Saturday, March 19, 2011

Bravo Long John Baldry!

It seems like every few years I somehow manage to bump into (like an old friend from the sixties) the deep, rich, bluesy voice and soul-stirring music of Long (6'7") John Baldry.  The other night was one of those times, on a BRAVO! tribute to the almost famous Brit.  Old guys will know what I mean, but you young folks out there would be doing yourself a big favour to download and listen to the likes of A Thrill's A Thrill, Don't Try To Lay No Boogie-Woogie On The King Of Rock And Roll, Baldry's Out, or You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling.  Of course, those pieces just scratch the surface of LJB's work - but perhaps you'll get hooked (as I am) on his distinctive white boy blues genre.  Acknowledged "discoverer" of Rod Stewart and Elton John (who were members of his various 60's bands, as were Mick Jagger and Charlie Watts of The Rolling Stones) and bosom buddy of Paul McCartney, Long John could never quite sustain the level of stardom his proteges achieved.  Eventually he had mental health problems (who doesn't?) and was institutionalized for a brief time in 1975 - until someone told him his Canadian fans missed him, whereupon he promptly checked himself out of the asylum and headed for North America.  (The 1979 album Baldry's Out was recorded in honour of that event.)  In his later years he moved permanently to Canada, became a Canadian citizen, and made his last few albums at Stony Plain Records in Edmonton.  An inveterate partier, he died in his beloved Vancouver in 2005, the victim of way too much fun, booze, sex, drugs and rock n'roll.  But man, that music!