We are delighted and honoured that Paul Jones and Mike Vernon have both kindly agreed to be Patrons of the UK Blues Federation.
Having declined Brian Jones' invitation to join the fledgling Rolling Stones in 1962, Paul Jones accepted the very next offer, to be the original front-man with the group Manfred Mann. Whilst later known as a pop group they began as an R&B band, playing alongside Sonny Boy Williamson, Otis Spann, and Matt "Guitar" Murphy. Whilst with Manfred Mann, Paul was at the forefront of the 60s pop revolution, with million-selling records alongside the likes of The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and The Animals. In 1966 he turned to acting, first in films and TV, and then on stage. His films include Privilege and The Committee. His TV credits include Z Cars, Space 1999 and The Sweeney. In the 80s he hosted Weekend for Granada and A Plus 4 on Channel Four. More recently he starred in four series of the children's favourite, Uncle Jack. On stage he has performed for the Royal National Theatre and for the Royal Shakespeare Company. His numerous gold albums include one for the original recording of Evita.
Over the years, Paul's songs have been recorded by Ten Years After, Helen Shapiro, Al Kooper Carlos Santana and an early Steppenwolf. Paul was co-composer for the signature tune for TV’s ‘Ready, Steady, Go!’. He has also written for films, TV and commercials. As a harmonica man, he has performed and/or recorded with Memphis Slim, Alexis Korner, Henry Gray, Alvin "Youngblood" Hart, Susan Tedeschi, Eric Bibb, Otis Grand, Tina Turner, Percy Sledge, Memphis Slim, Katie Melua and The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. In 1979, he joined Dave Kelly and Tom McGuiness in founding The Blues Band, which helped kick start another boom in Blues music. Nowadays he also shares the lead with Mike D'Abo in The Manfreds along with most of the original members of Manfred Mann.
On radio, he worked for five years on the BBC's World Service, and has broadcast on all five BBC Radio networks as musician, DJ, actor, critic and Desert Island Discs castaway; he also contributed a set of questions to Mastermind. The list of guests on his programmes on BBC Radio 2 and Jazz FM is encyclopaedic, from Luther Allison to Axel Zwingenburger, and including B B King, Koko Taylor, Curtis Mayfield, Jimmy Witherspoon and scores more.
Paul was a BASCA (British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors) Gold Badge-winner in 1996. He is a Doctor of Music (University Of Portsmouth) and in 2001 received the famous red book from the TV show ‘This Is Your Life’. Paul is the President of The National Harmonica League and was awarded "Harmonica Player of the Year" in the British Blues Awards of 2010, 2011 and 2012 as well as Blues Broadcaster of the year and a Lifetime Achievement award in 2011. In the same year, the Blues Federation of America gave him a Keeping Blues Alive Award. In 2014 and 2015 #EuropeanBluesAwards awarded him the Best Blues Show Award for his BBC Radio 2 show.
What do Alexis Korner, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, Eric Clapton, Stevie Winwood, Spencer Davies, Jack Bruce, Rod Stewart, Ginger Baker, The Artwoods, Muddy Waters, Savoy Brown, Otis Spann, Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson, Larry Williams, Graham Bond, Ten Years After, Stan Webb, Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac, Champion Jack Dupree, Christine McVie, Mick Taylor, Eddie Boyd, Dr.Feelgood, Freddie King, Climax Blues Band, Roger Chapman, Cleo Laine, Jimmy Witherspoon, Level 42, Roachford, Sherman Robertson, The Hoax, Oli Brown, Keith Richards, Ron Wood and Bo Diddley all have in common? Well, all have, at one time or another, been involved in the making of records that have been produced by Mike Vernon.
Mike Vernon is probably best known as the founder of Britain’s #1 blues record label, Blue Horizon. During the four year period that Blue Horizon was distributed by CBS and Polydor, the label issued around 60 singles and more than 100 albums – most of them featuring blues artists. Although Mike is primarily associated with the blues, he also produced significant acts outside of that field during those early years – David Bowie; Dutch rock band Focus and a five-piece soul group from California, Bloodstone. His first single production for Bloodstone – ‘Natural High’ – hit the #1 spot on the US charts earning the Producer a Gold record. But there were other such Awards already on the wall – Bowie’s ‘Laughing Gnome’; Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Albatross’ and a number from his work with Focus.
In future decades, whilst continuing his crusade to record blues acts Mike Vernon worked with Level 42 and, in so doing, collected two further Silver discs. He also produced Andrew Roachford’s debut album – another Gold platter. Mike worked both as a Producer and Engineer throughout the 1980s and early 1990s with some further significant successes – especially in Europe. Albums by Spanish bands Danza Invisible and Los Secretos saw major chart success as did a Renaud Hansen release in France.
During the late 1990s Mike Vernon launched three new blues orientated labels – Indigo, Code Blue and Blueside. With Code Blue he produced Sherman Robertson, Jay Owens, Eric Bibb, John Primer and Bo Diddley (his album was nominated for a Grammy) whilst Eugene Bridges and Angela Brown were to appear on Blueside. In 2000 Mike retired and moved to Spain. But in 2010 Mike came out of retirement to produce both Dani Wilde and Oli Brown for Ruf Records and a ‘live’ set with Louisiana legend, Lazy Lester.
Mike has now released his own debut CD as a Rhythm & Blues singer fulfilling his passion for singing! He is touring as Mike Vernon & The Mighty Combo featuring handpicked musicians West Weston (vocal/harmonica); Martin Winning (tenor sax); Geraint Watkins (vocal/piano); Paul Garner (guitar); Ian Jennings (upright bass); Mike Hellier (drums).