One small moment can change it all… For Paul, it was when he listened to Aaron ‘T-Bone’ Walker
Paul Pond was 18 years old and had his entire future planned. Paul Pond, a former chorister who came from an upstanding middle-class background, was attending Jesuit College to study English. He hoped to be a poet and was studying English until the day that he heard the recording that would change his life.
Paul, who is 79 years old, says that he had completed one term at Oxford before returning to Plymouth. His father, who was in the navy, was stationed there. Pete Russell’s Hot Record Store was a store I discovered. There, I would go and listen to music for hours. Pete asked me one Saturday, “You like blues. What do you think about this ?’…”?”
T-Bone Blues was composed by Aaron “T-Bone” Walker, a brilliant American black guitarist who is credited for inventing the electric blues. Paul recalls, tearful and nostalgic: “It was amazing.” Blues played with an electric guitar, with socking strong backbeats. There were trumpets and saxophones making stabs. It was powerful. This was different from the music that I listened to at home. Ivor Novello was a favorite of my parents.
The face of a poet turned musician
This was direct and honest – exactly what you need as a teenager. This was the day that I made my decision about what I wanted to do with my life .”
Paul Jones was born after the world lost its poet.
Spotted… Paul pointing at himself alongside a number of big, big names
Paul, a Portsmouth native, wasn’t captivated by blues. He recalls that his mother was a great pianist and her father played the violin well, but jazz is the music that first gave him goosebumps. I was fourteen when King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band played songs such as Mabel’s Dream. It was amazing. It was amazing. I still can hum it.
Paul, a 19-year old boy from West London began to hitchhike to The Ealing Jazz Club after Brian Jones, his guitarist, told him about Alexis Korner’s Blues Incorporated. Alexis Korner was a Saturday player.
He says, “It was tiny but kind of cavernous with lots of small spaces inside.” I can still remember the smell of sweat and condensation. It was not ventilated. Drummers had to deal with problems because their drum heads would sag.
Brian lived in Cheltenham, while I was in Oxford as a traveling salesman. My flat was his home for weekends, and he’d go to a party or gig span>.
Paul started a band named Thunder Odin’s Big Secret – the name was inspired by Lightning Hopkins, a Texan guitarist who recorded with a drummer known as Thunder. “Thunder and lightning gave birth to Odin.” (Thor?
Paul was a gifted guitarist and his wife wanted him to get married. Paul then asked Brian to come along.
He said that he didn’t want me to lead a band …’.. Brian called me shortly after and told me, March 1962: “I am starting a band and taking it serious; I’m going very rich and very popular – would you like to be my singing voice?”
“I didn’t say no because I was working, so I auditioned for the Adelphi dance group, which had many jazz musicians that couldn’t earn a living doing jazz.
If he had only listened to his friend… Brian Jones, already as a Rolling Stone
I didn’t believe Brian’s band would succeed. It was just a pipe dream to me.”
It was a smart move. It’s hard to know what happened to the bizarre combination Brian made with Wyman, Wyman and Jagger (R.I.P span>
Paul had an impression in Ealing. I was always at the front, looking up expectantly to the bandleader. He’d either call me or Mick Jagger and ask me to come up to the stage.
Manfred Mann, a South African keyboardist, was trying to put together a band. Paul received a call saying that “we need a shouter .”
Manfred Mann and The Manfreds were formed in 1962. Soon after, they became Manfred Mann. Their first hit was in 1964 with 5-4-3-2-1, their third single. This song served as the theme for ITV’s Ready Steady Go. We were instant successes thanks to our years of experience.
Do Wah Diddy was a top-selling artist in America and here, but they never achieved American success. We toured the country in 1965 but did not set the world on fire. We weren’t with the right person, I think. I did make friends with Peter & Gordon.”
Ready Steady Go!
Manfred Mann was not exactly Rock’n’roll Babylon when he went on tour with him. It wasn’t crazy. Our humour was based on in-joke catchphrases.
It was 1965 when Australia was toured. When we arrived, Roy Orbison was already touring with the Rolling Stones. Fans screamed, “That was it!” and then threw toys onto the stage. The girls were encouraged to get barmy. Security became more and more irritated. They finally turned off the power. It was great that we could go to see the Stones …”.
Brian’s band was not going to make a lot of money, I thought. It was just a pipe dream to me.
Paul was exhausted by another Australian tour with The Who, and Small Faces. It was crazy. It was really crazy.
Jones resigned in 1965, but he had to remain on the job for nine more months. They wouldn’t allow me to go! They mentioned law suits, but after they calmed down they asked me to remain until they found a substitute” – which was Mike d’Abo.
Mann never saw him again. For a laugh, the group convinced Mann that their driver was drunk. Manfred ran behind the van and shouted, “You’ll all die !’.”,” as his last sighting.
Fans called the singer Manfred for years.
Paul had married Sheila MacLeod, a novelist, in 1963. He had some solo hits but found success as an actor on the stage and screen. In 1999, he appeared in The Sweeney and Space: 1999. Jean Shrimpton was also in Privilege, a 1967 cult movie.
He was asked by a theatre director to perform two plays in one act. Conduct Unbecoming ran here for one year, then he moved to New York and starred in Escalator Over The Hill jazz opera with Jack Bruce.
Although I enjoyed acting, it was something that made me miss live music. When the curtain went down at home, I would go to a bar where there were musicians playing. The blues .”
He formed the Blues Band in 1979 and then joined the Manfreds, with the exception of Mann, who had formed Earth Band.
A lot has changed since Paul’s Manfred Mann days – but gigs are still his thing
Paul is the father of two sons, both grown up from his first marriage. He also married Fiona Hendley Jones. He was once an atheist and converted to Christianity after Cliff Richard invited Paul to attend an evangelical event. However, his faith in rhythm & Blues has not diminished. For three decades, Radio 2 hosted the blues program.
He fought alongside George Melly’s spouse Diana in opposition to the Conservatives at Hampstead 1964 but has retreated from politics.
Paul’s youthful appearance is due to his clean, healthy lifestyle. He insists that it’s not boring. He says, “I haven’t stopped drinking. I drink less of it, with the exception of the odd glass.”
In the end, he couldn’t stay away from the stage
With Georgie Fame as special guest, the Manfreds will be back on tour in October. The bluesman says, “I love it.” I have many boltholes, and every night there’s a gig.
He says that if it wasn’t for music, he would have lived a simple life producing poetry books, listening to it at jazz events and maybe even a job as an educator or librarian.
“I am glad that I did not.”
*The Manfreds tour tickets are available here.
Dreamboats & Petticoats presents: Manfred Mann – 54321 The greatest hits is released on the 24 th September.
Publited Sat 28 August 2021 at 23:01:00 PM +0000