In February 2007, the Mannish Boys were set to begin production on their third release, “Big Plans” in a little studio located in North Hollywood, California. Accompanying pianist Leon Blue on his drive out from Las Vegas was a friend rumored to possess the ability to sing like B.B. King, Howlin’ Wolf and Bobby “Blue” Bland. As the band went to work and the hours passed by, this mysterious guest patiently waited for his opportunity to reveal his well-concealed talents. Later that evening when legendary Chicago blues guitarist Jody Williams arrived, Williams exclaimed as he walked through the door, “Bobby Jones!” and Jones replied, “Jody Williams!” and a star was reborn.
Bobby Jones was raised on a 50-acre farm outside Farmerville, Louisiana and grew up singing gospel music in the church choir. At the age of sixteen, Jones forged documents to pass for twenty in order to join the U.S. Army and escape life on the family farm. After receiving an honorable discharge at his father’s insistence he later relocated to Chicago in 1959, and it was there that his musical career began to materialize. Jones performed in many of the popular clubs of the day on the South Side of Chicago including Pepper’s Lounge, Theresa’s and the Trocadero, but his first big break came when he was asked to replace Junior Wells in the Aces after Wells’ immediate departure motivated by hitting it big with his song, “Messin’ with the Kid.”
During the ‘60s and ‘70s Bobby Jones recorded sporadically for various labels in Chicago, including Vee-Jay, U.S.A., Expo, Capri, and Lionel, and decades later enjoyed a brief resurgence on the Southern Soul market, changing the spelling of his last name from Jones to Jonz. But real success always seemed to elude him. Upon hearing his spontaneous audition on a Howlin’ Wolf song during the recording of the Mannish Boys’ “Big Plans,” however, it seems Jones’ luck was about to change. Delta Groove label head, Randy Chortkoff, promptly offered Jones a recording contract and it wasn’t long before this previously elusive vocalist had joined the ranks of the Mannish Boys and was appearing on international stages around the world.
“Comin’ Back Hard” was recorded during the very same sessions that produced the critically-acclaimed 2008 Mannish Boys release, “Lowdown Feelin’,” and was released the following year. In addition to the Mannish Boys, Jones is backed by special guests Al Blake, Lynwood Slim, Junior Watson and Fred Kaplan, all of whom help assist Jones in tackling classic material by Hank Ballard, Willie Dixon, Ike Turner, George “Harmonica” Smith and Junior Parker, among others. The All Music Guide awarded “Comin’ Back Hard” with four stars declaring, “The richness of his solid, soul-sending voice is, in many ways, beyond compare, both in a retro and contemporary vein. Frankly, there are few singers who can match what he is putting down on this, his way-overdue debut as a leader.” Jones later appeared on the Mannish Boys’ fifth anniversary recording, “Shake for Me,” in 2010.