Saturday, 29 October 2016

Londons unknown musical gems #1 - Johnny Mars - Blues legend

The Mighty Johnny Mars
A new occasional series on the Barnet Eye. We'll be covering London Musical gems, who never really "made it", but for a period were the hottest acts in town. I have chosen to start with Johnny Mars. I used to see Johnny Mars back in the 1980's with his blues band. They were the best pub/club band in town. Johnny hails from South Carolina and spent the late 1960's playing around the states. In his words "playing Woodstock before it was Woodstock". Anyone who was a good friend of mine in the 1980's would have been dragged screaming to see Johnny. They were never dragged a second time! For me he was the epitome of what a Blues band should be. Then he seemed to disappear.

On Wednesday, I got in touch with Robert Elms on his Notes and Queries to ask what happened. I'd tried googling him, but in the sands of time misspelt his name (adding an extra r) so I hadn't found anything. Sure enough, we got the full story (you can listen here - I am on between 10 and 10:30 and the answer was after 12:00 - A member of Johnnys band called up as did several friends. Even better, on Thursday the man himself called Robert. It was a great interview - it was on at 11:50 ( ) Johnny now lives in Devon but is still a very active musician. It is well worth a listen.

You can find out more about Johnny at his website. I have put together a short playlist on Spotify as an introduction for those of you who haven't heard of him. If you are partial to a little bit of blues and harmonica, he really is the man!

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