b. 3 January 1966, Lyndhurst, Hampshire, England. One of the foremost exponents of the hurdy gurdy, a stringed instrument that is essentially a mechanical violin but sounds like the bagpipes, Eaton has been a dynamic presence on the UK folk scene since the early 80s. He originally played the piano and cello, but switched to the hurdy gurdy after his father started making the instrument. Eaton joined the pioneering folk dance unit Blowzabella in 1985, featuring on a string of excellent albums recorded in the late 80s. During this period he also recorded a dance music-orientated album with Blowzabella’s Paul James under the Ancient Beatbox moniker.
After Blowzabella disbanded in 1990, Eaton enlisted the help of James and fellow hurdy gurdy player Cliff Stapleton to record his solo debut, The Music Of The Hurdy-Gurdy, on which he tackled a mixture of classical, traditional and modern pieces. He also recorded a duo album with another Blowzabella colleague, button accordion player Andy Cutting. During the 90s, Eaton also worked with vocalist Julie Murphy in Whirling Pope Joan and with Stapleton and piper Chris Walshaw in the Duellists, in addition to joining the re-formed line-up of Blowzabella. His second solo album, which featured largely self-composed material and experimented with pop and dance fusion, was released in 2002. Eaton’s session credits included appearances on albums by Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, Scott Walker and Marc Almond, and several soundtrack recordings.