Alexis Korner Profile:
Born: April 19, 1928 in Paris, France
Died: January 1, 1984 in London, England
Known as the "Father of British Blues," musician and bandleader Alexis Korner was an integral part of England's early-1960s blues scene. Korner's Blues, Incorporated band helped popularize blues music, and during the early part of the decade, Korner performed with a long list of British music royalty. Korner never experienced the overwhelming commercial success enjoyed by some of his peers and younger acolytes, but his influence on the development of blues-rock is undeniable.
Korner fell in love with the blues as a child, his family immigrating to England in 1940 during the war. Korner learned to play the piano and, later, the guitar, joining Chris Barber's Jazz Band in 1949. During this time he met Cyril Davies, a guitarist and fellow blues fan, and the two began performing as a duo. The pair recorded their first record in 1957, and in 1962 they formed the band Blues, Incorporated.
Blues, Incorporated featured a revolving line-up that included some of the best musicians in England at the time, future stars like bassist Jack Bruce and drummer Charlie Watts. The band's shows attracted blues enthusiasts from across the country, and talents like Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Brian Jones, and Steve Marriott, among others, would sit in with the band. Blues, Incorporated recorded a single album, R&B From The Marquee, after which Davies quit over Korner's decision to add horns to the band.
Father of British Blues
Through the 1960s, Korner carried on with various line-ups, but he soon saw his old-school style of the blues eclipsed by the commercially-successful blues-rock formula of the Rolling Stones, the Yardbirds, and others. Blues, Incorporated was disbanded in 1966.
Korner continued to play and record music throughout the 1970s and into the '80s, scoring a minor hit with a cover of Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love" in 1970 with his studio ensemble C.C.S. Korner also dabbled in music journalism and radio broadcasting at this time. Forming Rocket 88 with Jack Bruce and Charlie Watts, Korner's last band released a self-titled album in 1981. Korner died of lung cancer in 1984.
Recommended Albums: Korner's early stuff, especially Blues, Inc. material, is hard to come by. The excellent anthology Musically Rich...and Famous provides an overview of Korner's career from 1967-1982 and includes lots of famous guest stars.