The All-Stars were initially formed as a backing band for Cyril Davies after his departure from Alexis Korner's Blues Incorporated in October 1962. The original lineup was tentatively christened the Cyril Davies Blues Band and was made up of former members of Screaming Lord Sutch's group, the Savages, including Nicky Hopkins on piano, Carlo Little on drums and Rick Brown on bass. The band also featured Jimmy Page on guitar for a brief period, though he soon backed out to focus on his burgeoning career as a session musician and was replaced by Bernie Watson, another former member of the Savages.
"I went over to Eel Pie Island that night to see Sutch and the Savages as billed. In the event, members of the Savages had teamed up with Cyril Davies, from Alexis Korner’s Blues Inc., to perform as the Cyril Davies Rhythm and Blues Allstars. Cyril had been in Blues Inc., and he’d recruited members of the Savages rather than taking over from Dave Sutch."
In December 1962, Davies was in competition with Korner to recruit Long John Baldry as a second lead vocalist. Baldry played a few gigs with each band before eventually deciding to join Davies' camp in January 1963. Around this time, Davies also added female backing singers to the lineup in the form of South African vocal group the Velvettes (not to be confused with Motown trio, the Velvelettes), who had emigrated to England after touring with the musical stage production King Kong. This group was a trio made up of Hazel Futa, Patience Gcwabe and Eunice Mamsie Mthombeni after their fourth member, Peggy Phango, had left to pursue a solo career. On 27 February, the All-Stars recorded their first single for Pye Records: the original compositions "Country Line Special" and "Chicago Calling", released under the name Cyril Davies and His Rhythm and Blues All-Stars. However, Baldry and the Velvettes are not featured on these recordings.
In May 1963, illness forced the departure of Hopkins as he was hospitalised for several months. Former Blues Incorporated pianist Keith Scott was recruited in his stead, but growing tensions between Davies and the other band members meant that Brown, Little and Watson each soon left the group to be replaced by bassist Cliff Barton, guitarist Geoff Bradford and drummer Micky Waller. In August, this lineup recorded the R&B All-Stars' second single for Pye: "Preachin' the Blues", a Robert Johnson cover, and "Sweet Mary", a Lead Belly cover. As with the previous recordings, Baldry and the Velvettes are not featured. Instead, backing vocals for "Preachin' the Blues" are provided by Alex Bradford and Madeline Bell. Towards the end of 1963, Scott and Waller were themselves replaced by the group's final members Johnny Parker and Bob Wackett.
Following Davies' death in January 1964, Baldry took the helm and the surviving All-Stars lineup of Barton, Bradford, Parker and Wackett were joined by Rod Stewart to become known as the Hoochie Coochie Men. Pye Records paid tribute to Davies by re-releasing the four tracks he had recorded for them as the EP The Sound of Cyril Davies and His Rhythm and Blues All-Stars. Two more cover songs are known to have been recorded during Davies' lifetime which were later released by Immediate Records: Little Walter's "Someday Baby", first issued in 1968 on the compilation album Blues Anytime Vol. 3, and Buddy Holly's "Not Fade Away", which would remain unreleased for more than twenty years until it was included as a bonus track on the 1986 CD compilation White Boy Blues, Volume 2 (Castle Communications). These tracks were credited to Cyril Davies and the All-Stars, although it is not clear when these recordings were made, nor with which lineup(s).
By 1965, Jimmy Page had established himself as a prolific session guitarist and was signed to Immediate Records as an in-house producer. Around eighteen months after Cyril Davies' death, Page brought together Hopkins, Little and Barton to record with him and his friend Jeff Beck under the All-Stars name. Together they recorded five original tracks, with Hopkins taking the lead on "Piano Shuffle", Beck on "Chuckles" and "Steelin'", and Page on "Down in the Boots" and "L.A. Breakdown".
The first track from this session to be issued was "Steelin'", although its initial release was not credited to the All-Stars. London fashion photographer David Anthony (under the pseudonym 'Charles Dickens') had recorded a cover of The Rolling Stones' "So Much in Love" for Immediate Records, and when this was released as a single in 1965 it featured "Steelin'" as its b-side under the title "Our Soul Brother TH", also credited to Dickens. The rest of the tracks from this session would eventually get their first release in 1968, alongside "Steelin'", properly credited to the All-Stars on the Immediate compilation album Blues Anytime Vol. 3.
In June 1965, Page also invited Eric Clapton to join him in a jam session at his home studio on Miles Road, and the two guitarists recorded seven instrumental tracks together; "Choker", "Draggin' My Tail", "Freight Loader", "Miles Road", "Snake Drive", "Tribute to Elmore" and "West Coast Idea". Page and Clapton were both of the opinion that the tracks they recorded were merely rehearsals rather than complete songs, but representatives of Immediate Records soon approached Page informing him that they legally owned the publishing rights to all recordings he made as per the terms of their contract. Page reluctantly gave them the recordings of the jam session in fear of a lawsuit and was asked to clean them up by adding overdubs, which he recorded that August at Olympic Studios with a new lineup of the All-Stars. This time, the group featured members of The Rolling Stones: Mick Jagger, Bill Wyman, Ian Stewart and Charlie Watts (credited as Chris Winters), as the Stones' manager at the time was also Immediate Records' co-founder, Andrew Loog Oldham. This was seen by Clapton as a betrayal of confidence on Page's part, and greatly damaged the personal relationship between the two guitarists for years to follow.
"That was a real tragedy for me... Eric and I got friendly and he came down and we did some recording at home, and Immediate found out that I had tapes of it and said they belonged to them, because I was employed by them. I argued that they couldn't put them out because they were just variations of blues structures, and in the end we dubbed some other instruments over some of them and they came out- with liner notes attributed to me (on earlier copies) though I didn't have anything to do with writing them. I didn't get a penny out of it anyway... Stu from the Stones was on piano, Mick Jagger did some harp, Bill Wyman played bass and Charlie Watts was on drums."
Immediate Records first released these tracks alongside the All-Stars' previous recordings in 1968, spread out across their compilation albums Blues Anytime Vol. 1–3. The tracks were initially attributed simply to Eric Clapton, or Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page, although many subsequent releases have given the credit to the Immediate All-Stars.Cyril Davies and the R&B All-Stars
Note: Dates represented here are approximate, accurate only to within a month.
All releases credited to Cyril Davies and His Rhythm and Blues All-Stars.
- Cyril Davies and the All-Stars – "Someday Baby" (Little Walter cover)
- Cyril Davies and the All-Stars – "Not Fade Away" (Buddy Holly cover)
- The All-Stars featuring Nicky Hopkins – "Piano Shuffle"
- The All-Stars featuring Jeff Beck – "Chuckles"
- The All-Stars featuring Jeff Beck – "Steelin'" (a.k.a. Charles Dickens' "Our Soul Brother TH")
- The All-Stars featuring Jimmy Page – "Down in the Boots"
- The All-Stars featuring Jimmy Page – "L.A. Breakdown"
- Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page – "Choker"
- Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page – "Draggin' My Tail"
- Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page – "Freight Loader"
- Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page – "Miles Road"
- Eric Clapton – "Snake Drive"
- Eric Clapton – "Tribute to Elmore"
- Eric Clapton – "West Coast Idea"
Note: Most of these tracks were first issued as part of the 1968 Blues Anytime series, but following Immediate Records going out of business in 1970, they have been released on many compilation albums by multiple record labels, major and independent. The following list includes only those releases that feature three or more tracks, and were released by a record label that is itself notable. An exception is White Boy Blues Vol. 2, which is notable for being the first release of Davies' recording of "Not Fade Away".Notable releases