The opening on 17 March 1962 of the Ealing Blues Club by Alexis Korner and Cyril Davies in March 1962, is generally regarded as the pivotal moment when British Blues developed its own identity. British musicians played the blues and were given an opportunity to see other British artists playing the music for the first time. Prior to this date the growing interest in the Blues had been fostered by Jazz musicians, such as Chris Barber who had brought some of the leading Black American artists to the U.K. for the first time.
By the end of 1962, the club had overseen the creation of the Rolling Stones who were brought together by Alexis Korner and played there over 20 times. Eric Clapton, Rod Stewart and Pete Townshend played Ealing, as did many other members of future bands that would later take the rawer sound of rock to the world.
The Ealing Club played its part in the invention of that very sound with the first live performance ever to use the classic ‘loud’ Marshall JTM45 guitar amplifier one Sunday night in 1963. The band assembled to test the pre-production amp included future Jimi Hendrix Experience drummer Mitch Mitchell — who worked in the Marshall shop in Hanwell, and saxophonist Terry Marshall, the ‘T’ in ‘JTM’.
The Ealing Cluband Blues Incorporated led directly to the early 1960s British rhythm and blues Boom, which created the more intense sounds that were to influence so many. This included the Beatles, who had already opened the gates in the US for the next wave of British bands. Groups such as the Rolling Stones, Cream, The Who, Manfred Mann, The Yardbirds, John Mayall, The Pretty Things, Fleetwood Mac, The Animals and Free, all participated or were heavily influenced by the scene generated by the Ealing Club. In 1973, David Bowie stated indicated he had been on the scene in those early days (see write up on Pin Ups)
British rhythm and blues would soon spread to other London venues notably the Crawdaddy, Eel Pie Island, The Flamingo and the Marquee. In Ealing the foundations for this movement were already established. Ealing resident Pete Townshend would develop feedback on his guitars at the first Who gigs at the Oldfield hotel (Greenford). He practiced his auto-destructive art on the Marshall speakers sourced locally in the first Marshall shop in Hanwell.
His inspiration for destruction of guitars and amplifiers came from art classes attended at Ealing Art School (now the Unversity of West London), where subsequent students would also include Ronnie Wood and Freddie Mercury. Gigs at this particular venue were a regular occurrence. In April 1969 there was a performance by David Bowie at the beginning of the most successful phase of his career. Later that year in the same UWL building Freddie Mercury made one of his first appearances as the frontman of a band.
As a showman and musician Jimi Hendrix would be deeply influenced by the music of The Who and their contemporaries, even deciding to purchase his amplifiers from the Marshall shop in Hanwell.
Perhaps the following quote from the Keith Richards biography “Life” from 2010 says it all:
“Cyril Davies and Alexis Korner got a club going, the weekly spot at the Ealing Jazz Club, where Rhythm and Blues freaks could conglomerate. Without them there might have been nothing”
The Ealing Club Community Interest Company has already organised three exhibitions in collaboration with Pitzhangar Manor Gallery & The Ealing Music and Film Festival. Marshall Amplification has also kindly participated helping ensure that the iconic brand developed in Hanwell (Ealing Borough) will continue its strong association with the area.