The Famous Potatoes are a group that describe their sound as ‘Soil Music’. The group comprises Keith Baxter (b. 19 October 1957, Rochford, Essex, England; banjo, trombone, washboard, zobstick), Richard Baxter (b. 13 August 1959, Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex, England; vocals, melodeon, saxophone, harmonica), Nigel Blackaby (b. 27 November 1958, Rochford, Essex, England; bass, vocals), Paul Collier (b. 12 February 1959, Rochford, Essex, England; drum, vocals), Melanie Johnson (b. 2 February 1961, Swindon, Wiltshire, England; recorder, clarinet, vocals), Paul ‘Prof’ McDowell (b. 30 September 1958, Rochford, Essex, England; accordion, vocals), Tony ‘Please Sir’ Littman (b. 17 July 1951, Westcliff-On-Sea, Essex, England; guitar), and Charlie Skelton (b. 8 February 1963, Enfield, Middlesex, England; fiddle). Tony Littman and Skelton replaced former members Nick Pynn (fiddle, mandolin, mandocello, banjo, viola), and Richard ‘Rikki’ Reynolds (guitar) who left the group. Pynn joined the re-formed Cockney Rebel with Steve Harley.
The ‘Potatoes’ style encompasses Cajun, skiffle, hillbilly, gospel, western swing and, apart from concerts, they also play barn dances, and have appeared regularly at the Greenbelt Christian Arts festivals. Having formed in 1979 as the Folk Pistols to play barn dances, original members Johnson, McDowell, and the Baxter brothers have stayed with the band while Blackaby and Collier joined in 1982. As the Folk Pistols they released two albums in cassette format, Get Your Skates On (1981), and Twist With Ken (1982). Soon after this the new name was adopted. It Was Good For My Old Mother attracted a lot of interest on release, not least in their home territory in Essex. The Sound Of The Ground included the Hank Williams’ classic ‘I Saw The Light’.