Long John Baldry

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Long John Baldry
Long John Baldry photo 1972.jpg
Baldry in 1972
Background information
Birth name John William Baldry
Born (1941-01-12)12 January 1941
East Haddon, Northamptonshire, England[1]
Died 21 July 2005(2005-07-21) (aged 64)
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Genres Blues, blues rock, folk rock
Occupation(s) SingerVoice actor
Years active 1957–2005
Labels Warner
Associated acts Blues Incorporated,
R&B All Stars, Steampacket, Bluesology, Elton John, Rod Stewart
Website JohnBaldry.com

John William "Long John" Baldry (12 January 1941 – 21 July 2005) was an English blues singer and a voice actor. He sang with many British musicians, with Rod Stewart and Elton John appearing in bands led by Baldry in the 1960s. He enjoyed pop success in the UK where Let the Heartaches Begin reached No. 1 in 1967 and in Australia where his duet with Kathi McDonald You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin' reached number two in 1980. Baldry lived in Canada from the late 1970s until his death; there he continued to make records and do voiceover work. One of his best known roles in voice acting was as Dr. Robotnik in Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog.

Early life[edit]

Baldry's birth was registered in Brixworth Registration District in the first quarter of 1941. This District includes East Haddon so it appears certain that this was his birthplace. His mother's maiden name was Parker. His early life was spent in Edgware, Middlesex where he attended Camrose Primary School until the age of 11, after which he attended Downer Grammar School. Just before his death, he attended the school's 40th anniversary celebrations.

Blues bands of the 1960s[edit]

Baldry grew to 6 ft 7 in (2.01 m), resulting in the nickname "Long John". He was one of the first British vocalists to sing blues in clubs.[citation needed] Baldry appeared quite regularly in the early '60s in the Gyre and Gymble coffee lounge, around the corner from Charing Cross railway station, and at the Brownsville R. & B. Club, Manor House, London, also "Klooks Kleek" (Railway Hotel, West Hampstead). He sometimes appeared at Eel Pie Island on the Thames at Twickenham and at the Station Hotel in Richmond, one of the Rolling Stones' earliest venues.

In the early 1960s, he sang with Alexis Korner's Blues Incorporated, with whom he recorded the first British blues album in 1962, R&B from the Marquee. At stages, Mick Jagger, Jack Bruce and Charlie Watts were members of this band while Keith Richards and Brian Jones played on stage, although none played on the R&B at the Marquee album.[2] When The Rolling Stones made their debut at the Marquee Club in July 1962, Baldry put together a group to support them. Later, Baldry was the announcer introducing the Stones on their US-only live album, Got Live If You Want It!, in 1966.

Baldry became friendly with Paul McCartney after a show at the Cavern Club in Liverpool in the early 1960s, leading to an invitation to sing on one of The Beatles 1964 TV specials, Around The Beatles. In the special, Baldry performs "Got My Mojo Workin'" and a medley of songs with members of The Vernons Girls trio; in the latter, the Beatles are shown singing along in the audience.[3][4]

In 1963, Baldry joined the Cyril Davies R&B All Stars with Nicky Hopkins playing piano. He took over in 1964 after the death of Cyril Davies, and the group became Long John Baldry and his Hoochie Coochie Men featuring Rod Stewart on vocals and Geoff Bradford on guitar. Stewart was recruited after Baldry heard him busking a Muddy Waters song at Twickenham station after Stewart had been to a Baldry gig at Eel Pie Island.[5] Long John Baldry became a regular fixture on Sunday nights at Eel Pie Island from then onwards, fronting a series of bands.

In 1965, the Hoochie Coochie Men became Steampacket with Baldry and Stewart as male vocalists, Julie Driscoll as the female vocalist and Brian Auger on Hammond organ. After Steampacket broke up in 1966, Baldry formed Bluesology featuring Reg Dwight on keyboards and Elton Dean, later of Soft Machine, as well as Caleb Quaye on guitar. Dwight adopted the name Elton John, his first name from Dean and his surname from Baldry.[6]

Baldry was openly gay during the early 1960s, at least amongst his friends and industry peers. However, he did not make a formal public acknowledgement of this until the 1970s—possibly because until 1967 in Britain, homosexuality was still a criminal offence that could lead to forced medication and/or jail time.

Baldry had a brief relationship with lead-guitarist of The Kinks, Dave Davies,[7][8] and supported Elton John in coming to terms with his own sexuality.[7][9] In 1978 his then-upcoming album Baldry's Out announced his formal coming out, and he addressed sexuality problems with a cover of Canadian songwriter Bill Amesbury's "A Thrill's a Thrill".[10]

Solo artist[edit]

In 1967, he recorded a pop song "Let the Heartaches Begin" that went to number one in Britain, followed by a 1968 top 20 hit titled "Mexico", which was the theme of the UK Olympic team that year. "Let the Heartaches Begin" made the lower reaches of the Billboard Hot 100 in the US.

Bluesology broke up in 1968, with Baldry continuing his solo career and Elton John forming a songwriting partnership with Bernie Taupin. In 1969, Elton John tried to commit suicide after relationship problems with a woman. Taupin and Baldry[11] found him, and Baldry talked him out of marrying the woman, helping make Elton John comfortable with his sexuality. The song "Someone Saved My Life Tonight" from Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy was about the experience.[12]

In 1971, John and Stewart each produced one side of It Ain't Easy which became Baldry's most popular album and made the top 100 of the US album chart. The album featured "Don't Try to Lay No Boogie Woogie on the King of Rock and Roll" which became his most successful song in the US. Baldry's first tour of the US was at this time. The band included, Micky Waller, Ian Armitt, Pete Sears, and Sammy Mitchell. Stewart and John would again co-produce his 1972 album Everything Stops For Tea which made the lower reaches of the US album charts. The same year, Baldry worked with ex-Procol Harum guitarist Dave Ball.[13]

Baldry had mental health problems and was institutionalised for a brief time[14] in 1975. The 1979 album Baldry's Out was recorded after his release. He played live at Zolly's nightclub in Oshawa, underneath the Oshawa Shopping Centre, shortly after releasing Baldry's Out. In a 1997 interview with a German television program, Baldry claimed to be the last person to see singer Marc Bolan before Bolan's death on 16 September 1977, having conducted an interview with the fellow singer for an American production company, he says, just before Bolan drove away and had his accident.[15]

Canadian citizenship[edit]

After time in New York City and Los Angeles in 1978, Baldry settled in Vancouver, British Columbia, where he became a Canadian citizen. He toured the west coast, as well as the U.S. Northwest. Baldry also toured the Canadian east, including one 1985 show in Kingston, Ontario, where audience members repeatedly called for the title track from his 1979 album Baldry's Out! – to which he replied, "I'll say he is!"[citation needed]

In 1979, he teamed with Seattle singer Kathi McDonald to record a version of The Righteous Brothers' "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin", following which McDonald became part of his touring group for two decades. The song made the lower reaches of the US Billboard charts but was a top 5 hit in Australia in 1980. He last recorded with the Stony Plain label. His 1997 album Right To Sing The Blues won a Juno Award in the Blues Album of the Year category in the Juno Awards of 1997.

He played his last live show in Columbus, Ohio, on 19 July 2004, at Barristers Hall with guitarist Bobby Cameron. The show was produced by Andrew Myers. They played to a small group, some came from Texas.[citation needed][14] Two years previously the two had a 10-venue sell-out tour of Canada. Baldry's final UK Tour as 'The Long John Baldry Trio' concluded with a performance on Saturday 13 November 2004 at The King's Lynn Arts Centre, King's Lynn, Norfolk, England. The trio consisted of LJB, Butch Coulter on harmonica and Dave Kelly on slide guitar.[16]

Death[edit]

Baldry died on 21 July 2005, in Vancouver General Hospital, of a severe chest infection. He was survived by his partner, Felix "Oz" Rexach,[17] a brother, Roger, and a sister, Margaret.[10]

Discography[edit]

Albums[edit]

Year Title Label Cat. No.
1964 Long John's Blues United Artists ULP 1081
1966 Looking At Long John United Artists ULP 1146
1968 Let the Heartaches Begin Pye Records NPL 18208
1969 Wait For Me Pye Records NSPL 18366
1971 It Ain't Easy Warner Bros. WS 1921
1972 Everything Stops for Tea Warner Bros. WB 46 160
1973 Good To Be Alive GM Records GML 1005
1976 Welcome To Club Casablanca Casablanca Records NBLP 7035-V
1979 Baldry's Out! EMI Capitol ST 6459
1980 Boys In The Band Quality Records SV 2068
1980 Long John Baldry EMI Capitol SW 17038
1982 Rock With The Best EMI Capitol ST 6490
1982 The Best Of Long John Baldry EMI Capitol SN 66124
1986 Silent Treatment Musicline Records ML 000l
1986 Long John Baldry & Friends Musicline Records ML 0002
1989 A Touch of the Blues Musicline Records ML 0005
1991 It Still Ain't Easy Stony Plain Records / Hypertension-Music SPCD 1163 / HYCD 200 122
1993 On Stage Tonight - Baldry's Out! Stony Plain Records / Hypertension-Music SPCD 1192 / HYCD 200 135
1995 A Thrill's A Thrill: The Canadian Years EMI S22Z 29609
1996 Right To Sing The Blues Stony Plain Records / Hypertension-Music SPCD 1232 / HYCD 296 167
1998 Let The Heartaches Begin: The Pye Anthology Sequel Records 42298
1999 Evening Conversation Stony Plain Records / Hypertension-Music SPCD 1268 / HYP 0191
2001 Remembering Leadbelly Stony Plain Records SPCD 1275
2005 Boogie Woogie: The Warner Bros. Recordings Rhino Handmade RHM2 7896
2006 Looking At Long John Baldry: The UA Years 1964-1966 EMI 0946 3 5o899
2009 Live - Iowa State University 1987 Angel Air Records SJPCD310
2014 The Best Of The Stony Plain Years Stony Plain Records SPCD 1376

Singles[edit]

Year A-Side B-Side Label Cat. No.
1964 You'll Be Mine Up Above My Head United Artists UP 1056
1964 I'm On To You Baby Goodbye Baby United Artists UP 1078
1965 How Long Will It Last? House Next Door United Artists UP 1107
1966 Unseen Hands Turn On Your Love Light United Artists UP 1124
1966 The Drifter Only A Fool Breaks His Own Heart United Artists UP 1136
1966 Cuckoo Bring My Baby Back To Me United Artists UP 1158
1967 Only A Fool Breaks His Own Heart Let Him Go (And Let Me Love You) United Artists UP 1204
1967 Let The Heartaches Begin Annabella Pye Records 7N 17385
1967 Let The Heartaches Begin Hey Lord You Made The Night Too Long Pye Records 7N 17408
1968 Hold Back The Daybreak Since I Lost You Baby Pye Records 7N 17455
1968 When The Sun Comes Shining Thru Wise To The Ways Of The World Pye Records 7N 17593
1968 Mexico We're Together Pye Records 7N 17563
1969 It's Too Late Now The Long And Lonely Nights Pye Records 7N 17664
1969 Wait For Me Don't Pity Me Pye Records 7N 17815
1970 Well I Did Setting Fire To The Tail Of A Fox Pye Records 7N 17921
1970 When The War Is Over Where Are My Eyes? Pye Records 7N 45007
1971 Rock Me When He's Gone Flying Warner Bros. K 16105
1971 Don't Try To Lay No Boogie Woogie On The King Of Rock And Roll Black Girl Warner Bros. GS 45105
1971 Don't Try To Lay No Boogie Woogie On The King Of Rock And Roll Mr. Rubin Warner Bros. WB.16099
1972 Iko Iko Mother Ain't Dead Warner Bros. K 16175
1972 Everything Stops For Tea Hambone Warner Bros. K 16217
1972 Mother Ain't Dead You Can't Judge A Book By The Cover Warner Bros. WB 7617
1973 She Song For Martin Luther King GM Records GMS 9005
1974 Crazy Lady End Of Another Day ABC Records ABC 4016
1975 Let Me Pass High and Low Casablanca Records Casablanca 600
1976 This Boys In Love Again Song For Martin Luther King GM Records GMS 9043
1977 On Broadway On Broadway (instrumental) GM Records GMS 9045
1977 Don't Try To Lay No Boogie Woogie On The King Of Rock And Roll Tell Me Something I Don't Know Atlantic Records CATX 40011
1979 You've Lost That Loving Feeling Baldry's Out EMI Capitol 006-86113
1979 A Thrill's A Thrill Baldry's Out EMI Capitol EA 103
1979 A Thrill's A Thrill Find You EMI Capitol 1A 006-860571979
1979 Come And Get Your Love Lonely Nights EMI Capitol 72808 1979
1980 (Walk Me Out In The) Morning Dew I Want You, I Love You EMI Capitol 006-86329
1980 Any Day Now Work For Me EMI Capitol 72841
1981 Too Late For Crying 25 Years Of Pain EMI Capitol 72874
1982 Stay The Way You Are Midnight Show EMI Capitol 72878
1985 The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore Mystery To Me Line Records LS 1.00005
1986 Silent Treatment Our Love Is In Limbo Musicline Records MLS 002
1986 The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore Carnival Musicline Records MLS 003
1986 Ain't That Peculiar Spoonful Musicline Records MLS 004
1987 This Is Japan When The World Doesn't Love You Musicline Records MLS 005
1987 Silent Treatment A Life Of Blues Pläne Records B-4791

CD Singles[edit]

Year Title Label Cat. No. Notes
1992 Midnight In New Orleans Hypertension Music HYCDS 100 103 Features three exclusive live tracks from 1992
1995 ...Some Thrills EMI DRPO 1132 5 track promo with a previously unreleased version of 'Passing Glanes'

EPs[edit]

Year Title Tracks Label Cat. No.
1965 Long John's Blues EP Dimples / Hoochie Coochie Man / My Baby / Times Are Getting Tougher Than Tough United Artists UEP 1013
1967 Cuckoo EP Cuckoo / You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin' / Stop Her On Sight (SOS) / Bring My Baby Back To Me United Artists UEP 36.108

Unreleased Demos[edit]

Year Title
1959 Gallows Pole
1962 How Long Blues
1970 Madame (ATV Kirshner)
1979 Rainbow
1984 Run Through The Jungle

Appearances On Other Albums

TV Specials

Acting[edit]

LONG JOHN BALDRY’S acting career! "To break up the boredom of watching TV at home in Muswell Hill, Baldry accepted the invitation of his friend, director Joan Littlewood, to make his West End debut in the rural blues-themed stage musical Big Rock Candy Mountain. The show had been written by Alan Lomax-the son of John Lomax, the man who discovered Leadbelly-and for Baldry going to work every night at the Joan Littlewood theatre to celebrate the msic he loved seemed like a holiday. The gig was challenging for him, though, as he told Chris Salewicz: “I’ve played the Palladium in front of the Queen, but I was shitting myself going out in front of five hundred children.” Baldry had always been a theatrical performer, and he was more than happy to act like someone else from time to time. He’d expressed his interest in movies and TV to interviewer George Tremlett in 1968, and since then he had made his screen debut as “Little John” in comedian Frankie Howard’s Robin Hood farce, Up The Chastity Belt. Although he was eager to act in more movies, he told Melody Maker’s Roy Hollingworth that he didn’t much care for the hours. “Great fun, but you have to get up early,” said Baldry. “One morning I had to be up at six, and doing a fight scene with John Gorman. Wow!” Andrew Loog Oldham says he always felt that Baldry was first and foremost an actor. “John could have done any kind of theatrical thing,” he suggests, “but he happened to have adopted the blues idiom because he loved it.” in 1972, Baldry had said much the same thing in the Melody Maker. “Theatre and rock is something I’ve always believed in,” he told Roy Hollingworth. “At heart, I’m an actor, far more than anything else. No matter where I’ve sung throughout the world, when I get on the wooded boards… the pressing of two thousand people against you, and the smell of those old, old boards. Its then that I’m home.” In 1975, foreshadowing the vocation he would take up in his later years, Baldry lent his voice to the animated feature film Dick Deadeye, produced by Peanuts animated Bill Melendez and based upon drawings by Ronald Searle." - Paul Myers, It Ain't Easy, Long John Baldry & The Birth Of The British Blues.

Acting Credits

Bibliography[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Conflicting evidence exists Baldry's birthplace. Earlier editions of this article stated that he was born in the village of Haddon. VH1's profile of Baldry states he was born in the village of East Maddon, while Allmusic.com states he was born in London. The documentary Long John Baldry: In the Shadow of the Blues states that his mother escaped London during The Blitz to give birth in Northampton, making East Haddon his most likely birthplace.
  2. ^ Heckstall-Smith, Dick and Grant, Pete. Blowing the Blues: Fifty Years Playing The British Blues. Clear Press, 2004, page 241. ISBN 1-904555-04-7. (R&B From The Marquee lineup)
  3. ^ Around the Beatles, Associated-Rediffusion Television (UK), first broadcast 6 May 1964; DVD release in several editions, including Beatles Around the World (RBC Entertainment, 2003)
  4. ^ "Long John Baldry & the Beatles, I've Got My Mojo Workin". YouTube. 2009-07-31. Retrieved 2014-03-06. 
  5. ^ "The Making of a Legend" by Rod Stewart at LongJohnBaldry.com, originally published in Reader's Digest, December 2004.
  6. ^ Who's Who in Contemporary Gay and Lesbian History: From World War II to the Present Day: Elton John. Routledge UK, 2002, Page 214. ISBN 0-415-29161-5.
  7. ^ a b "Originals, Long John Baldry". BBC. 2 May 2009 
  8. ^ "(Featuring Long John Baldry)". Blues Underground Network. Retrieved 2014-03-06. 
  9. ^ "Long John Baldry - Biography". The Marquee Club. Retrieved 2014-03-06. 
  10. ^ a b Mark Kowalk, Pioneering gay blues musician Long John Baldry dies Xtra! West 4 August 2005; http://www.xtra.ca.
  11. ^ Burnett, Richard (20 July 2012), Three Dollar Bill (column), "Sugar Bear" (prior versions of 2007 and 2005 archived at hour.ca). Retrieved 4 November 2014.
  12. ^ Mike DeGagne. "Someone Saved My Life Tonight - Elton John | Listen, Appearances, Song Review". AllMusic. Retrieved 2014-03-06. 
  13. ^ "Dave Ball talks to Antonio Costa Barbé". Procolharum.com. Retrieved 2014-03-06. 
  14. ^ a b Myers, Paul (2007). It Ain't Easy: Long John Baldry and the Birth of the British Blues. ISBN 1-55365-200-2. 
  15. ^ "John Baldry". YouTube. 2009-02-03. Retrieved 2014-03-06. 
  16. ^ [1][dead link]
  17. ^ Rexach, a native of New York City, had been Baldry's partner for over 25 years. See Graham Rockingham (9 October 2007). "King of British blues: All hail Long John! New book on Baldry pays close attention to his years in Dundas". Hamilton Spectator.  Review of Paul Myers, It Ain't Easy: Long John Baldry and the Birth of the British Blues (Douglas & McIntyre).

External links[edit]