There has always been a strong element of continuity in the Blues – young musicians hone their skills and pay their dues by backing older artists, learning the language of the Blues, and later striking out on their own to make their own statement.
My personal school of the Blues was the Ted Cooper Band, where I learned to improvise, to `speak the language` and - most important of all - to LISTEN.
My `doctorate ` was the tour I did with the late great King Earnest, one of the great unknown heroes of the Blues. From him I learned the importance of proffessionalism and showmanship, and how to sing with your whole body and soul.
When I was first learning to play the harmonica there were no harmonica players around for me to learn from. I learned by listening to records. As a result, I ended up learning as much from guitarists, pianists and sax players as I did from harp players.
I think that helped me develop my own personal sound and style, something which is crucial for any artist.
I love the traditional Blues of the past, and have learned much from masters like Sonny Boy Williamson, Little Walter and Junior Wells, but I see no reason to re- create something that`s already been done. I think the Blues has to remain a living, vital artform, and artists should use the classic Blues as a foundation to build on, writing new songs, playing in new styles and making personal, individual statements.