PAUL JONES PROFILED: Can sing, can act . . . can do

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PAUL JONES PROFILED: Can sing, can act . . . can do

Paul Jones has enjoyed a remarkable career in and – most rewardingly -- out of pop music.

After only three and a half years with the Sixties band Manfred Mann, during which he sang their chart hits, Do Wah Diddy, If You Gotta Go and Pretty Flamingo, Jones walked away and into a solo career (hits High Time, I've Been a Bad Boy (which was used in the film Privilege in which he starred) and Thinkin' Ain't For Me.

“Yes, I'm forced to remind people I’ve been in the business for over 30 years,” he told me in '99, “and was only in Manfred Mann for a little over 10 per cent of my career. I enjoyed almost all of it - and I'm enjoying it more since we got back together again.”

paul3The band reformed in the early Nineties – without founder and keyboard player Manfred Mann however – and toured successsfully as the Manfreds. And while Jones conceded tribute bands and those with dodgy “original” line-ups cause suspicion in the marketplace, he pointed out the Manfreds were the real thing.

In fact, almost more so.

With the exception of Mann, the original line-up was there -- plus singer Mike D`Abo who joined Manfred Mann on Jones’ departure and took them on to even greater pop heights with Just Like a Woman, Ha! Ha! Said the Clown, The Mighty Quinn and Fox on the Run.

And Jones’ assessment they might all be better musicians then was perhaps borne out by their careers after Manfred Mann: Tom McGuiness formed the Blues Band with Jones in 1979 after a stint with McGuiness Flint (which included Benny Gallagher, now of the Manfreds) and wrote for Mary Hopkins amongst others; Mike Vickers worked as musical director for Cliff Richard, Ella Fitzgerald, Cilla Black and others; Mike Hugg wrote film scores and did solo albums.

In the parlance of the Sixties, the Manfreds was a supergroup – which formed in '92 when McGuiness gave himself a 50th birthday present of inviting everyone from every band he’d been in to play in a pub party.

Only Eric Clapton (who’d been in the pre-Mann Roosters) and Mann himself didn’t make it.

“We got back in the dressing room and sat grinning at each other,” Jones said, “and somebody said, ‘You know we can`t leave this here, don’t you?' And gradually it built up into what it has now become.”

Jones had quit music after a tour of Australia and New Zealand as a solo artist in the late Sixties with the Who and the Small Faces “because there were certain excitements which were nothing to do with music!"paul2

On returning to London he was invited to perform in two one-act plays: “The audition exercise involved reciting Do Wah Diddy Diddy with the intention of whipping up a crowd of political activists. I dived in; tremendous fun.”

And he never looked back: a season in the West End then Broadway with Conduct Unbecoming, musicals such as cats, television work (Z Cars, The Sweeney, Space 1999), presenting radio programmes on blues and gospel for the BBC, and, in 1979, forming the Blues Band.

Of as much note howevver were two cult films he appeared during the late Sixties: The Committee and Privilege.

The Committee of 1968 was a surreal Kafka-esque story about a mysterious group which calls Jones before it after he commits a “murder”. Directed by Peter Sykes, it also had music by The Pink Floyd “who had just drafted in Dave Gilmour to help them because Syd Barrett had crashed - at that time it wasn‘t intended he be a member of the group."

Privilege by Peter Watkins filmed the previous year was even darker than The Committee: on the surface it is the story of a young former borstal-boy turned pop star whose performance is to re-enact being beaten and tossed behind bars, then plead with his fans to free him.paul4

But the character is also an emotionally damaged victim of his managers in a Britain where institutions of governement and the church manipulate the citizenry. It is dark and Orwellian, yet also anticipated a pop culture when artists like Bowie and Alice Cooper would create a persona and an act.

“It’s always flattering to think you are ahead of your time,” he says of Privilege, “but I don’t think it was, it was certainly subsequently copied. It would be quite interesting to see it, then Stardust [a rock movie with David Essex]. You'd see certain similarities.

“That shouldn’t be the whole evening because you should see Elia Kazan's Face in the Crowd and Leni Riefenstahl's The Triumph of Will and you’d see those two were tremendous influences on Peter Watkins who consciously evoked those two.”

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