Memories of Chris Jones († 13.9.2005)
"Chris Jones, was by far the best guitarist I ever had the privilege of working with. Being in the studio with him was always a fantastic experience (as long as one could tolerate his terrible jokes!), because he always found a way of adding something to the songs – he would find things in the song that one, as the writer, never knew was there. He worked best with little rehearsal – just a half hour working on the song and he was ready to record.
However, I think it was in the “live” situation that he shone brilliantly. I always found that when we did a gig together, I extended the instrumental breaks because I wanted to hear what he would play – and it was always good – fresh, inventive – he could do four instrumental breaks in a song and never repeat him-self. I can’t imagine ever hearing anyone as good as Chris. He lived hard, he played hard and he made us all sound better when he played on our songs. He took life to the edge, to the limit, and he never complained.
"I write these words with the heaviest of hearts for my dear friend Chris Jones. The world has lost one of the finest musicians I’ve ever had the divine grace to meet and work with, and I can only be forever grateful for having known him. I just can’t believe we won’t hear all the notes he hadn’t played yet, that I won’t be able to look across the studio and see him again, knowing that my music was in the best of all possible hands. A loss beyond my comprehension. I can’t even imagine those closer who have known him far longer than I.
After working in the Stockfisch studios with Chris for the second time this past June, it wasn’t hard to notice that his hard living was catching up with him, and this was the topic of my conversation with Günter on the car ride to the train station in Göttingen. We both wondered what on earth we could possibly do for our friend, but I think we both realized that Chris was caught in the eye of the storm that was his life.
Memories of this remarkable artist...April of 2003, our nightly debriefing sessions in the rehearsal room after recording all day and where jokes, stories, songs, and spirits united him, me, and Gunter in the intimacy that is shared in the love of this music, forever. Every night at some point Chris would wrap his arm around me and say “it is such a fucking honor to play on these songs with you...”.
And late in the evening of June 6th, 2005, when I’d returned to my hotel in Northeim after the last of the singing, there he was in the lobby with his laptop, a cigarette, and a beer. He closed his computer, bought me (and himself) beer after beer and we talked and laughed for three hours.
"When I think of Chris, I can't think of him as gone because so much of him is still here. His old baseball cap, his picture on the wall playing the dobro at Gaste Garage. The many recordings of him live on forever. His playing will live on forever. I see him at the restaurant with a book held way up in his face. I see the large stein of beer next to his feet on stage. I feel the sweat on his t-shirt as we take another bow. I hear his laugh and deep voice blowing out the doors of a pub.
Chris is like a mighty train that keeps passing through my mind and my heart and somehow I just can't say goodbye to him. We never did say goodbye on our journeys together. We just went to the next place and met up again at the next turn. Chris had a hard shell and an iron belly but was way soft on the inside. If he ever told you he loved you, he meant it. I hope our Chris is free now. Free from the lonesome roads and hotel rooms and some childhood nightmare that followed him around. Not only was he a great player who lived to play, he was a damn good listener.
"In 1977 when I was living in Holland, I was sitting at home one evening, having just restrung my Gibson guitar, I got a phone call from Zwolle rail station from Chris, whom I have never met or spoken to, until that moment. He needed a place to stay for a few nights until he could rendezvous with Jon Strong, for some planned gigs. I went by car to collect him from Zwolle. He walked into my house and his gaze fell upon the Gibson, “Oh! Nice guitar man!” he said, “Can I try it?” He played it for about 5 minutes talking all the time about what a beautiful instrument it was, when he put it down the brand new strings had turned green and lost all their sound! “Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you Mike, I have this really acid sweat which destroys guitar strings!”.
Chris Jones, easily the most versatile and adaptable guitarist I ever played music with; an inventor of strange tunings which provided him with a direct connection to the songs he was working with. I recorded two albums with him and of all the songs we worked on in those sessions, there was only one that he couldn’t get into and even then he came closer than anyone else! Everyone who played music with him was enriched in the process."
"I was playing at the Wild Rover last night noticing with a heavy heart that at least three of my songs have such a connection to Chris. It made me very sad. I remembered us sitting in my kitchen in Cologne and working through these songs. It took at least three days before my kitchen wasn't smelling like an ashtray anymore. :-)
He had always given such respect to my music and whenever we shared concerts he was so wanting to play a song with me. Last time was at Günter Birthday Party at "Theater der Nacht". In his music was his heart. I remember hearing him for the first time at Günters studio with his beautiful song "Long after you're gone". I was very impressed.
On my way to the gig yesterday I listened to his CD "Moonstruck". He sings "Hatred is the cancer-love is the answer". Puts a complete different meaning to it now. He was something. And he could drive you crazy you with bad jokes. :-)
And I always felt these two personalities. Someone hiding and someone bringing his soul out in his music. He had called me maybe two month ago to ask me to sing back up vocals on a new cd of his. We couldn't work out a schedule. "I'll be singing his song long after he's gone..."
"It´s taken me awhile to absorb the news of Chris´ death. It came so suddenly on the heels of his positive e-mail to us all that I felt like a weight had been dropped on my head. The world has lost a great musical talent and a good man.
I think what I appreciated most about Chris was his easy manner and playful sense of humor. When I met Chris I instantly felt as if we'd been friends for many years. We had a lot of fun together. We would trade sarcastic barbs like brothers and pull pranks in the studio like children trying to torture a substitute teacher. My fondest memory of those times was during the Powderhouse Road sessions.
Chris and I were working out arrangements in the conference room while Günter was out of the studio for the afternoon. On a whim we took all of Günter´s special beer out of the refrigerator and hid it, and grabbed all the empty bottles from the storage room and spread them around the studio as if we had been on a bender to Hell and back. There must have been forty empty bottles of beer on the table when Günter came in to find us pretending to be passed out on the floor. The look on his face was well worth the time it took to clean up!
Working with Chris was never really work - it was playing, and joking, and drinking, and playing some more. We made some beautiful, haunting music together that I will cherish for the rest of my life.
"Take yer gloves off, Leon"
"Without doubt the worst web programmer and marriage guidance councillor that ever lived, but then nobody's perfect!
Chris was undoubtedly one of the most dedicated and brilliant musicians I ever had the honour to meet. I have known Chris for well over twenty years and have played countless concerts with him and not once did we ever struggle to get through a gig, the odd audience or so, but never a gig. On the stage, in the studio and unfortunately in the bus he gave everything and more.
Our paths crossed again in April this year at a concert in Rotenburg, unfortunately we didn't really get the chance to talk as we usually would and I assume he had no idea at that stage what lay ahead, I feel now I let the last chance to tell him how much I loved him slip by, but if I know him, he's up there scrolling through this page at the minute and laughing, at the same time telling the man himself (hopefully) that it's not DADGAD.
My deepest sympathy goes to all his loved ones and children whom I know he loved and loved him. His chosen lifestyle was not exactly compatible to the happy family picture, but that was his path and although his loved ones didn't profit from it I as a musician certainly did and many more as this page shows.
So Christy, as I know you're reading this, I love you and miss you and don't give them too hard a time up there!, except of course R.J. Reynolds !!!.
Bye my friend!"
"I first met Chris on a bridge in Nuremberg in ´77 or ´78, he was buskin with a guy called William, I was on tour with Kieran Halpin and we got chatting and decided to have a few drinks and a play, simple as that, he was poached and quickly dispatched up to Amsterdam. We played as a duo and for a short time as a 5 piece band, recorded an album in Zwolle while wrecking Mike Silver's house and went on to tour all over Europe for the next 4 years or so.
There isn't the time or space here to tell all the stories, we had some spectacular rows mainly while drunk, one which actually came to blows in a student's bar in Bochum to the utter amazement of our agent Uva Kossman. The next night being interviewed after another gig a girl reporter asked how we got on, on the road, Chris pointed at my badly bruised knee, I pointed at his partly blackened eye and we laughed and bought the whole audience of about ten a drink and decided neither of us were any bloody good at fighting.
As has been said elsewhere he was phenomenally good guitar player, we very rarely rehearsed, just got on with it, beside his technical skills it was his instinct and feeling for playing behind songs which I think made him so special, whatever "it" is, he had "it", which brings me to my final short tale and I know Chris would not mind me relating it.
While recording Tim Wood's album in Leeds, Chris was complaining about a rather embarrassing itch, I took him down the dreaded „Clinic“ the doctor's diagnosis being with out a doubt the best case of Scabies he had ever seen and promptly inviting all the other student doctors and nurses to behold this magnificent wonder for which Chris blamed me, having borrowed my sleeping bag some time previously, I pointed out the fact that I hadn't contracted the said condition, an argument unresolved to this day.
Ah, if it only possible to go down the pub, drink far too many pints of lager, stagger back to my place, demolish a bottle of whisky and carry on the argument, he was a star and I will miss him dearly."
"Chris Jones was a monster guitarist. I knew him for over 25 years and in all that time I never met anyone who could play with such power and passion in one moment and such delicacy in the next. His was a rare gift.
Our relationship was carved in mutual respect. It was no accident that I invited Chris to play on 5 of my albums in the last 11 years. For me he gave more with his guitar playing than anyone I have ever known. For his part he once told a good friend that „Halpin just shits good songs!“. I will take that as a compliment.
That he could try the patience of a saint is probably without arguement among those of us who toured and travelled with him. He could be difficult and a pain in the arse - but then he probably thought the same of me! But he had a good heart and an eagerness to please and a need to be loved both musically and personally. To love him musically was easy, to love him personally was sometimes complicated.
That Chris should die so young is a tragedy for his friends and for his children - who never saw enough of him. But this was in many ways Chris’ chosen path and it led straight to the road. And Chris lived for the road.
Chris was I believe never happier than when playing his guitar - whether live on stage, in the studio or during one of his now legendary all night sessions. I shared many songs, miles and drinks with him over the years. These are memories I will cherish for the rest of my days. But I am deeply saddened by the realisation that I will never ever again have that feeling of standing on a stage with Chris and playing till my throat was sore or his fingers split. I saw him often repair his damaged left hand with Super Glue!
He gave more than most when up there doing what he loved most. Goodbye, God bless you, Chris and thank you."
"I was so saddened to hear of the death of my friend and colleague, Chris Jones. I have very fond memories of sessions with him. A German journalist, Michael Lohr, recently said of Chris, that he plays such wonderful, tasteful and powerful licks, that you get the feeling you would like to take each one, frame it and hang it on the wall. I can only wholeheartedly agree with that. He has graced and enriched so many productions with his unique playing - a great solo player and a dream sideman.
After the sessions for my last solo album, Chris and I jammed in the studio on a new song of his. Basically the song was saying if it all ends tomorrow, he's had a "damn good run". I'd like to think Chris really thought that before he died, and that he's sitting somewhere, maybe trading licks with someone like Stevie Ray Vaughn and regaling everyone with his endless (and I mean endless ....) supply of jokes. Cheers Chris - you will not be forgotten. The acoustic scene has lost one of its very best and inspiring people."