My Mentor: Paul Jones On Alexis Korner

'Alexis never worried about egos, he just had a way of pushing people forward'
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As a Christian, I take the word mentor seriously. In the early Sixties, wherever Alexis Korner was, I was. He was the daddy of the blues in this country. The grandaddy was Chris Barber. When Lonnie Donegan went stratospheric with "Rock Island Line", Chris needed a replacement and got Alexis on guitar.

With Cyril Davies, that became the hub of Blues Incorporated in 1961/62. Everybody, Charlie Watts, Brian Jones, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, was there on a Saturday night at the Ealing Club. Alexis was legendarily generous to all of us. We were all about 20 and he was in his early thirties. We would cluster around the front of the stage and he would point to me or Mick and we'd get up and sing a couple of songs with him. Once he did that, you were his friend. A lot of people's careers in this country were helped by Alexis. I'm just indebted, completely.

Alexis taught me a lot of things, like how to treat musicians, how to run a band, never to be afraid to hire people better than you. Alexis never worried about egos, he just had a wonderful way of pushing people forward.

And then I started to get into radio in 1982 and he was ahead of me there and supportive too. He'd done a blues show on Radio One for years and he was doing one for the BBC World Service when I started there. He kept meticulous records of what he had played, the live guests; he had this big ledger. What a clever thing to do. I keep records too, but with computers.

He had such a fantastic voice, big and rich and warm, and his musical tastes were very close to mine. I absolutely loved his programmes. When Alexis died in 1984, I finished his series on the World Service. He'd already booked some of the session guests, like Ruby Turner.

Then, in 1986, Dave Shannon asked me to present a show for Radio 2. He also deserves some mentorship points.

Paul Jones is on tour with the Manfreds on the Maximum Rhythm 'n' Blues tour until 2 December. The Paul Jones Show is on Radio 2 Thursdays at 8pm

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