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Wizz Jones

S.R. After then, I think the first time your name starts to appear in print was a place called The Mojo Club?

W.J. Well, before I went away to Paris I was roughly on the folk scene, but only on the fringe – being long haired and beatnik like, I couldn’t get in anywhere. I met this guy called Neil Rock who was hanging around with Davy Graham and he said to come up to Leeds, the winter of ’57 I think it was. They paid my rail fare, so I hitched up and did this support gig to Steve Benbow at the Topic in Bradford – my first gig. But I wasn’t really on the scene. When I came back, I was playing at parties, and I met a guy who asked me to come and play at a place in Leatherhead called the Chuck Wagon, where Malcolm Price and his group were resident. That led to working there and other places. The Mojo was much further ahead, around ’62 – Alan Tunbridge and Mac McGann and myself were a bit frustrated with the clubs that were around and wanted somewhere to play.

Sandy Jones: Before that, the reason for not playing in clubs was that the ones that did exist wouldn’t allow you in with long hair!

S.R. Which clubs?

W.J. Oh, I don’t want to get into all that, that’s so irrelevant now. One was always the complete outcast, but that was fair enough – I was a young adolescent guy being silly. I don’t blame the hierarchy that was in control. But on the other hand, there was Cyril Davies’s wife at the Blues & Barrelhouse: it was 2/6 to get in, I was there every night of the year and she never ever made me pay. I don’t know why – presumably because I had long hair and added local colour to the place, this crazy guy. I saw Muddy Waters and Otis Spann there, sat at Cyril’s and Alexis’s feet forever. Two thirds of that audience are famous people now.

S.R. Where did Davy Graham come in?

W.J. Well, he was around before me. I saw him playing on the street, he was still at school, playing with Long John Baldry, about ’57. But there weren’t folk clubs then, just intervals in jazz clubs.

S.R. That Topic EP of Davy and Alexis with Angi on came out around 1962 and had quite a devastating effect all over the place. How did that effect you, having started out learning Jack Elliott and Broonzy style?

W.J. I met Davy when he’d come through his “Broonzy period” and was getting into a more free form style of playing, still very simple though. I was so knocked out that I started trying to play finger style – I learned a lot from watching Davy, he showed me quite a few things.

S.R. When did it become obvious that there was this whole school of guitar players coming up?

W.J. Not until Bert Jansch and John Renbourn came on the scene.

From Southern Rag 6, October 1980


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