Dick Heckstall-Smith

26.9.1934 -17.12.2004

He was buried at Oakfield Wood, Wrabness, Essex.

Dick Heckstall-Smith was one of the first musicians to commute successfully between jazz and blues-rock. Known for his trademark playing with two saxes – he has always been a trailblazer with groundbreaking stints with Alexis Korner’s Blues Incorporated, the Graham Bond Organization and more recently the likes of Julian Bahula in Electric Dream. He was for many years the most sought-after saxophonist on the London scene.


"...and I dug Colosseum - particularly Dick, the guy who plays tenor and soprano. Does he do sessions in London? He ought to – he's really a bitch."
(Frank Zappa)

Dick, you are indeed a bit of a dark horse hiding such a talent from us. Unbeknownst to the band, you must have been surreptitiously jotting down notes as we travelled the globe together in our mission to spread the word of the blues.

I now understand there is going to be an update added to a reprint of this wonderful book and I am happy to be able to add my little testimonial for the dedications.

I hope you continue to write more on the continuing saga and long may you blaze away on those well-worn saxophones!
(John Mayall)

As long ago as 67, during the infancy of the British rock scene, Dick and I considered ourselves as on an Island of sanity in a world gone mad. Instinctively drawn to our opposite selves, our careers have remained inextricable entwined until the present day... DHS.... a unique voice, a unique friend with a unique story to tell.
(Jon Hiseman)

When I joined John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers at the age of 17, the other guys in the band were older and had been professional musicians right from the birth of the English jazz/ blues scene.

Dick Heckstall-Smith was and still is an amazing horn player and a very charming educated man. Along with John Mayall, Graham Bond, Alexis Korner, he was one of the true original interpreters of American jazz and blues.

His influence has been enormous and he continues to influence other musicians. Two years ago I was invited to play on his latest CD and he was still playing his own fiery brand of soulful jazz and blues saxophone.

Dick Heckstall-Smith, Alexis Korner and Cyril Davies set the ball rolling; people came to the blues as a consequence of what they had done in this country and since then it has become a world wide phenomenon.

People like Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf may not have achieved their popularity here if it hadn’t been for musicians like Dick and the Rolling Stones. No one had any idea of what this music would lead to…

Dick is very lyrical and assertive, which goes back a long way to the early traditional jazz players like Sidney Bechet, who like Dick had a constant flow of ideas.

If you listen to R & B at the Marquee you can tell that by this point in time Dick was already a mature player in full possession of all his talents. Dick always plays what he wants regardless of the musical setting, he has his own identity and style.
(Mick Taylor)

Blowing The Blues


by Dick Heckstall-Smith and Pete Grant

224 pages Clear Books Paperback Original with flaps PLUS CD of previously unreleased tracks, 16 pages black & white photos + Biff cartoons 234×153 mm

ISBN: 1-904555-04-7

Dick Heckstall-Smith is the King of British Blues Saxophone. In the 60s and 70s Dick was the cornerstone of such seminal R&B bands as Alexis Korner’s Blues Incorporated, the Graham Bond Organization, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers and Colosseum. He helped pave the way for R&B-influenced rock groups like Fleetwood Mac, the Yardbirds, the Animals and the Rolling Stones.

With his pithy humor, Dick describes the revolutionary founding years of British R&B with wonderful anecdotes about Ginger Baker, Alexis Korner, Charlie Watts and the unforgettable Graham Bond. An extraordinarily entertaining book, Dick's unrelentingly honest account of his musical career also reflects on what it takes to be a full time musician, and grapples with the racism and drug abuse endemic in the music industry.

Included with the book is a CD featuring 25 minutes of previously unreleased tracks by Dick Heckstall-Smith, illustrating the sheer musical diversity of his work.

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