Alexis KornerAlexis Korner was born on 19 April 1928 in Paris, France. His father was Austrian and his mother was Greek. He lived in France, Switzerland and North Africa before moving to London in 1940. During one air raid in World War II he listened to a record by pianist Jimmy Yancey, that inspired him to play the blues.
After the war Korner learnt to play piano and guitar. His first guitar was built by his friend, the author Sydney Hopkins.
In 1949 he joined Chris Barber's Jazz Band, which also included harmonica player Cyril Davies. Korner and Davies started performing as a duo and in 1955 they started the influential London Blues and Barrelhouse Club. In 1957 they recorded their first record together. Korner made his first record in 1955, on Decca Records with Ken Colyer's Skiffle Group. He would play mandolin on one of the tracks of the EP. Korner would bring many American blues artists to Britain to perform.
In 1961 Korner and Davies formed Blues Incorporated. The group included at various times: Charlie Watts, Jack Bruce, Ginger Baker, Long John Baldry, Graham Bond, Danny Thompson and Dick Heckstall-Smith. The band would often feature a horn section that included players such as Art Themen, Mel Collins, Lol Coxhill, Dick Morrissey, John Surman, Mike Zwerin and the previously mentioned Dick Heckstall-Smith. They would also attract various other young musicians who would occasional perform with them, including Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Brian Jones, Geoff Bradford, Rod Stewart, John Mayall and Jimmy Page.
In 1962 Cyril Davies left Blues Incorporated. The band would still continue with Korner in charge till the band disbanded in 1966. Korner was a blues purist, but was critical of how the British Blues scene of the late sixties was nearly all in the Chicago blues style.
Korner's media career started in the sixties when he worked as a show business interviewer and then working on the children's tv show "Five O'Clock Club". He would also write about Blues for several music publications.In 1967 he interviewed and played alongside (playing slide guitar) The Jimi Hendrix Experience for radio show "Top Gear".
Korner jammed and was working on an album with the singer Robert Plant when Jimmy Page discovered him and asked him to join what would become Led Zeppelin.
Whilst on tour in Scandinavia he joined Peter Thorup to form the band New Church. They supported the Rolling Stones at their Hyde Park concert in 1969.
In 1970 Korner and Thorup formed the big band ensemble C.C.S, which stood for The Collective Consciousness Society. They had several hit singles, including a version of Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love" that was used as the them for the tv show Top of the Pops between 1971 and 1981. The song "Brother" was used as the theme for the BBC Radio 1 Top 20/40 and in the 1990s for Radio Luxembourg's Top 20 chart.
In 1973 Korner and Torup formed the group Snape with Boz Burrell, Mel Collins, and Ian Wallace.
Korner would play on BB King's "In London" album.
Korner released his own session album called "Get Off My Cloud" featuring Keith Richards, Steve Marriott, Peter Frampton, Nicky Hopkins and members of Joe Cocker's Grease Band.
During the mid 1970's he met bassist Colin Hodgkinson whilst touring Germany. They would continue to collaborate with each other.
In 1972 Korner presented the six part documentary "The Rolling Stones Story" on BBC Radio 1.
In 1977 he had a sunday night blues and soul show on Radio 1, which ran till 1981.
In 1978 he had a concert for his 50th birthday which included Eric Clapton, Paul Jones, Chris Farlowe, Zoot Money and others.
In 1981 Korner joined the sper group Rocket 88 which was led by Ian Stewart and featured Jack Bruce and Charlie Watts. The group would record an album and toured Europe.
Korner would also play in Italy with Paul Jones and the Blues Society of Guido Toffoletti.
Alexis Korner died on 1 January 1984.