence of Bill Monroe and John Duffey but confesses: ‘I was never any good at stealing licks accurately, so I made up my own; copying any instrument I liked be it trumpet, dobro, clarinet or trombone.’ He runs jam sessions in Leeds, which often feature 20 musicians on numerous different instruments.