Singer/guitarist born Paris 1928 of Austrian and Greek/Turkish parentage, settled in U.K. in mid-1930’s where he became one of founding fathers’ of British rock. In early 1950’s Korner’s pioneering created a British audience eager to welcome Muddy Waters, Big Bill Broonzy, John Lee Hooker, Sonny Terry, and Brownie McGhee – until then almost totally ignored outside Black Ghettos in the States.
From end of 1940s, Korner picked his way carefully but steadily through the trad jazz and home-made skiffle booms of following decade until on 17 March 1962, with harmonica player Cyril Davis, he formed the legendary Blues Incorporated, one of the first white electric blues bands in the world.
The band opened at their own Ealing Blues Club on that date, and shortly moved to the Marquee. On bass a few mouths after original incarnation would be Jack Bruce, on drums Charlie Watts (later replaced by Ginger Baker), on tenor sax Dick Heckstall-Smith, and, later, on vocals-Mick Jagger. (The Rolling Stones came together to dep for Blues Incorporated at the Marquee when the rest of the parent band were doing a broadcast.
Korner’s successive bands have inspired and/or employed many great British rock musicians, but the Blues Incorporated era bred a galaxy of talent, including names like Eric Burdon, Long John Baldry, Panl Jones, Keith Richard, Ginger Baker, Brian Jones, Graham Bond, Lee Jackson, Danny Thompson, Terry Cox, Phil Seamen, Hughie Flint, John Surman, Ray Warleigh, John McLaughlin, Davy Graham. All were influenced by Korner’s faith in rhythm and blues.
In 1967 Korner formed Free At Last with Victor Brox, Hughie Flint, Gerry Conway, Cliff Barton, Binky McKenzie, and Marsha Hunt. This band was short-Iived, and the rest of 1967-68 saw him working in duos with first Victor Brox and then Robert Plant.
During 1968 he toured Scandiuavia with Danish singer Peter Thorup, and on return to England 1969 formed New Church sharing vocals with Thorup and teenage daughter Sappho Korner. Colin Hodgkinson (bs), later of Back Door, was among back-up men. Disbanded New Church late 1970 but coutinued to work with Thorup, pair of them linking with producer Mickie Most and musical director/composer John Cameron to create studio big band CCs (Collective Consciousness Society).
In late 1970, CCs had Top Ten single with version of Led Zeppelin’s Whole Lotta Love (subsequently uted as theme for Top Of The Pops)-giving Korner, at forty-two, his real commercial success. CCs had two more hits in 1971, Walking and Tap Turns On The Water, but project disintegrated shortly after.
In 1972, on American visit, Korner assembled yet another short-lived group, Snape, with Thorup and personnel from King Crimson. They backed him on (7) but disbanded after few months. since then, Korner has continued to play with occasional pick-up bands, re-tell his colourful past over and over again, and regularly be heard bear-growling his way through radio and TV commercials.
In addition to aforementioned activities, Korner was also directly involved in formation of Free. (8) features back-up from Keith Richard, Steve Marriott, Peter Frampton, Kokomo, Nicky Hopkins, Colin Hodgkinson.
Discography is selective:
(I) The Legendary Cyril Davies With Alexis Korner’s
Breakdown Group And The Roundhouse Jug Four
(private pressing 1957, Folklore 1970)
(2) R & B From The Marquee (Ace of Clubs 1962)
(3) Alexis Korner’s Blues Incorporated (Ace of Clubs 1963)
(4) Alexis Korner’s Blues Incorporated (Polydor 1967)
(5) Alexis Korner And New Church – Both Sides
(Metronome 1970- umissued in U.K.)
(6) Alexis (Rak 1971)
(7) Accidentally Born In New Orleans (Transatlantic 1973)
(8) Get Off My Cloud (CBS 1975).
(9) Boodeg Him (Rak 1972).