The 1960’s was the decade when British Blues came alive and shook the world. An excellent video on You Tube conveys some of that history and can be viewed here. This podcast, courtesy of Digital Blues, plays a shedload of the 60’s greats. Appropriately, it starts with The Animals version of The House of the Rising Sun, the first Blues song which inspired the founder of the British Blues Exhibition towards a love of this music.
Alexis Korner forms the band Blues Incorporated. considered the first amplified Rhythm and Blues band in Britain, and the new band gained a residency at the Marquee Club.
January 11th – The Klooks Kleek Club opens at the Railway Hotel, West Hampstead, North West London. Until it closed on 28th January 1970, the club hosted numerous Blues and Jazz acts including Zoot Money, Ten Years After, John Mayall, and Graham Bond, all of whom recorded live albums at the venue. The first Blues act to appear at the venue was Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames.
March 17th – Alexis Korner and Cyril Davies open the UK’s first dedicated electric Blues club, The Ealing Club, formerly the Ealing Jazz Club. Alexis, whose band Blues Incorporated played that night, is quoted as saying, “…there was only about 100 people in all of London that were into the blues and all of them showed up at the club that first night”.
April 7th – Brian Jones meets Mick Jagger and Keith Richards at The Ealing Club, and the core of what became The Rolling Stones is formed. Probably the most famous of all British Blues-inspired and playing acts, their first settled line-up was Brian Jones (guitar, harmonica), Ian Stewart (piano), Mick Jagger (vocals, harmonica), Keith Richards (guitar), Bill Wyman (bass) and Charlie Watts (drums). Mick Jagger and Keith Richards had been at Wentworth Primary School in Dartford together, but after going to separate schools they met again and went on to form the Rolling Stones. The band were named after a Muddy Waters track, Rollin’ Stone.
November – Alexis Korner’s Blues Incorporated release the album R & B from the Marquee. It has been called the first British Blues album, which is an arguable claim, but it makes it worth listing the line up on the album: Alexis Korner (acoustic guitar), Cyril Davies (vocals/harmonica), Dick Heckstall-Smith (tenor saxophone), Keith Scott (piano). Spike Healey (string bass), Graham Burbridge (drums), Long John Baldry (vocals), Teddy Wadmore (bass), and Big Jim Sullivan (vocal chorus and probably guitar).
The band The Pretty Things is formed. The initial line up was Dick Taylor (guitar), Phil May (vocals/harmonica), Brian Pendleton (rhythm guitar), John Stax (bass), and Pete Kitley (drums).
The Who became famous. Lead singer Roger Daltrey inspired by Howlin Wolf’s “primal scream”, and, like the rest of the band, by other Blues artists.
March 28th – Pirate Radio Station Radio Caroline made its first broadcast from the MV Caroline anchored off Felixstowe, having been founded by the manager of British Blues artist Georgie Fame. The station still broadcasts here and its latest ship, the Ross Revenge, is moored in an Essex estuary. This video makes interesting viewing, based on British Pathe footage – here.
December 5th – The Rolling Stones cover of Little Red Rooster (written by Willie Dixon) achieves number 1 in the British pop charts. A video is here.
8-track cartridge players began to available for use in cars and later as stand alone units for home use. Many Blues recordings found their way to 8 track, though the format became obsolete within a few years.
The band Savoy Brown is formed. The founder – and very soon reshuffled – line up was Kim Simmonds (guitar), John O’Leary (harmonica), Bryce Portius (vocals), Trevor Jeavons (keyboards), Ray Chappell (bass), and Leo Manning. The band went on to enjoy much success in the United States.
22nd July – The album Bluesbreakers John Mayall With Eric Clapton, also known as the ‘Beano’ album after the comic Eric is reading on the cover, is released. The album also marks Eric’s first studio recorded and published vocal, on Ramblin’ On My Mind.