Sir Tom Jones needs no introduction. As one of the most successful British male solo singers ever, his contribution to rock and pop began in 1963, fronting a band from South Wales named Tommy Scott and the Senators. By 1964 he would be playing clubs in London having recorded songs with producer Joe Meek. His vocal talent has allowed him to dabble in just about every style be it pop, rock, show tunes, country, dance, soul, gospel and of course the Blues.
In the past Tom Jones has recorded tracks by Blues artists such as Howlin Wolf and his latest album, Spirit in the Room….. includes Blind Willie Johnson’s Soul of a Man. Whispering Bob Harris recently interviewed Tom Jones on his BBC radio show. They discussed the impact that British bands from the early sixties had in helping raising awareness amongst American audiences of their Black American Blues Culture.
They even discussed Alexis Korner and the Ealing Club did get a mention. Tom Jones highlighted how he used to play regularly to the same audiences as Alexis at the Beat Club in London, back in 1964. However, he didn’t get a decent chance to recall any gigs at the Ealing Club, a venue which we think he played on one occasion, perhaps in 1963 or 64.
In the past year, veteran fans have already recalled attending John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers gigs at the Club and we have confirmed that Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee also played Ealing Town Hall introducing their “negro folk Blues” as it was known to the local West London audience. It would be great to find other fans that had a chance to see Tom Jones and other artists including Champion Jack Dupree, Georgie Fame and Sonny and Cher who we also believe played at the Ealing Club, between 1963-65.
For more blues with Tom Jones the Martin Scorcese series “The Blues” features a film directed by Mike Figgis titled Red, White and Blues. Many great mellow performances by Tom Jones, Van Morrison and Lulu accompanied by Jeff Beck (who played Ealing with The Tridents).
(Is that Andy Summers pictured above (Zoot Money Band and The Police) standing at the door of The Flamingo Club in London? ……we don’t know)
For some, the film Red, White and Blues does fall short in defining the essence of what was British Rhythm and Blues in 1962 – 65 and why it became so popular in West London. The film does not highlight the British Rhythm and Blues boom’s lasting contribution to electric guitar music and rock music. For instance, Pete Townshend who was a regular Ealing Club visitor conceived “My Generation”as a blues song.
The legacy of Cyril Davies and Alexis Korner in introducing amplified electric guitar blues and helping bring together bands that would eventually bring their own songs onto the scene is something that could be highlighted by any future documentary makers.
The Martin Scorcese/Mike Figgis film does contain one interesting comment from Eric Clapton that reads as follows:
“The first English guy I saw play electric guitar was Alexis Korner, he played a Kay, so I bought a Kay”