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  Jam Session's Jon Riley, guitar guru

The disgusting stink of a too-loud electric guitar.... now, that's my idea of a good time.
-- Frank Zappa


Jon with his 70's Guild F30 acoustic

Jon's music

Broonzy Stride
Improvised blues in E major.

Improvisation - 6 minutes in June
Improvisation on nylon-string guitar


The band is Stiff Joints, the most recent pic I have of the most fun band I'm in, taken in 2004 at a small festival we played in Devon. I'm on extreme right, with my beloved 60's Epi Casino. (I also play mandolin with this band.) The others are Mike Allin (bass), Dick Brooks (gtr/vcls, part-time member), Adam Roman (drums), Brian Coope (vcl/gtr/leader), Mel C. (keys, and my partner!). ...Grey-haired rock'n'rollers, doncha love 'em! :-)

Born and brought up in West London. (Stone’s throw from Alexis Korner’s Ealing Club, birthplace of Rolling Stones. Lived opposite Pete Townshend – but never knew him.)

First guitar: cheap steel-string acoustic, Xmas 1965, age 16. (Struggled to build guitars out of scrap before this. Also experimented with sound recording on tape.)

First band: jug band, bunch of schoolfriends, summer 1965. I played washtub bass.

First gig: October 1966, folk club floor spot (3 tunes, unpaid). Three of us, all on guitars (including me, strumming simple chords).

First full band gig: November 1966 (me on bass). (Lots of folk club and party gigs with this group over next 2 years. One or two actually paid!) I occasionally doubled on banjo, mandolin and washboard with this group, as well as guitar. Acquired piano in 1967 and taught myself that too.

First electric guitar: 2nd hand Hofner Verithin semi-acoustic, 1969. First amp, about a year later! A British Baldwin Burns 2x12 combo I had to get home on the tube....)

First rock band gig: 1972, party in Wimbledon. Epiphany! People danced! I discovered what music was for, and the course of my life was set...

1973-1975: Acoustic lead guitar with folk group playing mix of comedy numbers, originals and Django Reinhardt tunes. (First introduction to serious jazz – fortunately we didn’t take it too seriously.) Many gigs, some as far as Manchester. (Still a spare time occupation: I was a BBC clerk 9-5. Our violinist and later clarinet player were pros, though.)

1976-1981: Electric lead with jump jive band, “Dangerous Rhythm”.

High point of career: 1979, self-financed EP played on BBC radio several times, voted 7th best single by DJs for one week. All downhill from there...

1979-82: Studied Illustration at Art College. Used library for music theory research. Graduated with BA 1st (honours); distinction for thesis on British Punk Rock (!).

(1983-2002: main career: illustrator, cartoonist, animator.)

1981-1984: Lead guitar with 60s-style beat group (college band).

1975-2000: Lead guitar with rock-soul covers band. Various pro jazz musicians guested – on horns, keys or drums. Gigs, but no recordings. I did the horn arrangements. We also played some of my original tunes.

1988: First jazz summer school (1 week). Later, enrolled on weekly jazz workshop for first time. Guitar to begin with, but moved to electric bass soon (too many guitarists!). (Continued for most years till 2004.)

1992-2000: Lead guitar with Chicago-style blues band (my favourite genre). Great female vocalist. Keyboard player was ex-Dexy’s Midnight Runners. No success though. Badly managed (by me!)

1980s-present: Lead guitar, mandolin, keys and backing vox with covers band Stiff Joints (blues, folk-rock, rock’n’roll, originals)

1990s-present: various jazz groups, mostly on electric bass.

1999-present: Bass with Soul Operators, function band: 60s and 70s soul covers. Weddings, parties.

2003: Certificate in Music Teaching to Adults (part-time, Goldsmiths University).

2003-present: Teaching guitar: adults at evening class, kids at school; privately too.

2004-present: bass and guitar in Latin covers functions band.

2007: Associate Trinity College Licentiate Diploma in Jazz performance.

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Copyright 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 F. W. Lineberry and D. L. Keur. All rights reserved.