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Tim bio.pdf

Tim Jones’ introduction to the blues began with a Van (6).jpgrecord from the American Folk Blues Festival series. ‘I had volume 2, I think. I copied all T-Bone Walker’s riffs and then tried to play them with my uncle’s Jazz band when I went to visit them in Stoke. I also remember Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee, and Willie Dixon, of course.

‘One of the first shows I saw was at the Regent Street Poly. It was Freddie King with Chicken Shack supporting. I was sitting in the front row and as he came on he looked straight at me and gave me this great big grin and I was too shy to even smile back. He was amazing – such feeling in just three notes! Those were great times for me: Howlin’ Wolf, BB King, Fleetwood Mac, Albert King, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, Jimi Hendrix. But Freddie King was always my hero.’

During the late 1960s and ‘70s Tim played with various groups, moving out of blues and into rock, funk and reggae. ‘We had a single released in Germany on the Ariola label with the band Raw Energy. But the group I was most proud of around that time was Soft Touch. I felt we were on a crest of a wave, we could do no wrong it seemed - a big mistake: MCA Records offered us a deal which we turned down in favour of NEMS Records who released the single ‘It’s My Life’ and then immediately went bust, leaving us only with bouncing cheques. That was the end of it for me; I’d invested such a lot in that band. It felt like my last chance.’

In 1980 Tim was invited to join Dick Heckstall-Smith, Victor Brox, John O’Leary and Keith Tillman in The Famous Blues Blasters, playing mainly around London. With the addition a year later of Keef Hartley and Dave Moore, the band became Mainsqueeze (the name was suggested by Keef Hartley at the first rehearsal with him) and almost simultaneously Tim was replaced by Eric Bell. But a couple of years later Tim was back with a pared down version of the band, touring Europe and Scandinavia. ‘This was a good time for me. I got to play in a band with the people I’d admired and learnt from as a youngster. I also performed with artists such as James Cotton and Alexis Korner.’

In 1986 Tim toured Europe and Scandinavia with Bo Diddley. ‘The first date was extremely nerve wracking. We drove up from London to somewhere like Sheffield together. I don’t think I spoke a word. And then the only rehearsal was the sound check. He played in open tuning, so you just had to watch his left hand from behind to guess the key. But it was great, he was a wonderful showman. I remember we called into my house on the day before playing Dingwalls in Camden. We sat in the front room having tea and biscuits and his hands were so big he couldn’t reach into the biscuit barrel; he had to tip them out. I was sorry when that tour ended.’

During the 1990s Tim teamed up with John O´Leary and Dick Heckstall-Smith again, playing occasional gigs together. The outcome of this resulted in the beginnings of John O’Leary’s Sugarcane, as it was called then. ‘John was keen to put a serious band together again. It started out with the two of us getting together and writing songs. We weren’t sure where it was going at first (I’d even considered an acoustic set up) but, after going through a number of incarnations, it developed into a full electric band. And then… I don’t know what happened; it’s all very hazy in my memory. It all seemed to fizzle out - for me anyway. I ended up so sick of everything, not just music, that I sold all my gear: my ’68 Goldtop, a couple of Fender amps and a Wallace amp that I’d had since I was 16. It was like losing your baby when I left the guitar at the shop. But I just wanted no more of it.’

Tim moved to Spain in 2002 and didn’t return to playing until 11 years later. ‘I went to a blues jam at the Jazz Café in Córdoba and I loved it. For about three days after, I was on a high. I never realized how much I’d buried my love of performing. So that was it!’ He began working with some excellent Spanish musicians in an acoustic trio and an electric band by the name of After The Rain. ‘But I decided it was time to move back to England. I think you have to be based here or the US to be taken seriously in the blues world.’