Garland Jeffreys

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Garland Jeffreys
Background information
Born (1943-07-03) 3 July 1943 (age 73)
Brooklyn, New York, United States
Genres Rock and roll, Americana, reggae, blues, soul
Occupation(s) Musician, songwriter, record producer
Instruments Vocalist
Labels Atlantic Records, A&M Records, Epic, RCA/BMG, Universal, Luna Park Records
Website Official Site

Garland Jeffreys (born July 3, 1943 in Brooklyn, New York) is an American, singer and songwriter, traversing the musical genres of rock and roll, reggae, blues and soul.


Jeffreys is from Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, of African American and Puerto Rican American heritage. He majored in art history at Syracuse University where he met Lou Reed, before The Velvet Underground became active.[1] In 1966, Jeffreys began to play in Manhattan nightclubs including Gerde's Folk City, The Bitter End, Gaslight, Kenny's Castaways, and later Reno Sweeney, where he began to explore racially conscious themes in his work, sometimes utilizing blackface masks and a rag doll named Ramon in performance. Jeffreys played guitar on John Cale's 1969 debut solo album Vintage Violence and contributed the song "Fairweather Friend". In 1969 he founded Grinder's Switch with Woodstock-area musicians including pianist Stan Szelest, guitarist Ernie Corallo, and percussionist Sandy Konikoff. Lew Merenstein produced this one album before the band dissolved in 1970.

In 1973, he released his first solo album, Garland Jeffreys, on Atlantic Records. Around the same time Atlantic also released a single, "Wild in the Streets", that was not included on the album. The song did appear years later on his second album, Ghost Writer. Jeffreys wrote the song after hearing about a pre-teen rape and murder in the Bronx. Dr. John played clavinet and helped arrange the song, with backing from guitarist David Spinozza, drummer Rick Marotta, the Brecker Brothers on horns and David Peel on background vocals. After the single's rerelease in 1977, the track received airplay on the progressive FM album-oriented rock stations, and has become one of his best-known songs.

"Wild in the Streets" has become something of an unofficial anthem for the skate community and been covered by several musicians, including:

In 1977 Garland recorded his Ghost Writer album for A&M Records, with "Wild in the Streets" included on side two. All the tracks are autobiographical, encompassing bittersweet tales about coming of age as an artist in the big city ("Ghost Writer"), of racial separatism ("Why-O"), of interracial romance ("I May Not Be Your Kind"), and of overcoming conflict at home ("Cool Down Boy").[citation needed]

The next years saw a string of albums, five within five years, and the release of "Matador" (1979) which charted in the top five of a number of countries.[2] This burst of productivity culminated with Guts for Love, a meditation on the challenges of monogamy and fidelity. After a long hiatus, much of it spent woodshedding, reading and researching, Jeffreys released Don't Call Me Buckwheat, devoted to the complexities of race in America. The title was triggered by an incident at Shea Stadium where Jeffreys was enjoying the game and feeling carefree. He stood to go get a hotdog when a voice shouted "Hey buckwheat, sit down!" The casual epithet was a jolt and it spurred a number of memorable songs including "Don't Call Me Buckwheat, " "I Was Afraid of Malcolm," "Racial Repertoire." In February 1992, Jeffreys' recording of "Hail Hail Rock 'n' Roll" (RCA PB49171), spent one week at #72 in the UK Singles Chart.[3]

Jeffreys was featured in the 2003 documentary The Soul of a Man, directed by Wim Wenders as the fourth installment of the documentary film series The Blues produced by Martin Scorsese. The film explored the musical careers of blues musicians Skip James, Blind Willie Johnson and J. B. Lenoir. Jeffreys was also featured on the cover of Beyond Race Magazine in February 2007. "Wild in the Streets" can be heard in the 2012 video game Max Payne 3.

On May 28, 2012, at the Pinkpop Festival in Landgraaf, Holland, Jeffreys joined Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band onstage for a performance of ? and the Mysterians' 1966 hit "96 Tears", which Jeffreys had covered on his 1980 album Escape Artist.

In September 2013, Jeffreys released the single "Any Rain" from his album Truth Serum on the LunaPark/Thirty Tigers label.[9]




Year Single Peak positions Album
1973 "Wild In The Streets" single only
1975 "The Disco Kid" single only
1977 "35 Millimeter Dreams" Ghost Writer
1978 "Reelin'" 108 - One-Eyed Jack
1979 "Matador" 4 1 2 2 6 American Boy & Girl
"Bring Back The Love"
1980 "Bound To Get Ahead Someday" (GER only) Garland Jeffreys
1981 "Modern Lovers" Escape Artist
"96 Tears" 66
"Wild In The Streets (Live)" Rock & Roll Adult
1982 "Surrender" Guts For Love
1991 "Hail Hail Rock 'N' Roll" 8 14 33 12 8 72 Don't Call Me Buckwheat
1992 "The Answer" 46 58
"Welcome To The World" 72
1997 "Sexuality" Wildlife Dictionary
"Original Lust"
"—" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released.

Contribution to others[edit]


  1. ^ Garland Jeffreys, Nova Concerts International, June 15, 2011.
  2. ^ Garland Jeffreys, AllMusic, June 15, 2011.
  3. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 281. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  4. ^ "Garland Jeffreys - US Hot 100". Retrieved 2014-05-16. 
  5. ^ "Garland Jeffreys - German Chart". Retrieved 2014-05-16. 
  6. ^ "Official Charts Company: Garland Jeffreys". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 2014-05-16. 
  7. ^ Jeffreys contributed his own "Color Line".
  8. ^ Jeffreys contributed his cover version of "I Walk the Line".
  9. ^ Jeffreys contributed his cover version of "Streets of Philadelphia".
  10. ^ Jeffreys contributed his cover version of "Washington DC Hospital Center Blues".
  11. ^ Jeffreys contributed his own "Ballad Of Me, 35 Millimeter Dreams and Wild In The Streets".
  12. ^ Jeffreys contributed his own "Coney Island Winter".

External links[edit]