REX Everett, affectionately known as Mr Blues, is stepping down as the head of Basingstoke Blues Club, after dedicating more than three decades to organising countless blues gigs and raising hundreds of thousands of pounds for charities.

The 75-year-old co-founder of the club, which has been a prominent fixture in the town since 1991, has made the difficult decision due to health reasons.

Although the club will continue to operate, Rex's departure marks the end of an era for the beloved institution.

Despite his stepping back, the club plans to honour Rex with a birthday bash on May 20, featuring the return of the Backbone Blues Band.

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The milestone event will take place at Basingstoke Railway Social Club from 8pm until late, with a modest £10 cash entry fee at the door.

The occasion also serves as a fundraiser for Brain Tumour Research, a cause that holds personal significance for Rex, as he lost his wife to the disease.

Reflecting on his passion for blues, Rex said: "It’s my passion just like how people talk about cricket and rugby. I can’t stand cricket and I understand rugby a little bit. Football I watch, but I’m not a great sportsman.

"Music is my passion and blues is the genre I followed since I was 15-16 since American artists started influencing this country. I was a big fan of Sonny Boy Williamson II."

Basingstoke Blues Club, founded by Rex and harmonica player Rod Garfield, began its journey with a festival held at the local hospital social club.

Its success inspired the birth of the club, with proceeds from the initial gigs supporting the hospital's appeal for pioneering keyhole eye surgery.

Basingstoke Gazette: An old magazine page featuring Rex and Rod and their Basingstoke Blues Club.An old magazine page featuring Rex and Rod and their Basingstoke Blues Club. (Image: Newsquest)

Recounting his early encounters with Rod and the birth of their friendship, he said: "We became mates, purely because I liked to drink then and he was an out-and-out alcoholic. We were and still are like brothers."

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Although the club went from strength to strength, Rod left the country a few years later and moved to Tasmania.

Throughout its existence, the club has remained committed to raising funds for charitable causes, all while keeping the vibrant spirit of blues music alive in Basingstoke.

Rex's devotion to Brain Tumour Research has been unwavering, driven by the personal loss he experienced.

Over the years, the Basingstoke Blues Club has faced challenges but has always found a way to persevere. When it neared a potential dead end, several musicians phoned Rex to ensure its continuity.

Rex's commitment to promoting young musicians has also remained steadfast, recognising them as the future of the genre.

Through the years, he has supported the careers of seven young musicians, including talents like Tommy Allen, originally from Brighton Hill, and the latest protégé, Marcus Balogun, a promising young guitarist.