THE GREATEST SONGS OF THE 1960s THAT NO ONE HAS EVER HEARD
743) Wizz Jones — “Dazzling Stranger”
This dazzling folk song is “stunningly poignant” and “encapsulate[s] the combination of fragility and profundity that defined the best of the 1960’s singer-songwriters.” (Colin Harper, Dazzling Stranger: Bert Jansch and the British Folk and Blues Revival) Wizz calls it “one of my favourite Alan Tunbridge songs” (https://www.wizzjones.com/discography.html) and remembers that “It was on [The Legendary Me] that I persuaded Ralph McTell to guest on the Alan Tunbridge song ‘Dazzling Stranger’, which we recorded at Ron Geesin’s house. . . . I had expected Ralph to arrive at Ron’s house with his trusty Gibson guitar, instead of which he was sporting a recently acquired antique harmonium which imbued the track with a certain ecclesiastical atmosphere.” (https://www.wizzjones.com/disc_legend.html)
Thom Jurek gives us some history:
With its many leaves and branches, the English folk scene is traceable to a few gnarly yet enduring taproots. . . . [and] guitarist Wizz Jones is one of them. While virtually unknown in America . . . Jones was paramount in influencing virtually every acoustic guitarist and folk scenester who came after him in the U.K. Jones began to play guitar seriously in the mid- to late ’50s after being inspired by the literature of the Beat Generation, and American blues and folk recordings . . . . Jones bore a strange figure in British coffeehouses with his uncharacteristically long hair and hobo-ish demeanor, including a guitar that was literally held together with leather straps. He knew his stuff, however, with his playing rooted deep in the Mississippi Delta and in early Chicago blues styles, and he established a reputation early among younger players who soaked up both his image and the licks he fired off from a rapid right-handed picking style that was clearly his own. . . . Embracing the Beat life, he and Clive Palmer took to busking in the streets of France for a while . . . . Back in England, Jones met banjo king Pete Stanley in 1962 and formed a bluegrass duo that released a now legendary — and highly collectible — Columbia recording called Music for Moonshiners in early 1963. The duo issued one more recording for the label called Sixteen Tons of Bluegrass before disbanding in 1966. Beginning in 1968, Jones began recording a series of albums upon which his obscure, yet legendary, modern reputation was founded. Hanging with a bunch of locals and a loose-knit band he formed called Lazy Farmer, Jones issued nine albums between 1969 and 1977 . . . .https://www.allmusic.com/artist/wizz-jones-mn0000569646/biography
Raymond Ronald Jones . . . to a poor working class family in Croydon which was at that time a small town in the county of Surrey on the outskirts of South London. Attending Oval Primary and Junior School and later Selhurst Grammar School for boys where Jones felt well out of his depth amongst boys mainly from fairly well-off middle class professional families. Being constantly absent due to severe bouts of migraine and having to attend weekly physiotherapy exercises for a curvature of the spine he left school at the age of 16 in 1955 with meagre qualifications. Inspired by Folk and Blues music heard on BBC and European Radio, Jones began to teach himself to play the acoustic guitar. He worked for a year or so at a textile warehouse in the City of London and then at a similar establishment in the West End. On leaving home around this time he moved into a rented attic room in Porchester Square close by Marble Arch and soon discovered the delights of a bohemian life-style in Soho. . . . Wizz began his musical career at the age of 18 leading a Country and Skiffle band called “The Wranglers” in 1957. He had been inspired to take up the acoustic guitar a year or so before this after hearing such guitar luminaries as Big Bill Broonzy, Rambling Jack Elliot and Muddy Waters playing at a club in London organized by Cyril Davies and Alexis Korner . . . . Having learned most of his blues licks from Long John Baldry and Davy Graham whilst playing in the coffee bars of Soho, Wizz followed the time honoured trail – busking throughout Europe . . . . On returning to Britain in the early sixties, Wizz formed a blue-grass duo with banjo-picker Pete Stanley, a partnership which was to last for four years . . . . Wizz and Pete went their separate ways at the end of 1967 and Wizz returned to solo work collaborating with songwriter Alan Tunbridge (an artist friend from the Soho days) and occasionally with guitarist Peter Berryman. . . . [I]n spite of being often mentioned as an important early influence by artists such as Eric Clapton, John Renbourn and Ralph McTell . . . Wizz retained a certain “musician’s musician” reputation, only occasionally playing club gigs and the odd festival spot . . . . As Billy Connolly says . . . “My friend Wizz has had a somewhat wispy career – now you see him now you don’t!”.https://www.wizzjones.com/biog.html
“I met Roy Harper who had recently recorded his first album . . . for producer Pierre Tubbs. Pierre had told Roy that he was looking for artists with original material to record for Liberty and United Artists records. Roy’s retort had been “Pierre why don’t you record some ORIGINAL PEOPLE like Wizz Jones and Clive Palmer?” . . . So that was how I got to make my first solo LP.” (https://www.wizzjones.com/disc_wizzjones.html)
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