Leeds, home of the Blues

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The Independent Online
BRITAIN is to get its first national museum of Blues music, a hall of fame dedicated to those who, as Mick Jagger's celebrated song puts it, will "not fade away".

The pounds 7m complex will accommodate a recording studio, concert hall, restaurant and archive, and will celebrate artists such as Alexis Korner, John Mayall and Eric Clapton, as well as Rod Stewart and the Rolling Stones, whose early work was heavily influenced by Blues music. There will also be archive material from the British concerts of American stars such as John Lee Hooker, BB King and Howling Wolf.

The man behind the planned museum is the former Manfred Mann vocalist Paul Jones, who now sings with the Blues Band and has presented a weekly Blues show on Radio 2 for the past 10 years.

"Some people in America see Britain as an outpost for Blues music," Jones said, "but if you look at people like John Mayall and Eric Clapton, they're important."

The museum is planned for 1998, to be paid for by private backers, with the possibility of Lottery funding. Jones and fellow Blues Band member Rob Townsend were persuaded to choose Leeds as the site of the museum by businessman and Blues enthusiast Nick Wayne.

Wayne, a former tour manager for the promoter Harvey Goldsmith, is convinced of the venue's potential: "Leeds is the most successful city in the UK at the moment. It's booming.

"An eating and drinking Blues bar with a concert venue for up to 400 punters and hands-on displays of Blues archives is a great idea. I am a Leedsophile and I think I can get things done."

Jones, with his Blues contacts, has already set about persuading stars to donate memorabilia such as guitars and tour notes, and there are plans to persuade private buyers to fund auction bids and lend their own purchases to the museum.

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