THE Basingstoke Blues Club is mourning the loss of the co-founder of the club, who was once hailed by BBC Radio One blues show presenter Alexis Korner as "the best white blues harmonica player in the world".

Rod Garfield, a true blues legend and a harmonica virtuoso, died at the age of 79 at his home in Tasmania.

The sad news was shared by Rod's long-time friend and co-founder of the Basingstoke Blues Club, Rex Everett.

Rex paid tribute to their enduring friendship, which began in the late 80s when they discovered their shared roots in Peterborough and a mutual passion for blues music.

READ MORE: Mr Blues Rex Everett steps down from Basingstoke Blues Club

"When we first met, back in the late 80s, Rod told me he was from Peterborough, same as my father's family, we found our first connection," Rex said.

"Shortly after I realised his harmonica playing was the best. I quickly became an avid follower of the Rod Garfield Blues Band. We struck up a marriage-type friendship, which at times got us into trouble. By May of 1991, we decided to start the Basingstoke Blues Club."

It all started with a local festival held at the Park Prewett Hospital Social Club in 1991.

This event's overwhelming success inspired the duo to establish the Basingstoke Blues Club, with the proceeds from their gigs supporting the hospital's appeal for pioneering keyhole eye surgery.

Over the years, the club grew into a thriving hub for blues enthusiasts and a beacon of support for charitable causes.

Despite his international acclaim as a blues harmonica maestro, Rod maintained a low profile in the music industry due to his successful career as a PR and marketing consultant.

Basingstoke Gazette: Rod GarfieldRod Garfield (Image: Contributed)

However, his musical prowess was undeniable, earning him a place as a special guest at major gigs alongside Alexis Korner for over two decades.

Rod's contributions extended beyond his harmonica skills; he was a prolific songwriter, crafting several notable compositions during his career.

His impact on the blues community was further highlighted by a tribute song, The Ballad of Rod Garfield, penned and recorded by JC & Angelina.

Throughout his career, Rod was a driving force behind the Rod Garfield Blues Band.

The band was also celebrated for its philanthropic endeavours, raising £20,000 for Imperial Cancer Research at one of their charity concerts.

Rod's musical talents extended beyond his work with the band, as he was also known for his solo performances with a nine-string bottleneck guitar and his 1950 Gibson J45.

He brought his guitar to life with a repertoire that spanned traditional, contemporary, and self-penned blues, jazz, and rock.

SEE ALSO: Sherfield School sold to Education in Motion by Bellevue

In recent years, Rod had relocated to Tasmania, where he continued to captivate audiences and spread the magic of blues to a wider audience.

To honour Rod and his significant contributions to the blues community, a tribute show for a cancer charity will take place at Basingstoke's Irish Club on Saturday, November 11.

This event promises to be a heartwarming reunion of the original charity band that has supported various causes since 1991. Mark Garfield, Rod's son who works in the music industry at Abbey Road, will take up the drumsticks.

Steve Fuller, who Rod mentored in the 90s, will take the role of frontman for the tribute show on vocals and harmonica.

Iain McDougall (guitar) and Derek Alford (bass), who were in the Rod Garfield Blues Band, will also join the November 11 lineup.