Professor Wurzel's Wurzelmania

A Wurzelography

From an original Wurzelmania page by 'Zider Ed' - Paul Gunningham and Frank Blades

Brian Walker       Wurzel from June 1966-March 1967



Brian was the legendary "Fifth Wurzel". He was drafted into Adge's new band in 1966; poached from Acker Bilk's Paramount Jazz Band. He played the 'kind of twisted tuba", later named The Wurzelphone, with some dexterity' on the first Adge Cutler album - most evident on Drink Up Thy Zider. But Wurzelling was not for him, and within a year he quit the band.
With typical modesty, Brian claimed he's not really a musician, although as he has shown he can certainly play well enough for Wurzel music - and prior to being a Wurzel, Brian played in various jazz bands in the Bristol area with such distinguished musicians as Acker Bilk; so he is certainly no amateur!

The Wurzels Archives
In addition to all this, Brian has another claim to fame - he was a gifted cartoonist and illustrator, and  contributed regularly to some of the UK's best-loved children's comics. 

Brian died in May 2020. His daughter Joanne wrote:

My father, Brian Walker, who has died aged 94, was a cartoonist and illustrator whose work appeared across a span of 50 years in comics such as the Beano and the Dandy, in humour-led publications such as Punch, serious magazines such as the Countryman, and in more than 80 books. 

His association with the Countryman was particularly strong, and from 1970 onwards there was rarely an issue to which he did not contribute. Known for being quick, versatile and brilliantly effective at delivering on his brief, he was always much in demand. As result he reckoned to have drawn 5,400 pages’ worth of comic strips and illustrations by the time he retired in 2009.
Born in Brislington, Somerset, Brian was the son of Harry Walker, who ran a scale-making business, and his wife, Annie (nee Long), a teacher. In 1939 the family moved across the county to Simonsbath on Exmoor, where Brian went to Minehead school. He was first encouraged to pursue an artistic career by the renowned painter of horses, Sir Alfred Munnings, who lived nearby, and after completing a correspondence course for press artists he began to study art at the Royal West of England Academy in Bristol.
In 1944 his studies were interrupted when he was called up to serve in an RAF photo reconnaissance unit, but after the second world war he returned to Bristol, where in 1949 he gained diplomas in illustration and design. In the early 1950s, after a 2,000-mile cycling tour of Europe, he submitted illustrated articles of his travels to Cycling Weekly magazine, which led to commissions from Farmers Weekly and Punch. In 1952 he moved to, and restored, a cottage at Hinton Blewett in the Mendip Hills of Somerset, which became his home and studio for the rest of his life. Brian Walker reckoned to have drawn 5,400 pages’ worth of comic strips and illustrations across his career. In the 60s boys’ weekly comics still flourished, and they provided Brian with his bread and butter. Working initially for the DC Thompson publishing stable, he drew, among others, the Smasher strip in the Dandy (734 pages) and the I Spy strip in Sparky (228 pages), before moving on to Scream Inn for IPC’s Whoopee comic (556 pages). As technical and social changes shrank the comics market, he picked up his connection with the Countryman, which used him to illustrate its articles on rural issues and history, as well as short stories. Among the books that he illustrated were How To Be a Motorist and Stay Happy by George Haines, Landscape With Solitary Figure by Colin Willock, and A Countryman’s Lot by Max Hardcastle.

Brian kept working into his 80s, but finally stopped when the onset of Alzheimer’s in 2009 began to affect his memory.

A keen cyclist throughout his life, he had for many years played the tuba, which he had been taught by Acker Bilk, whom he had met when he had booked him to play a gig for the Stanton Drew Labour party in the 50s. Brian later played the tuba in Bilk’s Chew Valley Jazz Band across Somerset, as well as with the Wurzels singer Adge Cutler and, on occasion, with the Wurzels themselves. He also played sousaphone in amateur jazz groups around Bath and Bristol. In 1961 Brian married Rosemary Beer, a laboratory assistant. She survives him, along with his two daughters, me and Sarah, five grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

Wurzel Album Discography:

    Adge Cutler & The Wurzels (tuba)

page content by Paul Gunningham ©1999-2006, Frank Blades ©2007-2009 Edited and updated Jonathan Conibere ©2021