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Backstage Stars – Alan Jones

Backstage Stars
4 June 2018
Alan Jones
With more than 40 years in the music industry Alan Jones has experience as a musician, artiste manager, venue owner and independent promoter. He continues to promote shows across Wales and has ambitions to tour the world with his latest project.

 

What are your first live music memories?

“Growing up in Newport, South Wales, I started going to gigs in the early to mid-sixties. There was a venue called The Majestic Ballroom where a lot of the early Liverpool beat groups played, including The Merseybeats and Swinging Blue Jeans, plus artistes like The Tremeloes, The Yardbirds, and my favourite band Sounds Incorporated, who inspired me to take up saxophone leading to me joining a band called The Five In Hand.

“I remember seeing The Beatles supported by Roy Orbison at The Capitol Theatre in Cardiff in 1963 and The Stax Revue Tour featuring Otis Redding, Sam and Dave, Arthur Conley, Booker T and The MGs at The Top Rank in 1967.”

 

How did you get into the music business?

“While working at Mackross department store I was singing and playing sax in Five in Hand and I answered an ad for Cardiff band The Sect Maniacs, who were looking for a saxophone player. The singer of the band was Andy Fairweather Low who eventually amalgamated the two of us with five other local musicians that became The Amen Corner.

“We were signed up by Ron King Management and acquired a record contract with Deram Records and released Gin House Blues which became a hit in 1967. RK Management was then taken over by Don Arden at Galaxy Entertainments who also handled The Small Faces, The Move and The Idle Race [featuring Jeff Lynne]. We had hits with songs such as Bend Me Shape Me, which went to No. 3 in the UK charts and If Paradise Is Half As Nice, which reached No. 1.”

 

How has your career developed?

“Following my stint in the bands I joined a business selling men’s fashions called Clobber which led to rock ‘n’ roll clothing shops based in Bristol and Cardiff called Paradise Garage.

“During the mid-seventies I started to promote a lot of reggae bands in Bristol and Cardiff including Third World, Culture, Dillinger, Steel Pulse and Clint Eastwood. This was followed in 1979 by The Two Tone Tour featuring The Specials, Madness and Selector, which was mayhem.

“On the back of The Paradise Garage myself and a couple of others set up a New Romantic club in Cardiff called Neros that featured up and coming bands like Soft Cell, Depeche Mode, Pride featuring Sade and Animal Nightlife.

“In 1981 I opened a clothing store called Let It Rock on Melrose Avenue in      Los Angeles and from 1986-1990 managed the rock band LA Guns who were signed to Polygram Records in 1987, producing a million selling first album.

“The band played numerous dates all over the US including supports with Def Leppard and AC/DC, plus sold out dates in Japan.”

 

What happened next?

“On my return to the UK in 1991 I helped to set up an American themed live music venue called Gassy Jacks in Cardiff and promoted live music every night of the week featuring everything from rockabilly, country and indie to blues and classic covers. We even presented an impromptu performance by Tom Jones and his band, which was definitely a night to remember.

“This was followed by a venue in Newport called The Filling Station, presenting artistes such as Manfred Manns Earth Band and Townes Van Zandt. I also helped to set up The Point in Cardiff [500] and promoted shows there and at The Coal Exchange [900] including Robert Plant, Stiff Little Fingers, Alabama Three and Love with Arthur Lee.”

 

What have been your greatest highs and lows?

“As a maverick promoter I have opened and operated six live music venues, more recently The Globe [350] in Cardiff, that I converted from a cinema in 2008.

“I presented many great shows there including Johnny Winter, Arlo Guthrie and Mountain. Unfortunately, the venue was beset by terrible noise problems and after spending a small fortune setting up the venue and fixing the problem, eventually ran out of money to continue and had to give it back to the landlord.

“Needless to say another company with deeper pockets saw the obvious opportunity, took it over and it’s still going strong.

“In 1967 Amen Corner were asked to perform on a fifteen date tour featuring Jimi Hendrix, The Move, Pink Floyd, The Nice, Eire Apparent and Outer Limits. Watching Hendrix twice a night was amazing. Our agent was Barry Dickens now head of ITB.”

 

How do you unwind?

“I am single now but have a son and family that live in Sweden that I visit as much as possible. I love my football and watch it at every opportunity.

“I also like writing songs on my acoustic guitar and watching movies and tv dramas on Netflix.

“I am currently co-producing an album featuring a girl vocal group, The Debutantes, with all the songs written by myself. I want to travel the world touring them.”

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