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Wizz Jones at the Norwich Folk Festival, U.K., 1978
|Raymond Ronald Jones|
|Born||25 April 1939|
|Origin||Thornton Heath, Croydon, Surrey, England|
Raymond Ronald Jones (born 25 April 1939, Thornton Heath, Croydon, Surrey), better-known as Wizz Jones, is an English acoustic guitarist, singer and songwriter. He has been performing since the late 1950s and recording from 1965 to the present. He has worked with many of the notable guitarists of the British folk revival, such as John Renbourn and Bert Jansch.
Jones became infatuated with the bohemian image of Woody Guthrie and Jack Kerouac and grew his hair long. His mother had started calling him Wizzy after the Beano comic strip character "Wizzy the Wuz" because at the age of nine Raymond was a budding musician. The nickname stuck throughout his school years and when he formed his first band, "The Wranglers", in 1957 the name became permanent. Bert Jansch later said, "I think he's the most underrated guitarist ever." In the early 1960s he went busking in Paris, France, and there mixed in an artistic circle that included Rod Stewart, Alex Campbell, Clive Palmer (Incredible String Band) and Ralph McTell. After a couple of years travelling throughout Europe and North Africa he returned to England and married his longtime girlfriend Sandy to raise a family.
In 1965, his only single was released: Bob Dylan's "Ballad of Hollis Brown". By this time the skiffle boom was over but one of the stars of that movement, Chas McDevitt, used Jones' guitar-playing on five albums in 1965 and 1966. Another musician on those sessions was the bluegrass banjo-player, Pete Stanley. In 1966, Jones and Stanley released an album, Sixteen Tons of Bluegrass, but this partnership broke down in 1967, as Jones then turned solo.
Jones started to become a singer-songwriter. His first solo album was Wizz Jones in 1969. Eight of the songs were written by his long-time friend Alan Tunbridge, who also designed the sleeve artwork. Up to 1988, ten solo albums followed and he played on Ralph McTell's single "Easy" in 1974. Steve Tilston was also guided by Jones, through the early stages of his career. Jones was once described as having 'a right hand worthy of Broonzy', referring to the Blues Guitarist Big Bill Broonzy. Most of his recordings from this period are long out of print.
He briefly joined acoustic folk-rock group Accolade (other band members Don Partridge, Brian Cresswell and Malcolm Poole) in 1971 as lead guitarist, and is featured on the group's second album Accolade II. Another brief excursion, as a member of the traditional folk band Lazy Farmer in 1975, produced an album that was reissued in 2006. Jones has always maintained a high level of popularity in Germany, since the mid-1970s, and he stills tours mainland Europe every year. The early 1990s were a quiet period. He almost disappeared from public view.
When in the mid-1990s he appeared on the Bert Jansch television documentary Acoustic Routes, there was renewed interest in his work. In 2001, he led John Renbourn and other members of Pentangle on the album Lucky The Man. In 2007, The Legendary Me and When I Leave Berlin were reissued on CD by the Sunbeam record label.
On 30 May 2012, Bruce Springsteen opened the sold-out Wrecking Ball concert at Olympic Stadium in Berlin, Germany, with Jones's song, "When I Leave Berlin".