Long John Baldry
|Long John Baldry|
Baldry in 1972
|Birth name||John William Baldry|
12 January 1941|
East Haddon, Northamptonshire, England
|Died||21 July 2005
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
|Genres||Blues, Blues-rock, Folk rock|
|Occupations||Singer – Voice actor|
|Associated acts||Blues Incorporated,
R&B All Stars, Steampacket, Bluesology, Elton John, Rod Stewart
John William "Long John" Baldry (12 January 1941 – 21 July 2005) was an English and Canadian 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.
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
Baldry grew to 6 ft 7 in (2.01 m), resulting in the nickname "Long John" (from the character Long John Silver from Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island). He was one of the first British vocalists to sing blues in clubs. 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. 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.
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. 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.
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 in 1960s Britain, homosexuality was still a criminal offense that could lead to forced medication and/or jail time.
Baldry had a brief relationship with lead-guitarist of The Kinks, Dave Davies, and supported Elton John in coming to terms with his own sexuality. 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".
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 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.
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 charts. 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.
Baldry had mental health problems and was institutionalised for a brief time in 1975. The 1979 album Baldry's Out was recorded after his release.
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. 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. 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.
Baldry had said he felt more comfortable "treading the boards" as a stage actor than in other performing venues. He first appeared in a stage play called "Big Rock Candy Mountain" and had a varied career as actor and voice actor.
- 1971 — Up the Chastity Belt as Little John
- 1975 — Dick Deadeye, or Duty Done as The Major General (voice) / The Monarch of The Sea (voice)
- 1985 — Star Wars: Ewoks as The Stranger (voice)
- 1985 — Star Wars: Droids as Proto One (voice)
- 1986 — The Great Heep as The Great Heep (voice)
- 1988 — Peter Pan: The Musical as Captain James Hook
- 1989 — Dragon Warrior as Narrator (voice)
- 1989 — Captain N: The Game Master as King Charles (voice) / Little John (voice) / Clock Man (voice) / The Poltergeist King (voice)
- 1990 — The New Adventures of He-Man as Treylus (voice)
- 1991 — Bucky O'Hare and the Toad Wars as KOMPLEX (voice)
- 1991 — Nilus the Sandman as Nilus The Sandman (voice)
- 1991 — Captain Zed and the Zee Zone
- 1991 — MacGyver as HIT Director
- 1992 — Conan the Adventurer as Ram-Amon (voice)
- 1993 — Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog as Dr Ivo Robotnik (voice)
- 1993 — Madeline
- 1994 — ReBoot as Captain Capacitor (voice) / Old Man Pearson (voice) / The Door Guardian (voice)
- 1996 — Sonic Christmas Blast as Dr Ivo Robotnik (voice)
- 1998 — Pocket Dragon Adventures
- 1998 — RoboCop: Alpha Commando as Foreign Dignitary (voice)
- 1998 — Fat Dog Mendoza as The Golden Volcano God (voice)
- 1999 — Toad Patrol as Mistle-Toad (voice)
- 1999 — Sabrina, the Animated Series as Captain Jean Lafitte (voice)
- 2002 — The Snow Queen as Rutger The Reindeer
- 2002 — He-Man and the Masters of the Universe as Azdar (Buzz Off's Pride only) (voice)
- 2003 — Ben Hur as Balthazar
He became a YouTube phemonenon due the internet meme of the line "snooping as usual I see" spoken by Baldry as Doctor Robotnik in "Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog".
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!"
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.
- (1964) Long John's Blues
- (1966) Looking at Long John
- (1967) Let the Heartaches Begin
- (1969) Wait For Me
- (1971) It Ain't Easy
- (1972) Everything Stops for Tea
- (1973) Good to Be Alive
- (1976) Welcome to Club Casablanca
- (1979) Baldry's Out!
- (1980) Long John Baldry
- (1980) Boys In The Band
- (1982) Rock with the Best
- (1983) The Best of Long John Baldry (features two previously unreleased songs 'Something You Got' and 'River's Invitation')
- (1986) Silent Treatment
- (1987) Long John Baldry & Friends
- (1987) Live - Iowa State University (released In 2009)
- (1989) A Touch of The Blues (Features the 'Long John Baldry & Friends' album with the addition of three new studio recordings)
- (1991) It Still Ain't Easy
- (1992) Midnight In New Orleans (German release that features Baldry singing 'As Long as I Feel The Spirit')
- (1993) On Stage Tonight - Baldry's Out!
- (1997) Right To Sing The Blues
- (1999) Long John Baldry Trio-Live
- (2002) Remembering Leadbelly
Appearances On Other Albums
- (1962) R&B From The Marquee (1964) (Baldry sings on tracks 2, 7, 11, 12, and 13)
- (1964) The Steampacket: The First R&B Festival (Tracks 6 and 12 only)
- (1965) Steampacket: The First Super Group
- (1971) Every Picture Tells a Story (Track 2 only)
- (1973) Mar y Sol: The First International Pop Festival (Sings 'Bring My Baby Back' this track is part of the additional material on the 2005 'Everything Stops For Tea' reissue)
- (1975) Dick Deadeye: Soundtrack (Baldry provided the voice of The Monarch of The Sea and sings as the character on this album)
- (1975) Sumar á Sýrlandi (Rare album of the Icelandic group 'Stuðmenn' that features Baldry singing 'She Broke My Heart')
- (1996) Bone, Bottle, Brass or Steel (Track 2 only)
- (1996) Born To Fly: Theatre In The Sky Performance (Baldry sings one track and helps narrate another)
- (1997) Jimmy Witherspoon with The Duke Robillard Band (Track 7 only)
- (1997) Stony Plain - Absolute Blues 2 (Compilation that features an unreleased version of 'Black Girl' sung with Kathi McDonald)
- (1998) You Got The Bread... We Got The Jam (Tracks 2, 3, 6, 9, and 11)
- (1999) Come Sing With Us - A Collection of Children's Folk Songs (Track 10 only)
- (2000) Carlo Little Allstars - Never Stop Rockin' (Tracks 2 and 6 only)
- (2001) The Best of Pooh and Tigger Too (Track 18 Only)
- (2005) The British Blues All Stars: Live at Notodden Blues Festival (Tracks 6, 7, 11, and 12. These are Mr. Baldry's last recorded performances)
- (2006) Saturday Night Blues: 20 Years (CBC; Baldry sings an acoustic version of "It Ain't Easy")
TV / DVD
- (1985) Long John Baldry: Rockin' The Blues
- (1987) Long John Baldry: It Ain't Easy – Live at Iowa State University (Released: 2005)
- (1993) Ohne-Filter Musik Pur - Long John Baldry: Live In Concert
- (1993) Leverkusen Blues Festival '93
- (1993) Long John Baldry Live at The Waterfront Blues Festival
- (1997) Leverkusen Blues Festival '97
- (1998) Long John Baldry: Café Campus Blues
- (2001) Happy Birthday Blues: Long John Baldry & Friends
- (2005) Montreal Jazz Festival featuring Long John Baldry
- (2007) Long John Baldry - In The Shadow of The Blues
- Bob Brunning (1986) Blues: The British Connection, London: Helter Skelter, 2002, ISBN 1-900924-41-2
- Bob Brunning, The Fleetwood Mac Story: Rumours and Lies - Omnibus Press, 2004, foreword by B.B.King
- Dick Heckstall-Smith (2004) The safest place in the world: A personal history of British Rhythm and blues, Clear Books, ISBN 0-7043-2696-5 - First Edition: Blowing The Blues - Fifty Years Playing The British Blues
- Christopher Hjort Strange brew: Eric Clapton and the British blues boom, 1965-1970, foreword by John Mayall,Jawbone (2007)ISBN 1-906002002
- Paul Myers: Long John Baldry and the Birth of the British Blues, Vancouver 2007 - GreyStone Books
- Harry Shapiro Alexis Korner: The Biography, Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, London 1997, Discography by Mark Troster
- 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.
- 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)
- 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)
- YouTube clip of part of this performance, uploaded 31 July 2009; accessed 8 October 2011
- "The Making of a Legend" by Rod Stewart at LongJohnBaldry.com, originally published in Reader's Digest, December 2004.
- 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.
- Originals, Long John Baldry. BBC. 2 May 2009
- Mark Kowalk, Pioneering gay blues musician Long John Baldry dies Xtra! West 4 August 2005; www.xtra.ca.
- Burnett, Richard (4 August 2005). "Sugar bear". Ottawa Express. Retrieved 22 August 2007.
- "Someone Saved My Life Tonight" ~ AllMusic.com
- Procolharum.com, Radio Azzurra
- Myers, Paul (2007). It Ain't Easy: Long John Baldry and the Birth of the British Blues. ISBN 1-55365-200-2.
- YouTube clip of Baldry interview from 1997 (program title unknown); uploaded 3 February 2009; accessed 8 October 2011
- 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).
|Wikinews has related news: Legendary bluesman Long John Baldry dead at 64|
- Official website
- Musical Tree ~ JohnBaldry.com (Baldry band memberships)
- Profile at GTA agency
- London (Ontario) Free Press report of death published 23 July 2005
- Long John Baldry ~ VH1 profile
- Long John Baldry: Biography ~ AllMusic.com
- Billboard report on Baldry's death 22 July 2005
- Long John Baldry at the Internet Movie Database
- Long John Baldry and The Marquee Club
- It Ain't Easy: Long John Baldry and the Birth of the British Blues (Paperback)
- Long John Baldry: In the Shadow of the Blues (documentary)
- Long John Baldry at Find a Grave