Remembering Spoon - I first heard Jimmy Witherspoon back in the fifties when I came upon a jukebox single issued by the French Jazz record label ‘Disques Vogue’. The A-side was “Times Are Getting Tougher Than Tough” and the B-side was “Ain’t Nobody’s Business”. These two tracks had been taken from Spoon’s debut album “Live At the Monterey Jazz Festival” with Jay McShann and his Orchestra. This chance encounter with Spoons amazing and powerful voice in many ways changed my life. Although this era was my very beginning and formative period as a Blues performer, Jimmy became my main influence. Up till then my major gurus were Big Bill Broonzy, Muddy Waters and Leadbelly.

Gradually more and more of Spoon’s recorded output reached British stores and I bought every bit of vinyl with the name Jimmy Witherspoon on it. This was indeed my great musical hero! Spoon made the first of his many visits to Britain in the early sixties. Of course I was front row and center at all his gigs at Ronnie Scotts Club in London’s Soho (This was the old premises on Gerrard Street predating the current Frith Street location). Jimmy and I became close friends at this time through the good graces of Downbeat Magazine. He and I were invited to do a “Name That Tune” segment for the magazine. I suggested Spoon and the Downbeat gang come over to my house for tea and play the music for us (Spoon and I) to guess titles and artists. Amazingly, we guessed every item correctly and I think we scored 10 out of 10. Since then we bumped into each other all over the world - a few times in Toronto, a lot in Los Angeles, sometimes in New York, many, many times in London and of course here in my adopted city of Vancouver. Vancouver was the last place I saw Spoon when we recorded a gig together with handsome accompaniment from Duke Robillard and his guys. Spoon, we had a long journey together and I have still yet to complete my last miles, but I shall be seeing Robben Ford in October over in Europe and I’ll be sure to say “This one’s for Spoon!” when we play “Ain’t Nobody’s Business”. - Long John Baldry/Sept/03
MP3- Baldry and Spoon- Times Gettin' Tougher Than Tough - visit JIMMYWITHERSPOON.COM

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