Professor Wurzel's Wurzelmania

A Wurzelography

Original Wurzelmania page by 'Zider Ed' - Paul Gunningham and Frank Blades
An incomplete the moment!

Ed Welch (Wurzels musical arranger/director: 1978-1980)

Ed worked as music director and arranger for The Wurzels. He is first credited on the 'I'll Never Get A Scrumpy Here' album in 1978, and he worked alongside Bob Barrett until 1980, after which time he took over the producer role as well.

He is also credited on various Wurzels songs; whether this is for his arrangement of songs, or whether he was involved in the actual songwriting remains a mystery. His last production credit was on the 1980 'I Hate JR' single (and its subsequent inclusion on the 1983 Freshly Cut album)

Ed Welch, Composer and Patron of the Dart Music Festival - First Published May 2010 By 'The Dart'

“I was thrilled and honoured to be asked to become patron of the Dart Music Festival right back at the beginning – it is the most superb event with a great atmosphere! And as patron I don’t have to do anything – just talk about it and enjoy it, and write the odd cheque!”
Composer Ed Welch grins a whiskery smile and offers a warm welcome as he ushers me into the studio at the converted cow barn home he shares with his wife Jane at Widewell – a secret hamlet perched above Torcross, with a stunning view of the glorious Slapton coastline.
As Lily the Labrador batters me with her otter tail, I feel like I’ve wandered onto the flight deck of a plane. A bank of synthesizers fills one side of the room. “I play all of them from one keyboard,” Ed explained. “I start with a piano track, lay on a bass and some trumpet, and away we go. I can make a whole orchestra in this room. In a way it is sad that we don’t need orchestras any more – I can do it all myself. But it gives me the freedom to work here.”
Work these days for Ed mainly involves composing for children’s television. He is currently working on the new series of Grizzly Tales For Gruesome Kids, by Jamie Rix – “cautionary tales along the lines of if you eat too many crisps you’ll explode – narrated by Nigel Planer.”
Ed has been the musical imagination behind a myriad of children’s television favourites including Thomas the Tank Engine, Moppatop Shop and The Hoobs. He’s also responsible for theme tunes that have embedded themselves in our hum libraries – such as One Foot In The Grave and Blockbusters.
The advent of children’s TV channels like Nickelodeon has seen favourites revived with new songs and theme tunes. Ed said: “It’s extremely precise, composing for animation, as the music has to match the film perfectly. As well as the theme music and songs there are all the snatches of music that punctuate the action and convey mood. It’s pretty fiddly.”
Music has shaped Ed’s life. He was born in Oxford, where his parents ran a Dr Barnado’s children’s home. Ed’s father played in dance bands and was a church organist, and was keen that his son should follow in his musical dance steps.
“I was put to the piano at the age of four, and I had some ability so I was encouraged. I was never going to be a concert pianist but I could hold a tune and had a tolerable singing voice, so I sang in the big local church choir and then went to Christchurch Cathedral School where I sang every day and three times on Sundays!”
Ed went on to Ardingly College where he played cello and wrote hymns, then studied composing at Trinity College in London. On the side he was paid £10 to do classical arrangements for demo tapes – “like on Eleanor Rigby – very fashionable at the time.”
His first record as an arranger was released while Ed was at college – against college rules so it came out under the assumed name Edgar Willis. Once he left, his contacts led him to United Artists, producers of big musical scores such as James Bond and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Their head of publishing, Roger Welch, no relation of Ed’s but the brother of Vera Lynn, took him on despite being concerned that he was too proficient at reading music.
Ed worked as a plugger, hawking United Artists’ recordings around well known DJs. He went on to do arrangements, write B-sides and record his own records. He had a long friendship with Spike Milligan after writing for his film Adolf Hitler, His Part In My Downfall. Ed appeared on TV alongside Spike Milligan, performing his own songs including the Carpet Is Always Greener Under Someone Else’s Bed and Love To Make Music By, and songs co-written with Milligan, including Silly Old Baboon. They released an album in 1979.
Ed worked on lots of British films. His last film score was The 39 Steps, starring Robert Powell, but then Ed was told about an idea for a new game show called Blockbusters –the first programme on television every night of the working week.
“I wrote the theme tune – and it changed my life,” Ed said. “My royalty earnings shot up, and I became the composer for TV quizzes. I did Catchphrase, $64,000 Question, All Clued Up and more. Lots were filmed at TVS where Greg Dyke was boss. He wanted to smarten up the regional news programme for the South, Coast To Coast, and I wrote the music for that. It brought in other news programmes including Spotlight and TSW in the South West.”
By this time Ed and Jane had moved away from London. A visit to Jane’s brother at Britannia Royal Naval College prompted a “wow” from the couple at the breathtaking scenery.
“We came to live here in 1978 and I travelled to and fro to meetings in London, but had my studio here,” Ed said. “Our children grew up here. Ellie is now a journalist and lives in the Hebrides, Dominic, a sculptor, is in Chagford, and Jim runs a smallholding in Wales. We also have five grandchildren who are absolutely wonderful!”
Ed’s love of music has shaped his entire life, and he’s keen to pass it on through events like the Dart Music Festival.
“I’m a pragmatic musician – I do music because I can,” said Ed, a keen supporter of Somerset cricket when away from the studio. “I’m lucky that the music I do gets me work and rewards, and it’s still fun.
“The Dart Music Festival gives a platform to really talented people. Quality and variety are tremendous, the atmosphere is amazing – and what a setting! It is a truly brilliant event.”

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