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Elmo Lewis and the harmonica
Posted by: Kingbeebuzz ()
Date: January 4, 2012 01:59

I went to see The Blues Band before Xmas on 7th December at a small venue, the weather was bad and the place wasn't full so the atmosphere was very relaxed and during the interval got talking with the band, particularly Paul Jones. He's now 69 but looks in better shape than Jagger and I'm not exaggerating.

For those who don't know he is the singer in the Blues Band, in the sixties he sang with Manfred Mann and before that he sang blues and played harmonica in a duet with Brian Jones, pre-Stones. Brian called himself Elmo Lewis and Paul Jones went under has real/original name of Paul Pond (or PP Pond). I think they played in Oxford and then moved down to London.

As the Stones were being formed (by Brian.......Stu was first to join) Brian and Keith approached him to sing in the Stones before Jagger and he turned them down.

Anyway, Paul Jones (who changed his name to Jones) is a great harmonica player. He is currently President of the National Harmonica League and in 2010 was awarded "player of the year" at the British Blues Awards.

When I got into conversation with him I asked a question that I've long been curious about : "Did Brian teach you to play the harmonica or did you teach Brian?"

His immediate reply was "yes"........then he said "actually it wasn't like that"

He went on to explain that he was playing harp in C but couldn't get the blues sound he wanted. But it was Brian who could already play blues harp and showed him how to get the blues sound using a G harp.

This is really interesting because to get from Cheltenham to London at that time, Brian would most likely have gone via Oxford, where I believe he met Paul Jones who was at University there in Jesus College.

It is therefore possible that Brian could play blues harp before he went to London to meet up with Alexis Korner. Although Cyril Davies was in Blues Incorporated with Alex at the Ealing Jazz Club and both Brian and Paul must have met Cyril and learnt from him, my conversation with Paul Jones strongly suggests that Brian could already play well because in a matter of weeks he was teaching Jagger.

Anyway, I thought this would be worth passing on to you all.

Re: Elmo Lewis and the harmonica
Posted by: Blue ()
Date: January 4, 2012 02:57

This is interesting info, I would not be surprised that Brian would have learned the blues harmonica beforehand if this is true...we all know he could learn instruments quickly...I think the harmonica is the one he really, truly mastered. Thanks for this post and passing this information along...Information about Brian that is accurate is difficult to come by, and it is great that this came from a person that was there.

Re: Elmo Lewis and the harmonica
Posted by: Elmo Lewis ()
Date: January 4, 2012 03:01

Thanks for the shout out!

Re: Elmo Lewis and the harmonica
Posted by: sweetcharmedlife ()
Date: January 4, 2012 03:13

Quote
Elmo Lewis
Thanks for the shout out!
LOL. Thought he was talking about you.cool smiley

"It's just some friends of mine and they're busting down the door"

Re: Elmo Lewis and the harmonica
Posted by: 24FPS ()
Date: January 4, 2012 04:35

Kingbeebuzz: "Brian and Keith approached him to sing in the Stones before Jagger and he turned them down." - quote

Uh......I thought the order was: Brian & Stu with Brian placing the ad. Then Mick, who later brought along Keith.

Re: Elmo Lewis and the harmonica
Posted by: His Majesty ()
Date: January 4, 2012 04:59

Seems Paul is mis remembering things a little bit, quite understandible given how long ago it was.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2012-01-04 05:12 by His Majesty.

Re: Elmo Lewis and the harmonica
Posted by: flacnvinyl ()
Date: January 4, 2012 06:17

Anything remotely 'Elmo Lewis' related, I give a +1!

Re: Elmo Lewis and the harmonica
Posted by: originalstones ()
Date: January 4, 2012 13:11

I thought there was a story that Keith told many years ago that Brian learned to play Blues harp when they lived at Edith Grove. Brian was sitting at the top of the stairs and said "listen to this" and started playing Blues harp. And Keith said that Brian figured it out in just one day.

Mick Jagger also claims to have learned Blues harp from Cyril Davies, not Brian. Unfortunately the Stones story is a little confusing.

Re: Elmo Lewis and the harmonica
Posted by: StonesTod ()
Date: January 4, 2012 14:27

paul's also had a great thespian career in britain. and he and the manfreds and the blues band still get lots of play at chez ST...

Re: Elmo Lewis and the harmonica
Posted by: Elmo Lewis ()
Date: January 4, 2012 16:47

Quote
flacnvinyl
Anything remotely 'Elmo Lewis' related, I give a +1!

You da man, drake!

"No Anchovies, Please"

Re: Elmo Lewis and the harmonica
Posted by: 24FPS ()
Date: January 4, 2012 17:56

Quote
originalstones
I thought there was a story that Keith told many years ago that Brian learned to play Blues harp when they lived at Edith Grove. Brian was sitting at the top of the stairs and said "listen to this" and started playing Blues harp. And Keith said that Brian figured it out in just one day.

Yeah, I remember that one from a long time ago. Also, that Brian had been trying so hard that his lips were bleeding.

There seems to be some conflict between Brian's playing and Jagger's. I think Jagger thinks he was the better player, and you can make the argument that he stuck with it longer and got more proficient than Brian ever bothered. Still, you can't argue with Brian's early playing and it's contribution. I find some of it hypnotic and primitive in a good way. That would be an interesting question for Jagger, about his history with playing harmonica. I thought I've seen pictures of him playing harp before he joined the Stones.

Re: Elmo Lewis and the harmonica
Posted by: His Majesty ()
Date: January 4, 2012 18:01

Mick didn't get better per se until long after Brian was dead. Mick had more time to mature and thus did, but they were both just different types of players really.

Gold Painted Fingernails from 1967 shows Brian still had his shit together even during the hardest of times when it came to harmonica playing.

Re: Elmo Lewis and the harmonica
Posted by: TheDailyBuzzherd ()
Date: January 4, 2012 19:31

Whatever the story as to who taught whom, the real story
is Brian was The Stones' best resident harpist. Jagger's
good too, hell, listen to the intro to "The Spider and
The Fly"! But, Jones overall is the better player. An
annoyance of mine is that Jones often played that instead
of his guitar live, but the beauty then is at least it was
them playing instead of all these backup musicians.

Re: Elmo Lewis and the harmonica
Posted by: His Majesty ()
Date: January 4, 2012 19:59

Quote
TheDailyBuzzherd
An annoyance of mine is that Jones often played that instead
of his guitar live.

This is a positive imo, it gave more variation in their sound, a break from 2 guitar thing was a good thing imo.

Re: Elmo Lewis and the harmonica
Posted by: Wry Cooter ()
Date: January 4, 2012 20:16

We've had this discussion before I know, but IMO Jagger's playing is far better than Jones' technically and otherwise. Neither is a virtuoso, but Jones' playing is a bit one trick pony -- a slightly better John Lennon.

Re: Elmo Lewis and the harmonica
Posted by: His Majesty ()
Date: January 4, 2012 20:26

Quote
Wry Cooter
We've had this discussion before I know, but IMO Jagger's playing is far better than Jones' technically and otherwise. Neither is a virtuoso, but Jones' playing is a bit one trick pony -- a slightly better John Lennon.

Lol. He was far better than John Lennon!!! eye popping smiley

Mick was not technically better than Brian whilst Brian was still alive, but technical ability doesn't really mean much here eh? I can understand why some may prefer Mick's harmonica playing during 1963 - 1969 over Brians because Mick did play with more vocal like phrases etc where as Brian had a tendency when playing harmonica live to maybe over play a bit.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 2012-01-04 21:05 by His Majesty.

Re: Elmo Lewis and the harmonica
Posted by: Mathijs ()
Date: January 4, 2012 21:01

Quote
His Majesty
Quote
TheDailyBuzzherd
An annoyance of mine is that Jones often played that instead
of his guitar live.

This is a positive imo, it gave more variation in their sound, a break from 2 guitar thing was a good thing imo.

And actually, the Stones where conceived as a one-guitar-one-harmonica band from the start. Brian thougt of himself as the harmonica player of the band, not the guitarist. Of course, as we know now, by early '64, due to the Beatles, blues was out, pop was in, and the rest is history.

Mathijs

Re: Elmo Lewis and the harmonica
Posted by: Mathijs ()
Date: January 4, 2012 21:04

Quote
Wry Cooter
We've had this discussion before I know, but IMO Jagger's playing is far better than Jones' technically and otherwise. Neither is a virtuoso, but Jones' playing is a bit one trick pony -- a slightly better John Lennon.

Well, I am not the biggest Brian Jones fan on this board, but I do think that in all reality Jones's harmonica playing was truly fabulous, really among the best I know.

Mathijs

Re: Elmo Lewis and the harmonica
Posted by: His Majesty ()
Date: January 4, 2012 21:04

Quote
Mathijs


And actually, the Stones where conceived as a one-guitar-one-harmonica band from the start. Brian thougt of himself as the harmonica player of the band, not the guitarist. Of course, as we know now, by early '64, due to the Beatles, blues was out, pop was in, and the rest is history.

Mathijs

Not quite, but yes from the start it seems he didn't see the band as having to have this 2 guitar thing going all the time.

Re: Elmo Lewis and the harmonica
Posted by: Mathijs ()
Date: January 4, 2012 21:11

Quote
Kingbeebuzz
I went to see The Blues Band before Xmas on 7th December at a small venue, the weather was bad and the place wasn't full so the atmosphere was very relaxed and during the interval got talking with the band, particularly Paul Jones. He's now 69 but looks in better shape than Jagger and I'm not exaggerating.

For those who don't know he is the singer in the Blues Band, in the sixties he sang with Manfred Mann and before that he sang blues and played harmonica in a duet with Brian Jones, pre-Stones. Brian called himself Elmo Lewis and Paul Jones went under has real/original name of Paul Pond (or PP Pond). I think they played in Oxford and then moved down to London.

As the Stones were being formed (by Brian.......Stu was first to join) Brian and Keith approached him to sing in the Stones before Jagger and he turned them down.

Anyway, Paul Jones (who changed his name to Jones) is a great harmonica player. He is currently President of the National Harmonica League and in 2010 was awarded "player of the year" at the British Blues Awards.

When I got into conversation with him I asked a question that I've long been curious about : "Did Brian teach you to play the harmonica or did you teach Brian?"

His immediate reply was "yes"........then he said "actually it wasn't like that"

He went on to explain that he was playing harp in C but couldn't get the blues sound he wanted. But it was Brian who could already play blues harp and showed him how to get the blues sound using a G harp.

This is really interesting because to get from Cheltenham to London at that time, Brian would most likely have gone via Oxford, where I believe he met Paul Jones who was at University there in Jesus College.

It is therefore possible that Brian could play blues harp before he went to London to meet up with Alexis Korner. Although Cyril Davies was in Blues Incorporated with Alex at the Ealing Jazz Club and both Brian and Paul must have met Cyril and learnt from him, my conversation with Paul Jones strongly suggests that Brian could already play well because in a matter of weeks he was teaching Jagger.

Anyway, I thought this would be worth passing on to you all.

One thing I don't understand though...in my book, playing blues harmonica, or cross harp, is much, much easier than straight harp. I mean, if you give a G harp to my 3 year old daughter and play a blues in C, she's got half the tones right. I only need to teach her how the bend some notes, and then she's got 80% right.

But if you play 'straight' harp, so a C harmonica over a C-blues, then you really need quite some technical skills and knowlegde of scales, in order to play anything decent.

As far as I know, Brian only played cross harp, using a minimum of two harps to play a track like Not fade Away.

Mathijs



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2012-01-05 00:55 by Mathijs.

Re: Elmo Lewis and the harmonica
Posted by: Kingbeebuzz ()
Date: January 4, 2012 23:02

I would like to throw these thoughts into the pot ;

1. Just because Jagger says he learnt harp from Cyril Davies does not exclude that he learnt from Brian too. Afterall they were living in the same flat! and it is just inconceivable that if they were starting a band together they wouldn't have shared their musical knowledge and skills. In the early sixties in London the world was a lot different from today, there was a lot of sharing, exchanging going on with bands. They mixed more and saw each other more, not just on the road on package tours but in the London clubs.

2. Keith's story of Brian sitting at the top of the stairs and the "bleeding lips" story are.......well, stories. They fit the starving artistes myth of the time that helped to build the legend. These stories were pedalled in the press very early on. I think they are what we would now all recognise as PR or spin. Very early on in 1964 a book was published called I think "The Stones Story" which was ghost written and helped to push their image. It was in those sorts of publications and the music press that these stories came to be seen as fact. I'm sure they were probably born out of small incidents but presented as large facts. The fact is that Brian could play harp before he ever set foot in Edith Grove.

3. To say that Paul Jones is mis-remembering things because it was all a long time ago is, I think, frankly stupid and self-opinionated. I have reported what Paul Jones told me. Brian could play blues harp before he met the other Stones. Paul Jones knew and performed often with Brian for a short while..........what possible basis could you have to doubt what the man says. He could have easily shrugged me off but he didn't. He corrected his first response and took the time to explain how it was back then. Anyone who doubts him here should clarify specifically why. Just because someone is 69 does not mean they do not have clear memories.

4. It is absolutely correct to say that the Stones story in the early days is confusing, and its sad that the remaining Stones have not clarified more of the detail. I accept that after Brian and Stu there is confusion over who was next in. However, it is a fact that Paul Jones was asked to be the singer in Brian's new band and he turned him down, before Jagger was asked. Exactly how this happened we don't know. They might have been asked weeks apart or on the same day.

5. I always take Mick and Keith's histories of the Stones, in relation to Brian, with a pinch of salt. At the time, it seems they didn't like Brian much but needed him in the very early days. What Keith in particular has said/written in the last 25 years is not always how it was/seemed at the time. For example, much has been made of Keith "discovering" open tuning from Gram Parsons or Ry Cooder. It seems very doubtful to me that he was not aware of it earlier. Whether he used open tuning then is a different issue but he must surely have known about it and understood it. Brian had played with open tuning as had Alexis Korner. Keith's version doesn't seem credible. I believe when Keith first set eyes on Brian he was performing Dust My Broom, so something doesn't add up.

Next time I see the Blues Band I will try and get these questions answered by Paul Jones if I possibly can.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2012-01-04 23:15 by Kingbeebuzz.

Re: Elmo Lewis and the harmonica
Posted by: His Majesty ()
Date: January 4, 2012 23:53

I mean't the mis remembering for the bit about Brian and Keith asking him to join.

Paul and Brian were already performing together when Mick and Keith met Brian at Ealing club. Paul was infact singing with Brian that night. Paul has spoke about this before and his comments before make more sense given how Keith was introduced to the The Rolling Stones via Mick etc.

Brian did indeed ask him to be the singer in his blues band, it's just the timing of it that's a bit off in this recent recollection. smiling smiley



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 2012-01-05 00:07 by His Majesty.

Re: Elmo Lewis and the harmonica
Posted by: ChicagoCalling ()
Date: July 29, 2014 03:34

Brian and Mick both tried to pick up what they could in the way of harmonica technique etc. from Cyril Davies but I firmly believe that Cyril was never overly accommodating with them. Raw talent (great musical ears) & hard work (practice) elevated the skill level of both Stones to where they became harmonica players of note. Paul Jones said of Cyril and the Stones, "He would have left a gap but there were so many people who kind of took the instrument up as a result of hearing him that by the time he died people were ready to sort of leap into the breach - I'm talking about, two of them in the Stones, both Mick and Brian Jones". Paul Jones' Memories

Re: Elmo Lewis and the harmonica
Posted by: Wild Slivovitz ()
Date: July 29, 2014 12:17

Quote
Mathijs


One thing I don't understand though...in my book, playing blues harmonica, or cross harp, is much, much easier than straight harp. I mean, if you give a G harp to my 3 year old daughter and play a blues in C, she's got half the tones right. I only need to teach her how the bend some notes, and then she's got 80% right.

Well, it really isn't that easy. By the way, Blues in C in cross harp is played with a F harp (mixolydian), not with a G one (lydian).

Re: Elmo Lewis and the harmonica
Posted by: dadrob ()
Date: July 29, 2014 14:54

Brian played Sax before he played harp so he had some skills with reed instruments already. That stuff does translate. learning where to go on the harp is the next step....then to get truly good one has to master tongue blocking and such. I do not esteem Brian's harp playing much. He was no Little Walter..he was not even Duster Bennett.

Re: Elmo Lewis and the harmonica
Posted by: More Hot Rocks ()
Date: July 29, 2014 16:18

Quote
Wild Slivovitz
Quote
Mathijs


One thing I don't understand though...in my book, playing blues harmonica, or cross harp, is much, much easier than straight harp. I mean, if you give a G harp to my 3 year old daughter and play a blues in C, she's got half the tones right. I only need to teach her how the bend some notes, and then she's got 80% right.

Well, it really isn't that easy. By the way, Blues in C in cross harp is played with a F harp (mixolydian), not with a G one (lydian).

Thats not the correct mode names. The F harp and the G harp have a Bb and a F# respectively. The Mix and lydian modes in C are just C scales staring on F and G. The F and G harp would be considered Dorian modes in F and G.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 2014-07-29 16:40 by More Hot Rocks.

Re: Elmo Lewis and the harmonica
Posted by: Elmo ()
Date: April 12, 2022 14:14

I thought I would resurrect this thread because I saw Paul Jones a few days ago, playing with the Manfreds, who are also celebrating 60 years soon. Paul is still remarkable for his age - he's 80 now - and that's not patronising because the physical demands of singing and his incredible harmonica playing can't get any easier. Tom McGuinness is a little older and played with Clapton in the Roosters, which brings me to this thread and my point...

The OP had spoken to Paul about his time playing with Brian Jones as a blues duo and it occurs to me that the people who really know the answers to all our questions about the Stones in the early days are slowly leaving us and unless we get this info from them soon it will pass with them and be lost. We've already lost Charlie, Bill is 85...we need to speak to them soon and ask these questions. The band's history from the pop days onward are well documented but first hand accounts of the Pond/Lewis duo and other stuff is in the minds of precious few people now. So, if anyone has contacts with these guys it's time to ask the questions that we, as Stones fans, want to know. Any takers?

Re: Elmo Lewis and the harmonica
Posted by: Big Al ()
Date: April 12, 2022 15:11

Is there an accurate list of the Stones' tracks that feature Brian on harmonica? I know it's him playing on I Just Want To Make Love To You and Look What You've Done, but stating which, exactly, he's featured on would be interesting. I like to think his playing is a little more distinct than Mick's 60's efforts.

Re: Elmo Lewis and the harmonica
Posted by: Elmo Lewis ()
Date: April 12, 2022 16:03

Quote
Wild Slivovitz
Quote
Mathijs


One thing I don't understand though...in my book, playing blues harmonica, or cross harp, is much, much easier than straight harp. I mean, if you give a G harp to my 3 year old daughter and play a blues in C, she's got half the tones right. I only need to teach her how the bend some notes, and then she's got 80% right.

Well, it really isn't that easy. By the way, Blues in C in cross harp is played with a F harp (mixolydian), not with a G one (lydian).

Yes, the blues cross harp needs to be a fourth above the root.

Re: Elmo Lewis and the harmonica
Posted by: Wild Slivovitz ()
Date: April 12, 2022 16:39

Quote
More Hot Rocks
Quote
Wild Slivovitz
Quote
Mathijs


One thing I don't understand though...in my book, playing blues harmonica, or cross harp, is much, much easier than straight harp. I mean, if you give a G harp to my 3 year old daughter and play a blues in C, she's got half the tones right. I only need to teach her how the bend some notes, and then she's got 80% right.

Well, it really isn't that easy. By the way, Blues in C in cross harp is played with a F harp (mixolydian), not with a G one (lydian).

Thats not the correct mode names. The F harp and the G harp have a Bb and a F# respectively. The Mix and lydian modes in C are just C scales staring on F and G. The F and G harp would be considered Dorian modes in F and G.

[jazzfuel.com]

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