He had a pivotal role on the British Rock scene development during the 1960’s
The influential Long John Baldry was born on this day in 1941
For some people the name Long John Baldry might only ring a bell when associated to the 1967 hit “Let the Heartaches Begin”, but Long John Baldry, who was born John William Baldry in Northamptonshire, England on January 12th, 1941, is one of the most influential figures on the British Rock music scene during the 1960’s. In the early 1960’s, 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. 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. Also The Beatles were influenced by Baldry’s talent and support. Baldry became friendly with Paul McCartney after a show at the Cavern Club in Liverpool in the early 1960’s, 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. Aside of The Rolling Stones, Baldry also gave some of the now most successful British singers their first professional opportunity, most notably Rod Stewart and Elton John during the mid to late 1960’s. In 1964, his band Long John Baldry and his Hoochie Coochie Men featured the young 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. 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 Dean and his surname from Baldry.
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. 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. Baldry stepped away from music during the 1970’s due to mental health problems and was institutionalised for a brief time in 1975. After time in New York City and Los Angeles, in 1978, Baldry settled in Vancouver, British Columbia, where he became a Canadian citizen.He played his last live show in Columbus, Ohio, on 19 July 2004, at Barristers Hall with guitarist Bobby Cameron. Long John Baldry was always a deeply respected man among his musician peers due to his talent and friendship. Baldry, who was openly gay, was responsible to help Elton John coming to terms and accept his own sexuality. In 1968, Elton John tried to commit suicide after relationship problems with a woman, Linda Woodrow. Bernie Taupin, the lyricist, and Baldry found him and Baldry talked him out of marrying her, helping make Elton John comfortable with his sexuality. The Elton John song “Someone Saved My Life Tonight” was about the experience. Baldry also had a brief relationship with lead-guitarist of The Kinks, Dave Davies. During the last years of his life many of his friends such as Elton John and Rod Stewart, helped and supported Baldry financially, specially concerning his health care. Long John Baldry died on July 21st, 2005 in Vancouver, Canada. of a severe chest infection. He was survived by his partner, Felix “Oz” Rexach, a brother, Roger, and a sister, Margaret.
Watch this amazing all star supergroup led by Long John Baldry, featuring Eric Burdon, Stevie Winwood, Long John Baldry, Julie Driscoll and Rod Stewart performing “I Feel Alright” in 1965
Look back at Long John Baldry performing his 1967 hit “Let The Heartaches Begin”
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