Max Jones

b. Ronald Maxwell Jones, 28 February 1917, London, England, d. 1 August 1993, Chichester, Sussex, England. A jazz fan from the start of his teenage years, Jones read about the subject eagerly and sought…
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Artist Biography

b. Ronald Maxwell Jones, 28 February 1917, London, England, d. 1 August 1993, Chichester, Sussex, England. A jazz fan from the start of his teenage years, Jones read about the subject eagerly and sought out records by the many artists he grew to admire. Active as a member of jazz record appreciation societies, he also briefly played in a dance band, but very soon turned to a lifelong career as a jazz journalist. In the 40s he was editor of Jazz Music with Albert McCarthy, then became a contributor to Melody Maker, which at the time gave jazz a prominent place. From the mid-40s he was a member of the staff, remaining with the magazine for more than 35 years. During these years he reviewed countless records, attended and reviewed concerts by the hundred, and conducted interviews with numerous musicians, as often as not striking up long-lasting friendships. Together with his wife, Betty, also an ardent jazz fan, they opened their Muswell Hill house to visiting musicians and in later years he would fondly recount tales of visits by Louis Armstrong and others, and of impromptu duets by guitarists Josh White and ‘Big’ Bill Broonzy, sitting on the living room floor. The Jones’ long friendship with Billie Holiday did not lead to a visit, however. ‘I asked her why she would never come to the house, ’ Jones once delightedly recalled. ‘She told me she never visited anyone’s home. “Because the drinks don’t come fast enough and you can’t go home when you like.”’

Over the years, Jones also contributed to other magazines, including Jazz Journal International, and also to The Sunday Times. During these years he assembled a large collection of photographs, which have appeared in numerous magazines and books. Together with trumpeter-writer John Chilton he published a valuable early account of the career of Armstrong Louis: The Louis Armstrong Story. Those numerous interviews he conducted while with Melody Maker also appeared in print (sometimes uncredited, a matter he accepted with resignation) and most importantly in his book, Talking Jazz. Jones never lost his enthusiasm and as his interviews demonstrate he chose never to impose himself upon accounts of musicians and their art. Late in his life, when asked how he would describe his role in jazz, he self-deprecatingly mused, ‘I’m just a fan who was lucky enough to be asked to write about something I loved.’