Gordon & Brian
(Brothers)

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GORDON &
BRIAN JONES

My brother is six years older than me and at the time, was obsessed with Bob Dylan. It was around this time that we started playing and singing together. He was always on at me to learn Bob Dylan, but I wasn’t really into it. I relented and we became a duo. My Dad used to take us around all the folk clubs of the time. I can remember, we’d go to Pete McGovern’s Club in Liverpool and he christened us ‘The Lads’. So that’s who we were. We were that and we sang and played together for quite, quite some time. Until my brother went off to art college in Edinburgh and went on to have his own folk career. I was back to singing on my own.

GORDON &
BRIAN JONES

My brother is six years older than me and at the time, was obsessed with Bob Dylan. It was around this time that we started playing and singing together. He was always on at me to learn Bob Dylan, but I wasn’t really into it. I relented and we became a duo. My Dad used to take us around all the folk clubs of the time. I can remember, we’d go to Pete McGovern’s Club in Liverpool and he christened us ‘The Lads’. So that’s who we were. We were that and we sang and played together for quite, quite some time. Until my brother went off to art college in Edinburgh and went on to have his own folk career. I was back to singing on my own.

GORDON &
& BRIAN JONES

Gordon said “I first met Brian in September of 1953 – he was a bit bigger than I expected, quite funny and noisier too, and so things have continued!
We spent our early years in a tiny 2 bedroom terrace next to Birkenhead Park where Dad tried to school us in the important things in life – mostly cricket practice using the tree just inside the front gate of the park as a wicket. Music however always played a part in our lives, mum and both of our grandmothers played piano and all family parties were a whole evening of singing (except when Uncle Bill decided it was time for drama with his unique version of “There’s a one-eyed yellow idol to the north of Khatmandu, There’s a little marble cross below the town; There’s a broken-hearted woman tends the grave of Mad Carew, And the Yellow God forever gazes down.”)

As the whole Jones family were active in the Methodist Church the hymn singing was a big part of the repertoire but so were popular songs, music hall favourites (Nelly Dean was always in the mix) and then there were Dad’s ukulele specials from George Formby (only if Mum tuned his Uke for him) and his Bing Crosby favourites, there’d be some Goons nonsense from all three brothers and Norman, the youngest brother, would produce a guitar and there would be Spike Jones and Lonnie Donegan before the Welsh contingent would arrive and the repertoire would get serious with Land of My Fathers and the classic moment when Dad led them in Welsh with his Sospan Fach (from his days in the Welsh Guards). This was not only a wide range of material but it ran the whole range of entertainment and emotion and all sung with big voices and natural and moving harmony. So I guess we started with all these kinds of music and the sound of harmony singing as part of our lives – what could go wrong?

I enjoyed for some time being in a youth choir at the church and being particularly moved by the difference in those “hebridean” tunes that always turned up in these repertoires like Speed Bonny Boat – and Mingulay Boat song they sounded different somehow. I also sang in the school choir and that was again a bit special as I found it really easy to sing with the strength and expression that others seemed to struggle to manage, singing felt good and natural.

THEstart OF THE GORDON & BRIAN JONES BAND

(EARLY NAUGHTIES)

I struggled to find a way into playing an instrument, hated recorder lessons at school and went for some piano lessons but didn’t persevere. Meanwhile that noisy and funny little brother began to pick up instruments and just play them, he took some guitar lessons but as he simply learnt all the pieces he was taught by ear right away and the teacher thought he was reading the music that didn’t really last. He was singing and playing and entertaining everyone and his guitar was not the best so we all set off to Liverpool to Frank Hessy’s shop to look for a better instrument for Brian.
It became a thing, the kids would come in and enjoy singing the old songs with me. I was preparing for a gig and asked if they wanted to come with me. That was the start of the Jones Family Band.

Andrew (son) is a multi-instrumentalist, very much like myself, and he’s a very, very talented young man and can just literally jam in with anything or anybody. On stage, he’s played guitar, mandolin, bouzouki, stompbox. He actually plays bass as well on stage. And he is also a very good drummer, but never did that on stage and also can sing harmonies just like his dad. And we always fight over the bass line because my dad was in the Welsh Guards male voice choir post-war and he was always in the bass line. This is why we love singing unaccompanied songs, the bass line is the most fun to do.

And then you have got Samantha (youngest daughter), who is the baby of the family. Sam wasn’t with us originally, but we said to her because she can, she’s a good singer and she can harmonize, we said you need to learn to play something. If you learn to play the bass you can be in the band. So she learned to play the bass and she learned to play guitar. Now she sings all the top harmonies. She’s natural at it as well, which is really fun.

Then there is my lovely wife Helen, who as I say is ‘in Sing’ with Me. We actually used to sing together when we were kids, when we were young, when we first married, and then we sang with Janet. Helen has a very strong melody voice and she is quite high which fits in really well with what we do.

Next, we have Laura, who everybody in the family calls Rainman because she remembers everything and she stands next to me to remind me to sing. Laura sings Harmony, but along with me, is also lead vocalist. And she’s got a fabulous voice. She’s the most reluctant performer I’ve ever known bit she loves to sing and can play the piano as well. You hear Laura’s voice properly when she sings with an audience in front of her. She has got a fabulous voice and a feeling for our work. She also does some talking to the audience as well, she’s very funny. She holds me together.

And then there’s me on the end, of course, I do what I do. Yeah. We make a very pleasant noise. We’ve got a nice following of people.

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