Alun Ashworth Jones

( By Ian A Anderson)

1st June 2008

Shocking news - I'm just off the phone from hearing that my oldest friend, the wonderful songwriter/ guitarist/ singer and English original Al Jones, died suddenly and unexpectedly this morning, aged 62.

I first met Al when he showed up in Bristol somewhere around 1965/66 and we instantly became mates, pretty quickly formed the trio Anderson, Jones, Jackson together (with harmonica player Elliot Jackson). We took up residency at the Bristol Troubadour when it opened and also regularly made trips up to Les Cousins in London. We made both of our recording debuts with an EP together in December 1966, and both briefly moved to Notting Hill in London in '68/'69 as we were heavily involved in the blues boom at the time - Al's Searching The Desert was a standout on the Matchbox Days compilation of British folk bluesers of that era.

Al became good friends with Pentangle's John Renbourn who helped introduce him around, and in 1969 he made his first album Alun Ashworth Jones for Parlophone with producer Sandy Roberton, who was building a roster of artists also including fellow Bristol residents Keith Christmas and Shelagh MacDonald. Al's major label experience wasn't a happy one, so I produced his second album Jonesville for our then Village Thing label in 1972.

Around this time Al decided to head in the opposite direction to the music business and moved to Cornwall, where he briefly became a coastguard, whilst still playing sporadic gigs and tours (like many of us at that time, over in mainland Europe, Belgium and Germany in particular).

He was also developing the Ashworth range of instrument pickups which became his main business, and later, with guitar maker Nigel Thornbory, the extraordinary little rubber-stringed Ashbory basses, much sought after by session musicians and still made under licence by Fender.

He never stopped playing and writing though, and I was pleased to issue a later album of his, Swimming Pool on our Weekend Beatnik label in 1998. He continued gigging locally in Cornwall: we played together again at my birthday party last July.

All his early works - the first two albums, tracks from compilations, live recordings and even something from our EP were released as the double CD All My Friends Are Back Again by Castle just last year. Hearing it all again really brought it home what an original guitarist and supremely clever songwriter he was (including, frankly, a couple of the best Beatles songs they never wrote . . )

Al had re-married a couple of years ago, to the wonderful Linda who was a perfect soul mate, sharing Al's unique sense of humour. Big thoughts are with her. Al is survived by his three children Emily, Rosie and Jake from his first marriage to Lesley.

Ian Anderson

Editor: fRoots Magazine