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Wizz Jones

Pete Stanley & Wizz Jones, mid-60s
Pete Stanley & Wizz Jones, mid-60s
S.R. John mentions you on the sleeve of his first album.

W.J. I first saw John at Addlestone, doing a floor spot with another guy, doing all of Davy’s repertoire, note for note, brilliantly. He used to come to a lot of my gigs around South London, that’s how we knew each other. He got his recording contract about the same time as Bert; he gave me a plug because he did that National Seven song he got from me.

S.R. By that time you were very well established as a duo with Pete Stanley.

W.J. When I look back on that period, we were very popular. If there’d been a system like there is now, managers and agents… When I listen to old tapes, we were actually quite good! We were very entertaining, and slogged around the clubs together for four years.

S.R. You’d have been one of the regular guests at most of the clubs in the Southern Rag area in those days – you and Diz Disley and Malcolm Price.

W.J. We did 50,000 miles in one year in that old VW bus.

S.R. How did your first records come about?

W.J. That was weird; we met Chas McDevitt who, in a way, was somebody you’d look up to because he was famous along with Wally Whyton and all those people. You didn’t particularly think they were brilliant musicians, but there’s nothing that impresses more than success – you couldn’t help but be excited if Chas McDevitt came to your gig. He was getting into independent production and had an “in” at EMI. We did a single of Dylan’s Hollis Brown, or perhaps the album first, I can’t remember which. We did it in a couple of mornings in a 2-track demo studio.

S.R. Was there any connection with the Mick Softley album around the same time?

W.J. No – though Hemel Hempstead was one of our stamping grounds. Maddy Prior used to sing in a club with Mick Softley and another guy; Derek Brimstone used to be in the audience – a place called the Spinning Wheel. Mick used to play in a pub there as well, and Donovan was at school and used to come and see Mick in the evenings and through Mick got to know me. When he got well known, he got Mick this deal on whatever label he was on.

S.R. Were big labels more interested in folk then, as there was a lot happening?

W.J. Especially when Bert and John came along, that swung it.

From Southern Rag 6, October 1980


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