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Long John Baldry

John William Baldry (12 January 1941 – 21 July 2005), popularly known as Long John Baldry, was an English blues singer. He sang with many British musicians. Rod Stewart and Elton John appeared in bands led by Baldry in the 1960s and thus he helped launch their careers. He enjoyed pop success in the UK where "Let the Heartaches Begin" reached No. 1 in 1967. At the dawn of the 1970s, John William (Long John) Baldry was sitting on the sidelines of rock, pondering his imminent plunge to the bottom after two wild rides to the top in the UK. His career had begun in the late ’50s and early ’60 ...read more

John William Baldry (12 January 1941 – 21 July 2005), popularly known as Long John Baldry, was an English blues singer. He sang with many British musicians. Rod Stewart and Elton John appeared in bands led by Baldry in the 1960s and thus he helped launch their careers. He enjoyed pop success in the UK where "Let the Heartaches Begin" reached No. 1 in 1967. At the dawn of the 1970s, John William (Long John) Baldry was sitting on the sidelines of rock, pondering his imminent plunge to the bottom after two wild rides to the top in the UK. His career had begun in the late ’50s and early ’60s, when the 6’ 7”, white, gay Englishman had become the unlikely father of the British blues, helping to promulgate the African-American art form in the London clubs with Alexis Korner and Cyril Davies’ Blues Incorporated, and later discovering Rod Stewart, whom Baldry featured in his band the Hoochie Coochie Men. Next came England’s “first supergroup,” the legendary, if ephemeral, Steampacket, starring Baldry and Stewart with Brian Auger and Julie Driscoll. Additionally, Baldry directly inspired Mick Taylor, Keith Richards, and Brian Jones to form the Rolling Stones and even demonstrated to a young Eric Clapton that white English boys could in fact play the blues. Then came a bittersweet misstep; he transformed himself into an Engelbert Humperdinck-styled balladeer and went, literally, to Top of the Pops in 1967 with a sappy hit called "Let the Heartaches Begin.” While it probably netted him a few pounds, he all but stained his blues legacy in Britain forever, becoming the darling of housewives and schoolgirls, an audience he secretly had little time for. In the meantime, John Mayall, Clapton, and others stole his blues mantle out from under him. After the demise of his band, Bluesology—which launched the career of Reggie Dwight, the future Elton John—Baldry’s career soon dissipated into in a boozy haze of artistic and commercial recession. By 1971, a despondent Baldry sat in his Muswell Hill, London flat, feeding his pet goat and finding himself suddenly in the rearview of history at the precise moment when his protégés, Rod Stewart and Elton John, were catapulting to rock stardom in the US. To save himself, Baldry signed with Faces manager, Billy Gaff, who urged him to get back into the blues-based rock business, with not a moment to waste. Gaff enlisted Baldry’s two star protégés, Stewart and John, to pay back their mentor by producing what would become his American debut. Released by Warner Brothers in 1971, It Ain't Easy could not have come out at a better time. For while it may have been harder to convince UK audiences that Baldry had come down from lounge heaven, the untainted American rock audience saw it as a kind of debut. Baldry at last had a chance to tour in the land that had so inspired him in the first place. In fact, It Ain’t Easy was so well-received in America that, in 1972, Warner Brothers brought the whole team back for a follow-up, Everything Stops for Tea, which features cover art by guitarist Ronnie Wood. Baldry lived in Canada from the late 1970s until his death. There he continued to make records and do voiceover work. He was the voice of Dr. Robotnik in Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog. « hide

Similar Bands: Elton John, Rod Stewart, Eric Clapton, Ronnie Wood, B.B. King

It Ain't Easy
1971

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