Cyril Davies... British Blues Harp Pioneer

The Round House, 83-85 Wardour Street, Soho, London, W1D 6QD.

Birthplace of the 1960s British R&B Boom

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Where did musicians play and develop.
The background to the development of the London blues scene.
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No. 8385 Wardour Street: The Round House Public. From at least 1756 until 1862, this public house at the south corner of Brewer and Wardour Streets was known as the Blue Cross; in the latter years the name was changed to the Round House, possibly in reference to the rounded north-east corner of the building. The present building was erected in 1892; the corner still forms a rounded angle. Taken from: 'Brewer Street and Great Pulteney Street Area', Survey of London: volumes 31 and 32: St James Westminster, Part 2 (1963), pp. 116-137.

The Round House is now called The O Bar

Cyril Davies and Bob Watson set up the London Skiffle Club in September, 1955, in a first floor room at the Roundhouse pub at the corner of Wardour Street and Brewer Street. They had been playing in a small acoustic group during the interval in performances by Steve Lane's Southern Stompers traditional jazz band in the Fox and Goose in Ealing. Cyril moved from banjo to 12 string guitar during this time. It was one of the first skiffle/blues clubs.

Later Cyril and Alexis Korner changed its name to the London Blues and Barrelhouse Club. It ran until 1961.

The move to more blues music initially led to the loss of most of the skiffle fans but after a slow start the audiences in the new club grew steadily. It quickly became a focal point for the increasing numbers of blues enthusiasts who were able to see Cyril and Alexis Korner performing with UK and visiting American blues and folk performers such as Muddy Waters, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee, Big Bill Broonzy, Memphis Slim, Little Brother Montgomery, Jack Dupree, Little Brother Montgomery, Speckled Red, Derroll Adams and Rambling Jack Elliott.

The regular local performers were pianists, Keith Scott and Dave Stevens, guitarist, Geoff Bradford, Lisa Turner, banjo, and washboard player, Mike Collins. Other visitors to the club included the McEwan brothers, Long John Baldry, Davy Graham and Ralph McTell.

The BBC reported live from the club during a broadcast for the London regional programme Town and Country in 1960.

Long John Baldry revisited the pub and was interviewed there for the 2007 TV documentary on his life, In The Shadow of the Blues, just before his death.

Cyril and Alexis moved from the acoustic blues that they played and recorded in The Round House and Cyril moved to amplified harmonica similar to that played in Muddy Waters band by Little Walter and James Cotton. They started playing electric blues and within a year they had moved to the Ealing Club at Ealing Broadway (1962) where young art students like Mick Jagger and Paul Jones joined them on stage.

There was also a regular monthly folk night run by Bob Davenport which continued after Cyril and Alexis left the club. Bob's friend David Elvin did sketches of the artists. Here is a sample. The originals are quite large.

Where did musicians play and develop.
The background to the development of the London blues scene.
Back To Home Page

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