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Les Braid 7/2005

July 31, 2005 – Les Braid (the Swinging Blue Jeans) was born on September 15, 1937 in Liverpool, England. Braid was an accomplished pianist by the time he left his Formby secondary school and began an apprenticeship as a cabinet maker. In 1958, he joined a skiffle group on bass, and then gravitated to the Bluegenes, who initially mixed skiffle and traditional jazz. The Bluegenes had big ambitions; they wore uniform jeans and blazers, had cards designed by teenage cartoonist Bill Tidy, and even bought a van to get to gigs.

The group’s origins go back to 1957, when singer/guitarist Ray Ennis decided to form a band. The result was a skiffle sextet called “the Bluegenes” — the latter a misspelling of “blue jeans” that remained unchanged for a couple of years. Surprisingly, Ennis had already played rock & roll, but — in a manner the opposite of many other young musicians of the time — he regarded skiffle as an advancement; equally surprisingly, given their later work, the Bluegenes were heavily jazz influenced, and stayed away from trying to cover songs associated with Elvis Presley and other American rock & rollers, preferring instead to try and emulate the horn and sax parts that they heard on their guitars.

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