born on 25/4/1939 in Croydon, Greater London, England, United Kingdom
Raymond Ronald Jones (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 English folk music 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 in Paris he married and returned to England 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.
The folk period
Jones started to become a singer-songwriter. His first solo album was Wizz Jones in 1969. Up to 1988, ten solo albums followed and he played on Ralph McTells single "Easy" in 1974. In a way McTell was repaying Jones for his help in getting him established on the scene. Steve Tilston was also guided by Jones, through the easy stages of his career. Jones was once described as having 'a right hand worthy of Broonzy', the Broonzy in question is of course legendary Country Blues Guitarist Big Bill Broonzy. Most of his recordings from this period are long out of print.
A 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 mid1970s, 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".
- Wizz Jones (1969)
- The Legendary Me (1970)
- Right Now (*) (1972)
- Winter Song (E.P.) (1973)
- When I Leave Berlin (**) (1973)
- Soloflight (***) (1974)
- Lazy Farmer (1975)
- Happiness Was Free (1976)
- Magical Flight (1977)
- Letter from West Germany (197?)
- The Grapes of Life (1987)
- Live In Dublin (cassette tape only, 1991)
- Late Nights and Long Days (****) (1993)
- Dazzling Stranger (1995)
- Through the Fingers (2001)
- Lucky The Man (2001)
- Young Fashioned Ways (****) (2004)
- When I Leave Berlin: Expanded Edition (**) (2007)
- Lucky the Man (Extra tracks) (2007)
- More Late Nights and Long Days (****) (circa 2008)
(*) with John Renbourn, Sue Draheim, and others. (**) with Bert Jansch. (***) includes recordings from 197074. (****) with Simeon Jones.
Collaborations and compilations
Pete Stanley and Wizz Jones
- Sixteen Tons of Bluegrass (1966) (issued in Italy as 'Way Out West')
- More Than Sixteen Tons of Bluegrass and Other Fine Stuff (2000) (re-issue of above on CD with additional, previously unissued, tracks)
Lazy Farmer (including Wizz Jones)
- Lazy Farmer (1975)
Wizz Jones and Werner Lämmerhirt
- Roll On River (1981)
Anthology Alex Campbell, Andy Irvine, Wizz Jones, Finbar Furey, Dolores Keane et al.
- Folk Friends (1979)
- Folk Friends 2 (1981)
- The Village Thing Tapes (1992)
- The Ballad of Hollis Brown / Riff Minor (1965)
Video and DVD
- Masters of the British Guitar (VHS) (1998)
- Wizz Jones Maestros of the Guitar No 1 (2006)
- Ralph McTell: "Easy" (1974)
- Derroll Adams "Songs of the Banjoman" (1984)
- Clive Palmer "Clive Palmer's Banjoland" (recorded 1967, released 2007)
- Jurek, Thom. [Wizz Jones at All Music Guide Wizz Jones: Biography]. Allmusic. Retrieved on 15 January 2011.
- Wizz Jones' website
- Wizz Jones on YouTube
- Extensive discography including session work, Rockinworld
- Informative biographic note, interview and archive photo on Terrascope (author uncredited)