Alexis Korner

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Alexis Korner 1980

Alexis Korner (born April 19, 1928 in Paris as Alexis Andrew Nicholas Koerner , † January 1, 1984 in London ) was an English blues musician. He is considered a key figure in the British blues rock scene in the 1960s. In his band Blues Incorporated British musical stars such as B. Mick Jagger , Ginger Baker , Dick Heckstall-Smith , Charlie Watts , Cyril Davis , Jack Bruce , Brian Jones , Duffy Power and many more

Alexis Korner is considered to be one of the most important representatives of the blues revival in the early 1960s. The Melody Maker called him the "Father of British Blues". He was also called, like John Mayall , the "father of the white blues".

In the 1970s, Korner performed with a big band . He also had a significant impact on the German blues scene. B. with Klaus Doldinger and the Frankfurt City Blues Band . Other European countries, such as B. Denmark, where he u. a. worked with Peter Thorup and Young Flowers, experienced a blues boom through Alexis Korner.

Live and act

1928–1948: childhood and youth

Korner grew up multicultural : his father was a Jewish Austrian cavalry officer, his mother a Greek. The family lived in Switzerland, France and North Africa. At the beginning of the Second World War, the family fled to England on one of the last ships. From the mid- 1940s , Korner, who u. a. also spoke German as an amateur with Chris Barbers Band and played the banjo.

1948–1961: Soldier in Germany & skiffle boom

Alexis Korner at the Alt-Aumund youth center in Bremen (1968)

In 1947/48 he was stationed in Hamburg as a soldier Alec Korner. There he also looked after the BFN's record archive and moderated music programs for the BFN; At the same time he played live in jazz bars in Hamburg. In the middle to the end of 1948 he moderated the program Jazz Studio at NWDR , which was later discontinued due to audience protests, the inclusion of bebop displeased some listeners.

In the late 1940s, Korner played as a semi-professional musician in Chris Barber's jazz band . He then returned to London, where he performed with various London skiffle bands in the early 1950s. In 1954 he made his first recordings with Ken Colyer , in 1958 he produced music with the Skiffle band for Tempo ( Blues from the Roadhouse ). With Chris Barber he met the harmonica player and blues fan Cyril Davies .

1961-1967: Blues Incorporated

In 1961 Korner founded the group Blues Incorporated with Cyril Davies, which existed until 1967 . Well-known musicians such as Brian Jones , Mick Jagger , Charlie Watts , Danny Thompson , Jack Bruce , Ginger Baker , Eric Burdon , Graham Bond and Dick Heckstall-Smith played and sang in it . They were current or later members of groups that became very successful internationally, such as Rolling Stones , Cream , Animals , Manfred Mann's Earth Band or Colosseum . Blues Inc. appeared several times on the BBC and, together with Cyril Davies' All Stars , were the first European blues band to play electrically amplified music. In 1963 Davies left the band to devote more time to the blues, as Korner had brought a brass section into the band and the music had become too jazzy for Davies.

1967-1969: Free At Last & New Church

In 1967 Korner founded the group Free At Last with Cliff Barton, Victor Brox , Gerry Conway , Marsha Hunt , Hughie Flint and Binky McKenzie . After a few months Korner performed in a duet with Brox - later in a trio with Robert Plant and pianist Steve Miller. In 1968 a Scandinavian tour followed with the Danish singer Peter Thorup and his band "Beefeaters". Back in England, Korner formed the New Church formation with his daughter Sappho, Thorup, Nick South, Ray Warleigh , Annette Brox, Per Frost and Colin Hodgkinson , which in 1969 opened the Rolling Stones concert in honor of the late Brian Jones in Hyde Park , London .

1970-1973: CCS & Snape

In 1970 Korner, Thorup, producer Mickie Most and songwriter John Cameron founded the CCS. This is where the blues-inspired big band sound met rock music. With CCS, Korner received recognition from a wider audience for a short time. A cover version of Whole Lotta Love by Led Zeppelin was a commercial success. In 1973 the band broke up and Korner and Thorup founded the band Snape (CD Live on Tour in Germany 1973 ) with Boz Burrell , Mel Collins and Ian Wallace (all from King Crimson ). In September 1970 Alexis Korner was the presenter at the Love and Peace Festival on Fehmarn.

1974–1984: Solo career

Duo: "Alexis & Colin" 1980

From 1974 Korner worked, apart from an intensive and long-term collaboration with Colin Hodgkinson as "Alexis & Colin", only in short-term projects. On his subsequent solo albums he received support from numerous musicians from the rock and jazz camps. Peter Frampton , Nicky Hopkins and Steve Marriott , among others , were involved in "Get Off of my Cloud" (1975) . On the "Party Album" for his 50th birthday in 1978, he brought together the wind players from the Blues Incorporated (such as John Surman , Alan Skidmore , Art Themes or Chris Pyne ). In 1981 Korner formed the group Rocket 88 , from which the album of the same name comes, which was recorded live in Germany with the Rolling Stones mobile recording studio. Alexis Korner had his last public appearance on August 20, 1983 in Eindhoven . In December 1983 he made his last recordings on the BBC, which are included in the anthology "Kornerstoned".

When Korner complained of a severe headache towards the end of 1983, he was admitted to a hospital in London, where initially no serious illness could be determined. On January 1, 1984, Alexis Korner, who was a heavy smoker, died of tumors in the lungs and brain. A few days before his death he produced the last recordings on a tape recorder, which are still unpublished at the family's request. In response to his death, some of his former band members later organized a memorial concert with musicians from Korner's environment, which was also released on LP.

Korner was married to Roberta Korner, née Melville, from 1950. His daughter, the musician Sappho Gillett Korner, and sons Nicholas and Damián (Damien) come from the marriage.


Rhythm & Blues World Service

Alexis Korner hosted a weekly, 15-minute radio broadcast on the BBC in the late 1960s. No records were put on, the bands played live in the recording studio. Here were, among others, Jimi Hendrix and Cream. At a performance by Jimi Hendrix, Korner played the slide guitar, which can be heard on the CD BBC Sessions by Hendrix.

Sympathy for the Devil

In 1972 Korner hosted a thirteen-part show on the history of rock and blues called "Sympathy for the Devil". This series was also broadcast internationally in German-speaking countries (Germany, Switzerland, Austria). Written and directed to the Regional Program of the German radio station North German Broadcasting were Horst Koenigstein and Manfred Miller , who also moderated.

The Devil's Music

In the late 1970s, the BBC recorded two seasons of this program, which aired from 1979. Alexis Korner introduced old blues musicians and showed their musical situation at the end of the decade. The aim was to create an impression of how early blues music might have sounded at the beginning of the 20th century. As in his career as a musician, he introduced rather unknown artists to a wide audience. Active guests in this program were u. a. Big Joe Williams , Bukka White , Houston Stackhouse , Sonny Blake, and Sam Chatmon .

Guitar greats

In 1983 the BBC produced another 13 episodes of the program with Korner. In it he interviewed a. a. Guitarists like Eric Clapton , BB King , Brian May and many more. Not only the popular songs, but also musical rarities by these artists were presented. The broadcast lasted one hour each and was produced after Korner's death and was last broadcast in 2010.


Ken Colyer ’s Skiffle Group

  • 1954 Back to the Delta
  • 1955 Ken Colyer's Skiffle Group (EP)
  • 1955 Take This Hammer / Down By The River Side (single)
  • 1955 Go Down Old Hannah / Streamline Train (Single)

Beryl Bryden's back-room skiffle

  • 1956 Kansas City Blues / Casey Jones (single)

Alexis Korner's Breakdown Group

  • 1957 Blues From The Roundhouse
  • 1957 County Jail / I Ain't Gonna Worry No More (Single)
  • 1984 Alexis 1957 (recordings from 1957)

Alexis Korner's Skiffle Group

  • 1957 Blues From The Roundhouse Volume 1
  • 1958 Blues From The Roundhouse Volume 2

Alexis Korner's Blues Incorporated

  • 1962 R&B from the Marquee
  • 1962 Alexis Korner's Blues Incorporated (EP)
  • 1962 Blaydon Races (EP) (with Nancy Spain)
  • 1962 Blaydon Races / Uptown (single)
  • 1963 Rhythm And Blues (Various Artists Compilation)
  • 1963 See See Rider / Blues a la King (Navy Blue) (Single)
  • 1963 Alexis Korner's Blues Incorporated
  • 1964 At the Cavern
  • 1964 Red Hot From Alex
  • 1964 I Need Your Loving / Please, Please, Please (Single)
  • 1965 I Got Money / I Need Your Loving (Single)
  • 1965 Little Baby / Roberta (single)
  • 1965 Sky High
  • 1966 Rivers Invitation / Everyday I Have The Blues (Single)
  • 1967 I Wonder Who?

Free at Last

  • 1967 Rosie / Rock Me (single)

New Church

  • 1970 Both Sides

Collective Consciousness Society

  • 1970 Boom Boom / Whole Lotta Love (Single)
  • 1970 CCS
  • 1971 Walking / Salome (Single)
  • 1971 Tap Turns On The Water / Save The World (Single)
  • 1971 CCS 2nd
  • 1971 Sixteen Tons / This Is My Life (Single)
  • 1971 Brother / Mister, What You Can't Have I Can Get (Single)
  • 1973 The Band Played The Boogie / Hang It On Me (Single)
  • 1973 The Best Band In The Land
  • 1973 Hurricane Comming / Dragster (Single)


  • 1972 Accidently Born in New Orleans
  • 1972 Sweet Sympathy / Gospel Ship (Single)
  • 1973 Live On Tour In Germany

Rocket 88

  • 1981 Rocket 88


  • 1961 3/4 AD (with Davy Graham)
  • 1968 A New Generation of Blues
  • 1970 Alexis Korner
  • 1970 Clay House Inn / I Don't Know (Single)
  • 1972 Bootleg Him
  • 1973 Wild Women & Desperate Men / Machine Gun And Julie (Single)
  • 1973 Captain America / The Thief (Single)
  • 1974 Aint That Peculiar / Tree Top Fever (Single)
  • 1975 Get Off Of My Cloud / Strange 'n' Deranged (Single)
  • 1975 Get Off Of My Cloud
  • 1975 ... Meets Jack Daniels
  • 1976 Live In Paris (with Colin Hodgkinson)
  • 1978 Just Easy
  • 1978 The Party Album
  • 1978 Pinetop's Boogie Woogie / All I Got Is You (single, with Bob Hall)
  • 1978 Eat A Little Rhythm And Blues
  • 1979 Me
  • 1980 Testament (with Colin Hodgkinson)
  • 1984 juvenile delinquent
  • 1984 Beirut / Mean Fool (single)
  • 1984 White & Blues (with Colin Hodgkinson)
  • 1994 The BBC Sessions
  • 1995 The Lost Album
  • 2006 Kornerstoned
  • 2016 Live at RIAS, Berlin, June 19, 1981 (with Tony Sheridan and Steve Baker )

Participation on albums / singles / EPs of other musicians & bands

  • 1958 Alan Lomax : ... Sings Great American Ballads
  • 1959 Ramblin 'Jack Elliott : Kid Stuff
  • 1959 Champion Jack Dupree : Natural And Soulful Blues
  • 1959 Ramblin 'Jack Elliot: ... Sings Songs By Woody Guthrie And Jimmie Rogers
  • 1960 Memphis Slim : Memphis Slim
  • 1960 Memphis Slim: Goes To Kansas City (EP)
  • 1960 Memphis Slim: Pinetop's Blues (EP)
  • 1960 Little Brother Montgomery: Little Brother
  • 1961 Roosevelt Skyes : The Honeydupper
  • 1961 James Cotton : Chris Barber presents Jimmy Cotton Vol. 1
  • 1961 James Cotton : Chris Barber presents Jimmy Cotton Vol. 2
  • 1961 Ottilie Patterson : Ottilie Patterson
  • 1963 Curtis Jones: In London
  • 1968 International Hot Jazz Meeting Hamburg '68 (sampler)
  • 1968 Cuby And The Blizzards: Live '68
  • 1968 The Beefeaters: Meet You There
  • 1971 BB King : In London
  • 1972 Jack Grunsky: Toronto
  • 1972 Humble Pie : Smokin '
  • 1972 Duffy Power : Duffy Power
  • 1973 Klaus Doldinger : Doldinger Jubilee Concert
  • 1977 Eric Burdon : Survivor
  • 1977 The King Of Elfland's Daughter (Sampler)
  • 1977 Tell (soundtrack)
  • 1982 Open Air Arbon (sampler)
  • 1982 The Blues Band : Brand Loyalty (2012 Reissue Bonustracks)
  • 1983 Frankfurt City Blues Band: Live - Frankfurt City Blues Band meets Alexis Korner
  • 1983 The Blues Band : Bye Bye Blues (2012 Reissue Bonustracks)
  • 1988 The Jimi Hendrix Experience: The BBC Sessions
  • 1999 Rory Gallagher : The BBC Sessions


  • HCG Matthew and Brian Harrison in association with the British Academy: Oxford dictionary of national biography . Vol. 32: Knox-Lear. Oxford University Press, 2004, ISBN 978-0-19-861413-5 .
  • Siegfried Schmidt-Joos : Alexis Korner. Crown witness without a crown , in Schmidt-Joos (Ed.): Away from my cloud. Idole 9 , Ullstein, Frankfurt am Main 1987, ISBN 3-548-36522-1 . Revised in: Schmidt-Joos: My Back Pages. Idols and freaks, death and legend in pop music . Lukas Verlag, Berlin 2004, ISBN 978-3-936872-19-4 .
  • Harry Shapiro: Alexis Korner - The Biography. Bloomsbury, London 1996, ISBN 978-0-7475-3163-0 .
  • Irwin Stambler: The Encyclopedia Of Pop, Rock And Soul . 3. revised Ed., St. Martin's Press, New York City 1989, pp. 384-386, ISBN 0-312-02573-4 .

Web links

Commons : Alexis Korner  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Gestur Gudmundsson, Hans Weisethaunet, Ulf Lindberg, Morten Michelsen: Rock Criticism from the Beginning , Peter Lang Publishing, New York 2005, ISBN 0820474908 , pp. 92–93 ( online )
  2. Brock Helander: The Rockin 'Sixties ; Schirmer Books, London 1999, ISBN 978-0028648736 , p. 247.
  3. biography at allmusic , accessed on July 31, 2011.
  4. Big money . In: Der Spiegel . No. 5 , 1970 ( online ). The successor as the most important “figure of integration in the European music scene” was his adept John Mayall a few years later . See Rockmusiklexikon (Europa), Vol. 1, Taurus Press 1986, pp. 424-426
  5. ^ Horst Ansin, Marc Dröscher, Jürgen Foth, Gerhard Klußmeier: Anglo German Swing Club. Documents 1945–1952 , Hamburg 2003, p. 10
  6. Volker Schmidt: Life is a jam session , Die Zeit, January 5, 2009 on the 25th anniversary of Alexis Korner's death
  7. Bear in Bebop , Der Spiegel, December 4, 1948
  8. The Devil's Music: Alexis Korner's classic BBC series on the blues at .
  9. The Devil's Music at .