From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Alexis Korner (19 April 1928 – 1 January 1984), born Alexis Andrew Nicholas Koerner, was a pioneering blues musician and broadcaster who has sometimes been referred to as "the Founding Father of British Blues". A major influence on the sound of the British music scene in the 1960s, Korner was instrumental in bringing together various English blues musicians.
In 1961, Korner and Davies formed Blues Incorporated, initially a loose-knit group of musicians with a shared love of electric blues and R&B music. The group included, at various times, such influential musicians as Charlie Watts, Jack Bruce, Ginger Baker, Long John Baldry, Graham Bond, Danny Thompson and Dick Heckstall-Smith. It also attracted a wider crowd of mostly younger fans, some of whom occasionally performed with the group, including Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Brian Jones, Rod Stewart, John Mayall and Jimmy Page. One story is that The Rolling Stones went to stay at Korner's house late one night, in the early 1960s, after a performance. They entered in the accepted way, by climbing in through the kitchen window, to find Muddy Waters' band sleeping on the kitchen floor.
Although Cyril Davies left the group in 1963, Blues Incorporated continued to record, with Korner at the helm, until 1966. However, by that time its originally stellar line-up and crowd of followers had mostly left to start their own bands. "While his one-time acolytes The Rolling Stones and Cream made the front pages of music magazines all over the world, Korner was relegated to the role of "elder statesman.""
Although he himself was a blues purist - Korner criticised better-known British blues musicians, during the blues boom of the late '60s, for their blind adherence to Chicago blues, as if the music came in no other form - he liked to surround himself with jazz musicians and often performed with a horn section drawn from a pool which included, among others, saxophone players Art Themen, Mel Collins, Dick Heckstall-Smith, Dick Morrissey, John Surman and trombonist Mike Zwerin.
In the 1960s Korner began a media career, initially as a show business interviewer and then on ITV's Five O'Clock Club, a children's TV show. He also wrote about blues for the music papers, and continued his performing career especially in Europe. Apart from discovering various English musicians Korner also introduced foreign artists, such as German Wolfgang Michels, to a larger audience. Korner also wrote the liner notes for Michels' group Percewood's Onagram first album in 1969.
While touring Scandinavia he first joined forces with singer Peter Thorup, together forming the band New Church, who were one of the support bands at the Rolling Stones Free Concert at Hyde Park on 5 July 1969.
It is said that Jimmy Page found out about a new singer, Robert Plant, who had been jamming with Korner, who wondered why Plant had not yet been discovered. Plant and Korner were in the process of recording a full album with Plant on vocals until Page had asked him to join "the New Yardbirds", aka Led Zeppelin. Only two songs are in circulation from these recordings: "Steal Away" and "Operator".