Q&A with guitarist Will Johns, recognized as one of the most distinctive and exciting UK Blues performers

"It is a touching of the soul, breaking barriers and communicating the special and important things that words can often not express. I would like to think that I can remind them of their spirituality and the innate qualities of sensitivity that modern life and smart phones/screens can distract us from."

Will Johns: Bluesdaddy Top Cream

Striking a masterful balance between old soul & modern flair, Will Johns is one of the most distinctive and exciting British Blues performers in the world today.  Born in 1973, this is a man with the music in his blood, but it’s hardly surprising given his pedigree. His parents are actress/model Paula Boyd, sister of Pattie, and record producer Andy Johns (who worked with the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin and Eric Clapton), and his uncles include Eric Clapton, Mick Fleetwood, George Harrison and Glyn Johns. Will started playing the guitar as a teenager, with plenty of encouragement from Uncle Eric. Like any great musician though, it wasn’t long before Johns’ own creativity kicked-in and he soon developed his own unique sound that is both cutting-edge and steeped in blues history. Will is now a hugely respected songwriter & performer, having released three solo albums and having been nominated for ‘Best Original Blues Song’ by the British Blues Awards for three consecutive years.            (Will Johns / Photo by Adam Kennedy)

A testament to his authenticity & skill, Johns has also performed alongside luminaries such as Eric Clapton, Nile Rodgers, Ronnie Wood, Jack Bruce, Pete Brown, Mick Taylor, Glenn Hughes, Robin Ford, Dennis Chambers and Terry Reid. Particular highlights include his performance of ‘White Room’ at the commemorative concert, “An Evening for Jack” Bruce at Shepherd’s Bush Empire in 2017, as well as performing “Crossroads” alongside Uncle Eric at the 2020 Ginger Baker Memorial Concert. Will has been touring the US and the UK with The Music Of Cream with Kofi Baker. 2020 sees Will crystallizing his musical vision with “The Blues Album” in the works and an extensive US tour playing the Disreali Gears album and Clapton classics with The Music of Cream. The brand new album “Bluesdaddy” (2021) by Will Johns is out now! Characterised by a no frills approach and an obvious love, respect and understanding of the genre,  Bluesdaddy offers a collection of authentic, raw-sounding blues classics and one original – the title track.

Interview by Michael Limnios                     Will Johns, 2014 @ Blues.gr Interview

How has the Blues and Rock Counterculture influenced your views of the world and the journeys you’ve taken?

Well, It gives me a sense of comradeship and brother/sisterhood. Wherever I go there are people that appreciate the Blues in all its forms, and I am able to jam with other Musicians from just about anywhere in the world because of these strong roots. It is a common language that I am honored to be a part of and to be able to perform wherever I go. That is part of the reason I recorded my recent album "BLUESDADDY" (2021) which features classic Blues tracks that I have performed with musicians across the globe.

How do you describe your sound and music philosophy? What do you think is key to a music life well lived?

I'd like to think my sound is pretty pure and heartfelt both tonally and in delivery. Although I like to play a clever lick or run really fast and be impressive that way, I know that really its ONE NOTE played or sung just right that gets straight through to someone's heart and makes the hair on their arms or the back of their neck stand up.

Which meetings have been the most important experiences? What was the best advice anyone ever gave you?

Playing with Eric (Clapton) at the Ginger Baker tribute concert was pretty incredible. I was onstage with Nile Rodgers, Ronnie Wood, Steve Winwood, Roger Waters, Kenny Jones!! The best advice anyone ever gave was probably my Dad who once said "Keep that Puppy clean coz you never know when some fine looking woman might wanna blah blah blah..." I'll let you guess the rest!

"I'd like to think my sound is pretty pure and heartfelt both tonally and in delivery. Although I like to play a clever lick or run really fast and be impressive that way, I know that really its ONE NOTE played or sung just right that gets straight through to someone's heart and makes the hair on their arms or the back of their neck stand up." (Will Johns, Eric Clapton, Ron Wood & Nile Rodgers / Photo by George Chin)

Are there any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?

Well, there was the time these two girls were giggling in the audience front of me and I couldn't understand why?! Then I saw my fly was undone and the could almost see my winky! I was kinda embarrassed.

What do you miss most nowadays from the music of the past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of?

Well of course the music of the past was more raw and unpolluted by homogeny and political correctness!

I’m into BILLY STRINGS!! He is pretty amazing and does incredible stuff with his band of Double bass, Violin, Mandolin, Acoustic guitar and Banjo... Check him out if you haven't already. Also, I enjoy Mike Ross, his album THE CLOVIS LIMIT PT 2... and another British artist Stevie Watts Organ Trio featuring Alice Armstrong.

I hope for more and more festivals and outdoor events. Fears are of course tied in with Lockdowns and restrictions, which literally is the Devil's work and the epitome of evil.

Why do you think that the music of Cream continues to generate such a devoted following?

It's just Iconic and amazing music and each song is like a prayer. It has a psychedelic and timeless quality that is just rare as Hen's teeth!! We will be on tour in Holland and the UK in February, I am really looking forward to performing at Shepherds Bush Empire on Friday the 25th of February! We then have a long run across the United States from the 1st of April. More details at Music of Cream's site

What are some of the most important lessons you have learned from your experience in the music paths?

To be true to yourself and the music you love, Be nice to people and be nice to yourself too! Food comes before Music!! You can't make good music if you are hungry!

"I hope for more and more festivals and outdoor events. Fears are of course tied in with Lockdowns and restrictions, which literally is the Devil's work and the epitome of evil." (Will Johns / Photo by MickeyDeneher)

What is the impact of music on the socio-cultural implications? How do you want to affect people?

It is a touching of the soul, breaking barriers and communicating the special and important things that words can often not express. I would like to think that I can remind them of their spirituality and the innate qualities of sensitivity that modern life and smart phones/screens can distract us from.

Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really want to go for a whole day?

I would like to see London in 1968 on the Kings Road, see the girls and maybe go to a Cream Concert! I think that would be a real eye opener!! I would like to be in 1970's L.A, as an adult and doing adult things!! That would be more fun than I could possibly imagine!!

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