“Juvenile Delinquent”

Liner Notes

By Tony Stratton Smith


Alexis Korner wanted to revolutionise people's ability to feel and this he did, if not always directly. Like Plato (and Alexis's mother was Greek) he offered the philosophy and the texts; but it was those he influenced who conquered the world.


It is a formidable list, for it includes The Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce, Robert Plant and John Mayall. Nor, up in Liverpool, would those who became The Beatles have been deaf to the influential concerts and broadcasts at the turn of the 50's by Korner's Blues Incorporated.


We talk of The Beatles and The Rolling Stones as British growths, which is a bit like saying the Californians invented wine,' wrote Miles Kington. It was Alexis's genius to smile away the protests of these sharing his love of American urban blues, and to conjure in London a notional ghetto of feeling and sources and musicianship irresistible to the middleclass kids of the time.


‘Blues is a matter of feeling not of colour,' was his retort. He never envied those players who transmuted his ideas into more lucrative rock and roll, and was always dismissive of attempts to give him a patriarchal role. Yet there is no doubt Alexis Korner is the source of rich delight for the rock'n roll generation, its children, and the music industry.


Himself urbane rather than urban, Alexis was a boy of twelve when in 1940 he landed in England on the last boat from France. The son of an Austrian cavalry officer, he had already lived in France, Switzerland and North Africa. The easy, educated charm of the Eurocracy in him sometimes concealed the very real passion of his integrity; as performer, broadcaster and critic. He chose to respect his subject and forego any considerable reward; the lot of the academic.


When he died, Alexis was completing his first studio recordings in seven years, with his long-time collaborator and bass-player Collin Hodgkinson. In re-working Peter Sarstedt's excellent and sadly-relevant song 'Beirut' Alexis seems to be attempting an interesting synthesis of his favoured blues style and the gospel-rooted American soul which has now swept the board in black music, notably in the person of Michael Jackson (who offered praise to the late Jackie Wilson at the Grammy awards).


I was in Cyprus when I heard Alexis's uniquely abrasive voice had been silenced by lung cancer. The fierce sunset that day was itself a powerful blues. I raised a glass to the Hoochie Coochie Man; only 55, and with much left to teach us. I thank Bobbie Korner and Del Taylor for allowing Charisma to be associated with these final recordings.


Tony Stratton Smith


“Juvenile Delinquent”