Long John Baldry

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Long John Baldry
Baldry in 1972
Baldry in 1972
Background information
Birth nameJohn William Baldry
Born(1941-01-12)12 January 1941
East Haddon, Northamptonshire, England
Died21 July 2005(2005-07-21) (aged 64)
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  • Musician
  • singer
  • actor
  • Vocals
  • guitar
Years active1957–2004

John William "Long John" Baldry (12 January 1941 – 21 July 2005) was an English musician and actor. In the 1960s, he was one of the first British vocalists to sing the blues in clubs and shared the stage with many British musicians including the Rolling Stones and the Beatles. Before achieving stardom, Rod Stewart and Elton John were members of bands led by Baldry. He enjoyed pop success in 1967 when "Let the Heartaches Begin" reached No. 1 in the UK, and in Australia where his duet with Kathi McDonald "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" reached No. 2 in 1980.

Baldry lived in Canada from the late 1970s until his death. He continued to make records there, and do voiceover work. Two of his best-known voice roles were as Dr. Ivo Robotnik in Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, and as KOMPLEX in Bucky O'Hare and the Toad Wars.

Early life[edit]

John William Baldry was born at East Haddon Hall, East Haddon, Northamptonshire, which was serving as a makeshift wartime maternity ward,[1] on 12 January 1941, the son of William James Baldry (1915–1990), a Metropolitan Police constable and his wife, Margaret Louisa (née ; 1915–1989); their usual address was recorded as 18 Frinton Road, East Ham.[2] 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 (now Canons High School).

Blues bands of the 1960s[edit]

Baldry grew to 6 ft 7 in (2.01 m), resulting in the nickname "Long John". Baldry appeared quite regularly in the early 1960s in the Gyre & Gimble coffee lounge, around the corner from Charing Cross railway station, and at the Bluesville R. & B. Club, Manor House, London, also Klooks Kleek (Railway Hotel, West Hampstead). He appeared weekly for some years at Eel Pie Island on the Thames at Twickenham and also appeared 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.[3] 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 U.S.-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.[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 when 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, when he began to record as a solo artist, adopted the name Elton John, his first name from Elton Dean and his surname from John Baldry.[6]

Following the departure of Elton John and Bluesology, Baldry was left without a backup band. Attending a show in the Mecca at Shaftesbury Avenue, he saw a five-piece harmony group called Chimera from Plymouth, who had recently turned professional. He approached them after their set to tell them how impressed he was by their vocal harmonies and that they would be ideal to back him on the cabaret circuit he was currently embarked on, which they did.

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. Baldry was still touring, doing gigs with Bluesology, but the band refused to back his rendition of "Let the Heartaches Begin", and left the stage while he performed to a backing-tape played on a large Revox tape-recorder.

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 also made the lower reaches of the US album charts. The same year, Baldry worked with ex-Procol Harum guitarist Dave Ball.[7] The 1979 album Baldry's Out was recorded in Canada, which he released at Zolly's Forum; a nightclub in Oshawa, underneath the Oshawa Shopping Centre.

In a 1997 interview with a German television programme 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 was killed in a car accident.[8]

Move to Canada, later career[edit]

After time in New York City and Los Angeles in 1978, Baldry lived in Dundas, Ontario from 1980 to 1984[9] before settling in Vancouver, British Columbia, where he became a Canadian citizen. He toured the west coast, as well as the US Northwest. Baldry also toured the Canadian east.

In 1976, he teamed with Seattle singer Kathi McDonald who became part of the Long John Baldry Band, touring Canada and the US. In 1979 the pair recorded 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 entered the US Billboard charts and was a No. 2 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.

In 2003 Baldry headlined the British Legends of Rhythm and Blues UK tour, alongside Zoot Money, Ray Dorset and Paul Williams.[10] Baldry's final United States performance was held at Barristers Hall in Columbus, Ohio, on 19 July 2004.[11] 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.[12]

Personal life[edit]

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.[13] This was possibly because until 1967 in Britain, male homosexual conduct was still a criminal offence punishable by imprisonment.

In 1968, Elton John tried to commit suicide after relationship problems with a woman, Linda Woodrow. His lyricist Bernie Taupin and Baldry[14] found him, and Baldry talked him out of marrying her. The song "Someone Saved My Life Tonight" from Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy was about the experience.[15][16] The name "Sugar Bear" in the song is a reference to Baldry. Baldry had a brief relationship with lead guitarist of the Kinks, Dave Davies.[15][17][18]

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 Barbra Amesbury's "A Thrill's a Thrill".[19]

Health and death[edit]

During the mid-1970s, Baldry suffered from depression exacerbated by his collapsing career (particularly the failure of his 1973 album Good to Be Alive[20]) and separation from an Austrian boyfriend who was required to leave the United Kingdom when his visitor visa expired. As a result, he developed an addiction to alcohol and painkillers.[21]

Following an incident in which he was allegedly mugged in Amsterdam, Baldry was found barely conscious by his sister, Margaret, in their Muswell Hill home, having overdosed on Valium and alcohol in an apparent suicide attempt. Baldry was institutionalized for less than a week, reportedly stopping his dependencies cold turkey. [22]

By the release of his 1986 album Silent Treatment, Baldry suffered from crippling gout – which required several pairs of special shoes – as well as bronchial and sinus issues. Shortly after moving into a condominium on Vancouver's 4th Avenue in 1995,[23] Baldry was hospitalized and underwent surgery for a bleeding stomach ulcer. He quit smoking afterwards and ceased performing in clubs that allowed smoking.[24] During a performance in Banbury promoting his 1999 live album Live, Long John Baldry Trio, Baldry was hospitalized for another bleeding ulcer caused and obscured by his arthritis medication indometacin. A few days after being discharged from Horton General Hospital, he developed agonizing gout across his body, prompting Rod Stewart to admit him to the London Clinic, where he stayed for three weeks.[25]

In 2002, Baldry remarked that he had developed spinal osteoporosis and dorsocervical lipodystrophy.[26] He underwent hip replacement surgery to treat his osteoporosis, after which Tom Lavin of the Powder Blues Band noted that he appeared healthier.[27][28]

Baldry died on 21 July 2005 at Vancouver General Hospital after a four-month battle with a chest infection. He was 64 years old.[28] He was survived by his partner, Felix "Oz" Rexach,[29] his brother, Roger, and his sister, Margaret.[30] According to Rexach, Baldry fell ill with pneumonia after returning from a European tour earlier that year, and his infection developed antibiotic resistance.[28]


Studio 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. BS 2614
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
1986 Silent Treatment Musicline Records ML 000l
1991 It Still Ain't Easy Stony Plain Records / Hypertension-Music SPCD 1163 / HYCD 200 122
1996 Right to Sing the Blues Stony Plain Records / Hypertension-Music SPCD 1232 / HYCD 296 167
2001 Remembering Leadbelly Stony Plain Records SPCD 1275

Live albums[edit]

Year Title Label Cat. No.
1986 Long John Baldry & Friends Musicline Records ML 0002
1987 This Is Japan (Diamond Club, Toronto 06/09/87) Musicline Records Unreleased
1989 A Touch of the Blues Musicline Records ML 0005
1993 On Stage Tonight - Baldry's Out! Stony Plain Records / Hypertension-Music SPCD 1192 / HYCD 200 135
1999 Evening Conversation Stony Plain Records / Hypertension-Music SPCD 1268 / HYP 0191
2009 Live - Iowa State University Angel Air Records SJPCD310


Year Title Label Cat. No.
1982 The Best of Long John Baldry EMI Capitol SN 66124
1995 A Thrill's A Thrill: The Canadian Years EMI S22Z 29609
1998 Let the Heartaches Begin: The Pye Anthology Sequel Records 42298
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 50899 2
2014 The Best of the Stony Plain Years Stony Plain Records SPCD 1376


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 Boy's 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 Lovin' Feelin' 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


Year Title Tracks Label Cat. No.
1965 Long John's Blues "Dimples" / "Hoochie Coochie Man" / "My Baby" / "Times Are Getting Tougher Than Tough" United Artists UEP 1013
1967 Cuckoo "Cuckoo" / "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" / "Stop Her on Sight (S.O.S.)" / "Bring My Baby Back to Me" United Artists UEP 36.108
1992 Midnight in New Orleans "Midnight in New Orleans" / "Introduction" / "Good Morning Blues" / "As Long as I Feel the Spirit" / "Black Girl" / "Ain't the Peculiar" Hypertension Music HYCDS 100 103
1995 ...Some Thrills EMI DRPO 1132 Five track promo with a previously unreleased version of "Passing Glanes"
2018 Filthy McNasty "Filthy McNasty" / "Backwater Blues" / "St. James Infirmary" / "Money's Getting Cheaper" Rhythm & Blues Records REP21

Other recordings[edit]

Year Title Notes
1959 Gallows Pole Unissued Schott Music Corp. demo.
1965 Mister Someone From the ITV television play The End of Arthur's Marriage
1968 Let There Be Long John Pye Records; Unreleased album
1970 Madame Unissued ATV-Kirshner / Pye demo.
1981 Ken's Theme Recorded for the documentary film The Devil at Your Heels
1984 Run Through the Jungle Unissued single that received some radio play.
1987 The Luckiest Man Alive Self-penned opening song to the comedy Home Is Where The Hart Is
2004 Baldry's Back Stony Plain Records; Unreleased album
2004 Baldry's Back Self-penned title track from the unissued album 'Baldry's Back'
2004 Marriage Meltdown Self-penned track from the unissued album 'Baldry's Back'
2004 I Ain't Superstitious Track from the unissued album 'Baldry's Back'
2004 Baby Please Don't Go Track from the unissued album 'Baldry's Back'

Performances on other albums

TV specials



Year Title Role Notes
1971 Up the Chastity Belt Little John
1975 Dick Deadeye, or Duty Done The Major General, Monarch Of The Sea (voices)
1990 Angel Square Radio Announcer
1995 Blame It on the Blues Bartender
1998 Camelot: The Legend Merlin (voice)
2002 Snow Queen Rutger The Reindeer (voice)
2003 Ben Hur Balthazar (voice)
2004 Mary Engelbreit's the Night Before Christmas Augustus (voice) Short; Final performance


Year Title Role Notes
1985 Star Wars: Droids Proto One, The Great Heep 1 episode + 1 special
1989–1991 Captain N: The Game Master King Charles, Little John, Clock Man, The Poltergeist King (voices) 5 episodes
1989 Dragon Warrior Narrator (voice) 13 episodes
1990 The New Adventures of He-Man Treylus Uncredited, 1 episode
1990 A Klondike Christmas Bear-Paw (voice) Television special
1991–1992 Captain Zed and the Zee Zone Captain Spring (voice) 2 episodes
1991 MacGyver Man #2 Episode: "Strictly Business"
1991 Bucky O'Hare and the Toad Wars KOMPLEX (voice) 13 episodes
1991 Nilus the Sandman: The Boy Who Dreamed Christmas Nilus the Sandman (voice) Television special
1992 The Flying Stones of Nan Madol Narrator (voice) TV documentary
1993 Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog Dr. Ivo Robotnik (voice) 65 episodes
1993 Jack's Place Tall Man Episode: "Something Wonderful This Way Comes"
1993 Madeline Greybeard the Pirate (voice) 1 episode
1994–1996 Hurricanes Stan 1 episode
1994-1997 ReBoot Captain Capacitor, Old Man Pearson (voices) 11 episodes
1994 Nilus the Sandman: Monsters in the Closet Nilus the Sandman (voice) Television film
1995 Nilus the Sandman: The First Day Nilus the Sandman (voice) Television special
1996–1997 The Adventures of Corduroy Mr. Tusk (voice) 4 episodes
1996–1998 Nilus the Sandman Nilus the Sandman (voice) 26 episodes
1996 Sonic's Christmas Blast Dr. Ivo Robotnik (voice) Television special
1998 Pocket Dragon Adventures King Bigoty (voice) 1 episode
1998 Fat Dog Mendoza Golden Volcano God (voice) Episode: "Going the Distance"
1998–1999 RoboCop: Alpha Commando The Premier (voice) 2 episodes
1999 Sabrina: The Animated Series Captain Jean Lafitte 1 episode
2002 The New Beachcombers Member of JJ's Jugband (voice) Television special
2002–2003 Toad Patrol Mistle-Toad (voice) 26 episodes

Video games[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1992 Bucky O'Hare: The Arcade Game KOMPLEX


Year Title Role Notes
1973 The Big Rock Candy Mountain The Cowboy aka Narrator
1988 Peter Pan: The Musical Captain Hook



  1. ^ It Ain't Easy: Long John Baldry and the Birth of the British Blues, Paul Ward, Greystone Books, 2007, p. 5
  2. ^ Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2005-2008.
  3. ^ Heckstall-Smith, Dick and Grant, Pete. Blowing the Blues: Fifty Years Playing The British Blues. Clear Press, 2004, p. 241; ISBN 1-904555-04-7
  4. ^ 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).
  5. ^ Stewart, Rod (21 July 2005). "The Making of a Legend". LongJohnBaldry.com. Retrieved 21 May 2021.
  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. ^ "Dave Ball talks to Antonio Costa Barbé". Procolharum.com. Retrieved 6 March 2014.
  8. ^ "John Baldry". YouTube. 3 February 2009. Retrieved 6 March 2014.[dead YouTube link]
  9. ^ "Long John Baldry". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved 25 February 2022.
  10. ^ "Guildford Civic Centre Review by Al Kirtley". alkirtley.co.uk. Retrieved 21 July 2015.
  11. ^ Myers 2007, p. 223.
  12. ^ "Long John Baldry". GTA: The Real Music Agency. Archived from the original on 13 February 2005. Retrieved 21 May 2021.
  13. ^ "StackPath".
  14. ^ Burnett, Richard (20 July 2012), Three Dollar Bill (column), "Sugar Bear" (prior versions of 2007 Archived 4 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine and 2005 Archived 4 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine archived at hour.ca). Retrieved 4 November 2014.
  15. ^ a b "Originals, Long John Baldry". BBC. 2 May 2009.
  16. ^ Mike DeGagne. "Someone Saved My Life Tonight - Elton John | Listen, Appearances, Song Review". AllMusic. Retrieved 6 March 2014.
  17. ^ "(Featuring Long John Baldry)". Blues Underground Network. Archived from the original on 23 September 2015. Retrieved 6 March 2014.
  18. ^ "Long John Baldry - Biography". The Marquee Club. Archived from the original on 4 July 2010. Retrieved 6 March 2014.
  19. ^ Mark Kowalk, Pioneering gay blues musician Long John Baldry dies Archived 10 August 2010 at the Wayback Machine Xtra! West 4 August 2005; http://www.xtra.ca Archived 26 June 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  20. ^ Myers 2007, p. 172.
  21. ^ Myers 2007, p. 174.
  22. ^ Myers 2007, pp. 175–177.
  23. ^ Myers 2007, pp. 222, 233.
  24. ^ Myers 2007, p. 234.
  25. ^ Myers 2007, pp. 236–237.
  26. ^ Leigh, Spencer (25 July 2005). "Obituaries: Long John Baldry". The Independent. Retrieved 10 March 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  27. ^ Myers 2007, p. 239.
  28. ^ a b c Mackie, John (23 July 2005). "Blues legend was mentor to Rod Stewart, Elton John". The Vancouver Sun. Retrieved 10 March 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  29. ^ Rexach, a native of New York City, who 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).
  30. ^ Mark Kowalk. Pioneering gay blues musician Long John Baldry dies. Music legend leaves the gay community proud. 10 August 2005. Accessed 23 September 2018.


External links[edit]