Here's a simple TIMELINE -
Raymond Ronald Jones -aka Wizz Jones was born April 25th 1939 to a poor working class family in Croydon which was at that time a small town in the county of Surrey on the outskirts of South London. Attending Oval Primary and Junior School and later Selhurst Grammar School for boys where Jones felt well out of his depth amongst boys mainly from fairly well-off middle class professional families.
Being constantly absent due to severe bouts of migraine and having to attend weekly physiotherapy exercises for a curvature of the spine he left school at the age of 16 in 1955 with meagre qualifications.
Inspired by Folk and Blues music heard on BBC and European Radio, Jones began to teach himself to play the acoustic guitar.
He worked for a year or so at a textile warehouse in the City of london and then at a similar establishment in the West End. On leaving home around this time he moved into a rented attic room in Porchester Square close by Marble Arch and soon discovered the delights of a bohemian life-style in Soho.
In February 1958 Jones was 'called up' for a 2 years National Service choosing to join the RAF. However he was discharged 3 days later on medical grounds because of a history of hemiplegic migraine. His papers bearing the depressing legend 'Reason for discharge - not likely to become efficient.'
After a period in London he hitch-hiked to Cornwall in April 1959 following friends who had travelled there the year before. After an idyllic year of casual hotel work and busking in Newquay
he continued travelling for the next couple of years throughout Europe and Morocco mostly with girlfriend Sandy Wedlake. They married in 1963 and he continued to pursue a modest living as a guitar playing folksinger to this day (2020) achieving moderate success.
They have 3 sons , a daughter and 4 grandchildren.
And here's the 'Music Biog'......
Born 1939 in Croydon, Surrey, Wizz
began his musical career at the age of 18 leading a Country and Skiffle band called
"The Wranglers" in 1957. He
had been inspired to take up the acoustic guitar a year or so before
this after hearing such guitar luminaries as Big Bill Broonzy, Rambling
Jack Elliot and Muddy Waters playing at a club in London organized
by Cyril Davies and Alexis Korner (The Roundhouse in Wardour Street).
Having learned most of his blues licks from Long John Baldry and
Davy Graham whilst playing in the coffee bars of Soho, Wizz followed
the time honoured trail - busking throughout Europe with many different
musicians including at one time a budding young blues-man named
returning to Britain in the early sixties, Wizz formed a blue-grass
duo with banjo-picker Pete Stanley, a partnership which was to last
for four years during which time Wizz and Pete recorded a single
and LP Album for EMI. (Now available on CD with previously un-released
bonus tracks on the Rollercoaster label).
and Pete went their separate ways at the end of 1967 and Wizz returned
to solo work collaborating with songwriter Alan Tunbridge (an artist
friend from the Soho days) and occasionally with guitarist Peter
Berryman. He enjoyed considerable success throughout the 70's In
Europe and Scandinavia both as a touring soloist and together with
his wife Sandy in the group "Lazy Farmer" (the group's album due to be released on CD autumn 2005).
back in England and several albums later - in spite of being often
mentioned as an important early influence by artists such as Eric
Clapton, John Renbourn and Ralph McTell (see Ralph's biog of Wizz),
Wizz retained a certain "musician's musician" reputation, only occasionally
playing club gigs and the odd festival spot sometimes with son Simeon
on Sax, Harmonica and Flute. (As Billy Connolly says in the "Acoustic
Routes" TV Documentary on Bert Jansch - "My friend Wizz has
had a somewhat wispy career - now you see him now you don't!")
was possibly as a result of Wizz's appearance in this film and the
re-issue of some of his long lost classics during the 90's that
Wizz began to enjoy a bit of a come-back!
recordings followed notably on the U.S. based Scenescof label which
led to Wizz's first trip to America (see review "Wizz Jones - 1st
show in U.S.) and later on an appearance in the documentary film
"The Ballad Of Rambling Jack Elliot".
Wizz celebrated his 65th birthday on April 23rd 2004 in London, together with Simeon and guest musicians at The Half Moon Putney and 2006 saw the release of a new DVD featuring Wizz and Simeon playing and talking to Martin Carthy.
More than a decade on and now hurtling towards the age of 80 Wizz continues to plough his singular furrow leaving a trail of gigs and recordings behind him as he goes!
After touring with the late great John Renbourn a duo album on CD and Vynil titled "Joint Control" after the Bert Jansch guitar piece was produced to much acclaim followed by Wizz's latest CD "Come What May" which features guitarist Pete Berryman and of course Simeon Jones. Lately Wizz has been re-united with his old busking friend from the Cornwall days Ralph Mctell and tours and recordings have also followed.
This well used quote still rings true in 2018 - 'With his unique guitar style, an eclectic repertoire and "a right hand worthy of Broonzy" Wizz continues to tour on the acoustic folk and blues circuit'.
Oh yes I nearly forgot, a surprise performance of Wizz's 1972 song "When I Leave Berlin" by Bruce Springsteen in Berlin in 2012.
"Wizz seems to inspire a certain pleasantly ramshackle element in a gig no matter who he is appearing with. Serious - in the sense of well played and sung but still with some room for fun!"
June 26th 2018
At the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards Show in October 2019 Wizz receives a life-time achievement award.
Click on the pic to hear Wizz's dodgy acceptance speech!