People say, Eric Clapton mentioned you' and I say, So what?' If he recorded one of my songs it might be different but I don't write the sort of songs that Eric Clapton would record."

Such, sadly, seems to have been the lot of Raymond Wizz' Jones. Name-checked by guitar heroes such as Keith Richards, Bert Jansch, John Renbourn and even Slowhand', Eric Clapton, he was an influential figure in the revival of English folk music in the 1960s and 70s.

Yet while friends and contemporaries such as Ralph McTell and Rod Stewart found fame and fortune, Wizz has languished on the sidelines - highly regarded by fellow musicians but largely ignored by the world at large.

At Bradford's Topic Folk Club, however, his past concerts are fondly remembered - and to celebrate their 50th anniversary, they've invited him back.

For the Croydon-born performer, now aged 67, the gig at the Cock and Bottle pub in Barkerend on Thursday will be a trip down memory lane. Back in 1958 when he made his debut at the Topic, his career was in its infancy.

"Before I was ever professional someone offered me a gig - as a support act for Steve Benbow in Bradford. I was told they even paid your train fare. I hitchhiked up the A5 and kept the train money! That was the Topic Folk Club. It was the first ever folk club I did," he recalls.

The Fifties were a period of musical discovery for Wizz (so nicknamed by his mother, after the Beano character Wizzy the Wuz). As well as enjoying the skiffle craze, he'd travel up to London to see bluesman such as Big Bill Broonzy, Jesse Fuller and Ramblin' Jack Elliot at Ewan MacColl's folk club. "Jazz became trendy, there was a folk revival, rock'n' was an amazing explosion, really. That's how it all came about with my generation."

In the early Sixties, Wizz hit the road, inspired by the writings of Jack Kerouac and Laurie Lee and the tales of Glaswegian folk singerAlex Campbell busking to cinema queues in Paris. In the French capital he found himself among an expat community that included Rod Stewart, Davey Graham and Clive Palmer.

"For a working class lad like me it was a way of seeing the world," remembers Wizz. "Soho after the war was wonderful, the same with Paris. There was a great mixture of young people, it was very exciting and very bohemian. All the black jazz musicians were there."

In Paris he also met "a great guitar player" called Ralph McTell, who he was later to invite on a tour of Cornwall. "That was the summer of '66. We've been great friends ever since," Wizz says. "He was lucky, he wrote a song (Streets of London) that changed his life. Good luck to him."

During the Sixties Wizz also formed a partnership with bluegrass banjo-player Pete Stanley, who he met while taking lessons with Ewan MacColl's partner Peggy Seeger. Wizz remembers the lessons were organised by the Young Communist Movement and the Workers' Music Association ("it was all very left-wing") and that he and Pete played together for four years. "At the time it was very influential, we opened people up to bluegrass music. Pete was like a suave Mississippi gambler, I was the rough type."

When the partnership dissolved Wizz went solo, releasing eight albums between 1969 and 1978. It was British folk music's golden age, when the likes of Fairport Convention, Steeleye Span, Ralph McTell and Pentangle had Top Ten hits. As neither strictly a folk nor blues artist, Wizz, however, found himself "difficult to categorise and hard to sell". "I'm an awkward, obstinate b****r," he concedes.

Nevertheless he did manage to find a foothold in Germany where they had "a big acoustic guitar boom". "Before the reunification there was a lot of money available for artists and for young people. You could get a lot of gigs there for reasonable money," he explained.

But then in the Eighties punk hit Germany and folk guitarists fell out of favour. Having neglected the British market, Wizz found himself struggling for gigs.

He supported himself by driving trucks for five years until folk became fashionable again thanks to television programmes, magazines such as Mojo and the cult of singer/songwriter Nick Drake.

Now Wizz is gigging around the country again. The bookings may be erratic - "I might not work for a month then I might do four in a week, it's very haphazard" - but at least he's back doing the thing he loves.

Sunbeam Records have reissued his early albums Lazy Farmer and The Legendary Me on CD, a DVD (Sound Techniques - Guitar Maestros Series 1 Wizz Jones) is now available and he occasionally performs at festivals with his saxophone-playing son Simeon.

He may be sceptical about his chances of ever being widely appreciated - "I'm always on the outside, on the fringe, that's the way it goes" - but if ever a folk guitarist was ripe for rediscovery, it's Wizz Jones.

  • Wizz Jones appears at the Topic Folk Club's next concert at The Cock and Bottle, Barkerend Road, Bradford on Thursday, November 30, starting at 8.30pm. Contact (01274) 222305 or visit or for further details.