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).
Paul Jones and Mike Vernon photo courtesy Alan White
We are equally delighted that Chris Barber and John Mayall have come on board as Patrons of the British Blues Archive.
British jazz trombonist Chris Barber celebrates his 68th year as a bandleader in 2017. Inspired by the King Oliver Creole Jazz Band, Chris formed his first Barber New Orleans Band in 1949 at the age of nineteen. In 1953, along with Monty Sunshine and Lonnie Donegan, he joined forces with Ken Colyer. Then, with the replacement of Colyer by Pat Halcox, Ken Colyer's Jazzmen became Chris Barber's Jazz Band in 1954 and has been one of Europe's most successful traditional jazz bands ever since.
Over the years, Chris Barber's Jazz Band evolved into the Chris Barber Jazz and Blues Band, a richly-textured eight-piece group, blending brass, reeds, and electric guitar into a unique and unmistakable mix of blues and jazz. And despite being 'on the slide' since 1949, having performed over 10,000 concerts and made thousands of recordings, the Chris Barber Band keeps marching on, right into the 21st century, now as The BIG Chris Barber Band.
Chris Barber not only headed the extraordinary boom in the popularity of traditional Jazz within Britain and across Europe, but is also the man responsible for bringing some of the most legendary and influential U.S. Blues acts to UK and European concert halls. Many of these recordings have been lost for half a century. Chris Barber has recently traced the original live recordings from the 50s and 60s to present this eagerly anticipated collection. As co-founder of the famous Marquee Club in London and the Richmond Jazz and Blues Festival (later known as the Reading Festival), Chris and his partner Harold Pendleton played a large part in starting and furthering the careers of The Rolling Stones, The Who, Jimi Hendrix, The Yardbirds, Led Zeppelin, Alexis Korner and John Mayall ... to name but a few!
Often referred to as “The Godfather of British Blues,” John Mayall has an impressive musical career that spans over 50 years. The English blues singer, pianist, harmonica player, guitarist, and songwriter founded the band, John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers in the 1960’s—a band whose members included many celebrated blues and blues rock guitarists, such as: Eric Clapton, Peter Green, Jack Bruce, Mick Taylor, Walter Trout, Coco Montoya and Buddy Whittington.
In 1969 Mayall made his permanent move from England to Los Angeles and began forming bands with American musicians. Throughout the next three decades, Mayall became further revered for his many jazz/rock/blues innovations featuring such notable performers as Blue Mitchell, Red Holloway, Larry Taylor, and Harvey Mandel. Mayall’s popularity continued with a succession of dynamic albums including the Grammy-nominated “Wake Up Call” that featured guest artists Buddy Guy, Mavis Staples, Albert Collins and Mick Taylor.
In 2008 Mayall made the decision to permanently retire the Bluesbreakers name and in 2009 started a new era of touring with band members Rocky Athas, Jay Davenport and Greg Rzab. They toured together for over seven years, averaging about 100 shows a year, and are featured players on John’s last four albums including his latest “Talk About That.” John has also recently released a couple of never before heard live albums from 1967 featuring Peter Green, John McVie and Mick Fleetwood, which along with the new studio albums have been enthusiastically received by critics and fans alike.
In August 2016 circumstances compelled John, Greg and Jay to perform as a trio. The sound they came up with lent an amazing new slant to John’s music and he made the bold decision to permanently move to the trio format. They have now toured the US and Europe in this format getting very enthusiastic responses from audiences as they go! The road continues.