A PACKED schedule of events to commemorate 60 years of guitar-based rhythm and blues begins in West London on Saturday, March 12.

The Musical Museum in Brentford is opening The British Blues Exhibition, and there is to be a screening of Suburban Steps to Rockland, a documentary about the Ealing Club, the cradle of guitar-based rock music. 

The next day, a performance by Chris Jagger and his band will be the first in a series of music events to mark the 60-year milestone.

It was in Ealing where it all began, on Saturday, March 17, 1962.

In a basement jazz club opposite Ealing Broadway station, guitarist Alexis Korner and harmonica player Cyril Davies opened the first of their R&B nights with their band, Blues Incorporated.  

The success of the Ealing rhythm and blues nights was soon being imitated all over London and the Thames Valley, where established clubs like the Marquee, the Eel Pie Hotel and Klook’s Kleek switched over from traditional jazz to the hot new sound of R&B.  

New venues opened up to follow Ealing’s lead, notably the Crawdaddy, Richmond, the Ricky-Tick, Windsor, and the Railway Hotel, Harrow. 

The Ealing Club gave birth not only to British R&B, but also to its distinctive sound.

Prototypes of the classic 'loud' Marshall JTM45 guitar amplifier were tested on audiences at the small basement club by a band that included future Jimi Hendrix drummer Mitch Mitchell. 

Many of the young players who started out at the Ealing Club went on to achieve international success, notably with The Rolling Stones, The Who, Cream and the Jimi Hendrix Experience.  

Organisers Robert Salmons and Alistair Young, of the Ealing Club Community Interest Company, have put together a programme of events to commemorate Rock’s Diamond Year in 2022.

Salmons, founder of the long-running Ealing Blues Festival said: "British rock music was the sound of the Baby Boomers finding their own voice and it sparked a musical movement that was to have a global influence.” 

Tickets for the opening event of Rock’s Diamond Year are on sale here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/rocks-diamond-year-2022-festival-opening-tickets-260286292307