The opening of the Ealing Blues Club by Alexis Korner and Cyril Davies on 17 March 1962 is generally regarded as the moment when British blues developed its own identity. For the first time, British musicians played the blues and were given an opportunity to see other British artists playing the music. Prior to this, the growing interest in the blues had been fostered by jazz musicians, notably Chris Barber who had brought some of the leading black American artists to the UK.
By the end of 1962, the Club opposite Ealing Broadway Station had overseen the creation of the Rolling Stones who’d been 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 the future bands that would later take the raw sound of blues-based around the world.
The Ealing Club and Blues Incorporated led directly to the British rhythm and blues boom, which created the more intense sounds that were to influence so many following The Beatles’ opening up of the US to the next wave of harder-sounding 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.
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 set in stone. Ealing resident Pete Townshend would develop feedback on his guitars at the first Who gigs at the Oldfield Hotel, Greenford. He practised his auto-destructive art on the Marshall speakers sourced locally from the first Marshall shop in Hanwell.
Townsend’s inspiration for the destruction of guitars and amplifiers came from art classes attended at Ealing Art School, where subsequent students would include Ronnie Wood and Freddie Mercury.
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.
The following quote from Keith Richards’ 2010 autobiography Life sums it up the signifcance of the Ealing Club:
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.– Keith Richards