Fisherman's Friends
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Fisherman's Friends

Fisherman's Friends
Fishermens friends.JPG
Fisherman's Friends performing at Port Isaac
Background information
OriginPort Isaac, Cornwall, UK
GenresSea shanties, Folk
LabelsUniversal Music
MembersJohn Brown
Jeremy Brown
John Lethbridge
Billy Hawkins
Jason Nicholas
John McDonnell
Jon Cleave
Toby Lobb
Trevor Grills
Nigel Sherratt
Peter Rowe
Julian Brown

Fisherman's Friends are a male singing group from Port Isaac, Cornwall, who sing sea shanties.[1] They have been performing locally since 1995, and signed a record deal with Universal Music in March 2010. Whilst essentially an a cappella group, their studio recordings and live performances now often include traditional simple instrumentation.


Fisherman's Friends are a shanty group based in North Cornwall. Their performances combine traditional songs of the sea with more contemporary folk music and a large dash of humour.

The members are: John & Jeremy Brown (brothers), John Lethbridge, Billy Hawkins, Jason Nicholas, Toby Lobb, John McDonnell and Jon Cleave.

In June 2014 Peter Rowe was the oldest member, at the age of 80.

In the original line-up, all of the members of the group "grew up within half a mile of Port Isaac harbour" except for John McDonnell who is a Yorkshireman. Three were fishermen, and the others are linked to the sea through service as coastguards or lifeboatmen.

Jon Cleave is one of the MCs of the group and also the author/illustrator of the children's book series Gully[2] as well as the full length, humorous novel Nasty Pasty.[3]

They sing the chorus on Show of Hands' popular song Cousin Jack on Show of Hands' "best of" CD "Roots", as well as on the title track.


Their repertoire is extremely varied and includes both shanties and other nautical songs, some of which are fairly lewd.[4] With the addition of Jason & Toby (accordion and guitar) the group have added more musical accompaniment to their set. Billy and Toby are both supported by Vintage Guitars and regularly use their instruments on stage.


They performed at the 2010 Cornbury music festival in Oxfordshire,[5] the Glastonbury Festival on several occasions, typically on the Acoustic Stage, but on one occasion performing on the Pyramid Stage and the Cambridge Folk Festival.[6] The band have also appeared at Towersey Festival, Wickham Festival, Beautiful days, Costa Del Folk, Shrewsbury Folk Festival, Tunes in the Dunes, Boardmasters and Celtic Connections. Due to being "semi-professional" the band do not tour extensively and will usually embark on 12-15 date tours in November and February/March. They also often perform in Port Isaac, regularly singing on the beach in the Summer Holidays.


The group had released three CDs themselves before signing with Universal. In 2002, under the name Port Isaac's 'Fishermen's Friends', they recorded an album, primarily to raise funds for the RNLI, which was released on the Clovelly Label, Catalogue Number CLCD12702. The album, entitled Fishermen's Friends Are Home from the Sea, has 20 tracks and was recorded in St Peter's Church Port Isaac on the 26 and 27 April 2002. All the tracks are sung in the traditional a cappella style. The album was engineered by Bob Whitney and produced by John Perkins. Their first album with Universal, Port Isaac's Fisherman's Friends, was recorded in St Kew Parish Church, Cornwall,[7] and released in April 2010.[6]

In 2010 they re-recorded their single, "No Hopers, Jokers or Rogues", with new lyrics, in support of England's World Cup campaign in South Africa.[8]

A second album with Universal, One and All, was released on 26 August 2013.[9] The single "Mary Anne", taken from the album, was released on 25 June 2013.[10]

In July 2015, the album Proper Job was released on the Sony Music label, in association with the St Austell Brewery, who brew a beer of the same name. This album also saw the first appearance of new member Toby Lobb.[11]

2018 saw the release of 'Sole Mates', an album produced by Giles Woolley and band member Toby Lobb. The band's aim was to celebrate their history and create a simpler album that represented their live sound more accurately. 'Sole Mates' was made up of tracks that the band had performed during their previous two tours and featured additional instrumentation from Phil Beer from Show of Hands and Emma Murfin from Cornwall-based folk act Black Velvet.


Gareth Malone's documentary on sea shanties, shown in May 2010 on BBC 4, included a contribution from the group.[12] The Fisherman's Friends have also starred in an advert for fish company, Young's.

The band have appeared on BBC One's 'The One Show' on two occasions, been the subject of an ITV1 documentary that charted their early success, a SKY ARTS documentary which featured their performance at the Celtic Connections festival, BBC's Countryfile with John Craven and many local news items. 2018 will also see them feature in the Songs of Praise Christmas Special.


At the 2011 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards Fisherman's Friends received The Good Tradition Award for keeping folk music alive and bringing it to new audiences.[13]

Guildford incident

On 9 February 2013 a heavy steel door fell while the G Live venue in Guildford was being prepared for a Fisherman's Friends show, killing their tour manager Paul McMullen. Singer Trevor Grills suffered serious head injuries,[14] and died in hospital two days later.[15][16]



Album Title Album details Chart positions Certification
Suck'em and Sea
  • Released: 2000
  • Label: Marine Records
Another Mouthful From ... The Fisherman's Friends
  • Released: 2009
  • Label: Marine Records
Port Isaac's Fisherman's Friends 9[17]
One and All
  • Released: 26 August 2013
  • Label: Universal Island
Proper Job
Sole Mates
  • Released: 20 April 2018[19]
  • Label: Cod and Chips

"Home From the Sea", released 2002 on Clovelly record label CLCD12702.


  • 2006: Show of Hands - "Roots" (Fisherman's Friends sing the chorus)
  • 2013: "Mary Anne"


  1. ^ Sinclair, Lulu (18 March 2010). "Fisherman's Friends Net Catchy Album Deal". Sky News. Retrieved .
  2. ^ "Gully the Seagull Children's Story Books | Port Isaac Cornwall | Home Page". Retrieved .
  3. ^ "Nasty Pasty the first novel by Jon Cleave from The Fisherman's Friends". Retrieved .
  4. ^ Williams, Murphy (29 April 2010). "When the boat came in". The Telegraph. London. Retrieved .
  5. ^ Parkinson, Ben (23 April 2010). "Fisherman's Friends for Cornbury Festival". Virtual Festivals. Retrieved .
  6. ^ a b Gifford, Ralph (7 February 2011). "Ship comes in at last for Cornish folk singers". The Independent. London. Retrieved .
  7. ^ "Cornwall singers win deal to make album of sea shanties". BBC News. 18 March 2010. Retrieved .
  8. ^ "Back of the fishing net as Fisherman's Friends record World Cup single". West Briton. 2010-06-10. Retrieved .
  9. ^ Battersby, Matilda (25 June 2013). "The Fisherman's Friends dedicate new album One and All to tenor Trevor Grills who died in freak accident". The Independent. London.
  10. ^ "Fisherman's Friends release Trevor Grills memorial single". BBC News. 25 June 2013.
  11. ^ Butler, Jackie (9 July 2015). "Fisherman's Friends new album is a Proper Job". Cornish Guardian. Retrieved 2016.
  12. ^ "Sea Shanties and Sea Songs with Gareth Malone". BBC. Retrieved 2010.
  13. ^ "Donovan 'fired-up' by Lifetime Achievement Award". The Telegraph. London. 8 February 2001. Retrieved . Shanty singers Fisherman's Friends were rewarded for keeping folk music alive and bringing it to new audiences with an honorary prize, the Good Tradition award [at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards].
  14. ^ "Fisherman's Friends tour manager dies in G Live accident". BBC. 10 February 2013. Retrieved 2013.
  15. ^ "Comments". 2013-02-12. Retrieved .
  16. ^ "Fisherman's Friends' Trevor Grills dies after G Live accident - BBC News". Retrieved .
  17. ^ a b "Official Charts Company". Fisherman's Friends chart history
  18. ^ "Certified Awards Search". BPI. Archived from the original on 17 January 2010. Retrieved . PORT ISAAC'S FISHERMAN'S - PORT ISAAC'S FISHERMAN'S FRIENDS : Gold Certification (Album) Friday, 7 January 2011 : UNIVERSAL MUSIC (UNIVERSAL) : Released Monday, 26 April 2010 (Search required)
  19. ^ "Sole Mates by Fisherman's Friends". iTunes Store (GB). Retrieved 2018.

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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