Paul still getting back to the roots with blues

50 years ago next year, there was an explosion that changed musician and broadcaster Paul Jones’ life - the blues explosion.

“The blues hit us over here in Britain in 1962,” recalls Paul who’s still living that blues dream, on a never-ending tour with the hugely-successful Blues Band (Martlets Hall, Burgess Hill, Thursday, February 10).

“The theory has been advanced that one of the things that was very significant was that the explosion of rock ‘n’ roll had become completely watered down,” Paul says. “Tin Pan Alley had got hold it of it and prettified it and filleted it. We were now getting soppy, soft versions of rock and roll.

“The blues was a way to get back to the roots. This was a way back to the hard stuff. It was the reality, the assertiveness, the no-taking-prisoners quality of the music. It was uncompromisingly real. It seemed to bypass the fact that it seemed to come from a different culture and it just went straight for the gut.

“Your heart received the music even if your brain didn’t necessarily understand it. It sounded a bit alien, but you could grasp enough. It was exciting that your parents didn’t want you to listen to it!”

Inevitably a British blues started to emerge - by default.

“We anglicised it pretty quickly by not being able to do it authentically. The British contribution to the blues was that we could not really sound like the real thing. But there were a few people that got pretty close, Steve Winwood, Chris Farlowe and later Joe Cocker.

“But that’s how music works. You do your own thing. You get something that comes from somewhere else, and you can’t sound like the source, so you do it slightly differently. People at the source hear it and start liking it and it goes around in a circle.

“I had a chap on my radio programme one time from America and he said he had got into terrible trouble saying that it was great to be back in London, the home of the blues. What he was saying was that the blues has a home in London, exactly in the same way that it does in Atlanta, Georgia.

“The interaction is for real, though. I spoke to a black American once who said he had been influenced by me!”