Life on the Fretboard: Wizz Jones

Bruce Springsteen and Thurston Moore adore his work and rightly so…Wizz Jones is a lynchpin of the UK folk blues guitar scene and has been since the early 1960s. When London was an epicenter for artists from the USA such as Big Bill Broonzy, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee, Paul Simon, James Taylor, Jackson C. Frank, and Bob Dylan – Wizz was right there.

Wizz was also there to hear some of the first notes Davey Graham played in DADGAD tuning, to witness the impact of a young Bert Jansch on the UK guitar scene, and to run sessions at the legendary Les Cousins club in Soho’s Greek Street. It’s not there anymore, of course. That end of Soho is now a preponderance of private members clubs and bijoux eateries but back in the day things were a lot less salubrious and, judging from how Wizz tells it, a hell of a lot more fun.

Wizz talks about the early days of his life on the fretboard: When he was a young bohemian, the influence of Jack Kerouac on his generation, London’s Soho in the sixties when you could bump into everyone from Cat Stevens to Quentin Crisp, his travels around Morocco and France, and offers the benefit of his experience and wisdom with one important caveat.

Now in his 80s, Wizz can still be seen playing around London with his trademark 1963 Epiphone Texan. I caught up with him at RMS recording studios in London where Wizz has made several albums in the past. He was in characteristically fine form (the conversation is somewhat peppered with adult language). To my everlasting disgrace, I may have joined in too. But that can happen when you’re hanging out with the cool kids.

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