Pigsty Hill Light Orchestra

Biography by

Late-'60s/'70s British folk act inspired by blues and jazz of the 1920s and '30s.
Read Full Biography

Artist Biography by

This folk act formed to play at a New Years Party organised by folk singer Fred Wedlock in 1968. All the members came from various UK folk units: Dave Creech (b. 4 March 1938, Bristol, England; trumpet, vocals, jug, trumpet mouthpiece) from the Elastic Band, Barry Back (b. 10 April 1944, Bristol, England, d. 2 April 1992; guitar, vocals, kazoo) and Andy Leggett (31 March 1942, Much Wenlock, Shropshire, England; vocals, guitar, brass) from the Alligator Jug Thumpers, and John Turner (b. 2 January 1947, Bristol, Avon, England; vocals, bass) from the Downsiders folk group. The party, held at the Troubadour club in Clifton, Bristol, England, became the birthplace of the Pigsty Hill Light Orchestra. The style of music was loosely based on jazz and blues from the 20s and 30s, and a variety of unorthodox instruments were employed to produce what became a highly original sound. Whether it be a paraffin funnel, ballcock sections from toilets, jugs and so on, they played it. In 1970, they released Phlop!, and Melody Maker magazine voted them one of the bands most likely to succeed. The following year, they made their first Cambridge Folk Festival appearance. Fred Wedlock’s The Folker and Frollicks, released in 1971 and 1973 respectively, featured members from the PHLO.

Sadly, after a busy time playing the club and college circuit both at home and abroad, the group disbanded in May 1979. During that time, there had been various personnel changes, Turner had left in 1970, and Back departed in 1972. That same year the band was augmented by Dave Paskett (b. Dave Paskett Smith, 3 June 1944, Potters Bar, Hertfordshire, England; vocals/guitar), who remained for only two years, and John Hays (percussion/vocals), who stayed until 1979. In 1974, with the departure of both Leggett and Paskett, Chris Newman (b. 30 October 1952, Stevenage, Hertfordshire, England; guitar/bass) joined, as did Henry Davies (bass/brass). More changes occurred in 1975 with the departure of Davies, when Ricky Gold (bass) joined them. A year later, in 1976, Robert Greenfield (b. 14 May 1949, Norfolk, England; guitar) joined as Newman had now left the group. Finally, after Greenfield left in 1978, they were joined by Patrick Small (guitar/kazoo/vocals). Bill Cole (bass), joined the group for a short while, and appeared on 1971’s Piggery Joker. He had also played with the Ken Colyer Band.

Despite the fairly frequent changes in their line-up, the Pigsty Hill Light Orchestra was still able to secure a strong and loyal following, and continued recording. A chance telephone call came in 1988, asking Back to resurrect the line-up for a ‘one-off’ booking at the Village Pump Festival, Trowbridge, Wiltshire. The group, this time, included Hannah Wedlock, Fred’s daughter, on vocals. They made regular appearances at folk clubs and festivals, reaching a new audience to add to those who knew them first time round. True to form, more changes occurred with the departure of both Small and Wedlock in December 1991. They were replaced by Jim Reynolds (b. 15 August 1950, Bristol, Avon, England; vocals/guitar) and Dave Griffiths (b. 23 August 1948, Leeds, West Yorkshire, England; mandolin, fiddle, bass, washboard), reverting the five-piece group to its early jug band sound.