Long John Baldry - Biography
Gigs at the Marquee club: 200 aprox.
Period of performances: 1963/1975
Born John William Baldry in January the 12th, 1941 in Haddon, England, Long John Baldry was without a doubt one of the most significant and pioneering British rhythm & blues artists from the 60's and one of the most important resident artists of the Marquee, who performed more than a two hundred gigs at the club during a twelve year span. He is the musician who is supposed to have played the most at the Marquee club.
Long John Baldry started his career as a folk and jazz musician playing a borrowed 12 string guitar during the late 50's. During his early career he toured UK with Ramblin' Jack Elliott and around this time he was nicknamed "Long John Baldry" because of his 6 foot 7 inch height. Baldry's distinctive deep and rich voice made of him one of the first British vocalists to sing blues music in clubs after he joined the reputed Alexis Korner's Blues Incorporated in February 1961 to play a series of gigs at the Ealing Club, in west London. During this period, Blues Incorporated would host onstage a variety of newcomer blues singers, including Mick Jagger, Paul Jones and Eric Burdon as well as musicians such as Keith Richards and Charlie Watts (of later Rolling Stones fame) and Jack Bruce. Eric Clapton said once that he was inspired to become a musician after seeing Long John Baldry playing live at the Marquee club during the early years of the club. Long John Baldry also took part of the recording of the legendary first British blues album ever released, in June 1962, Alexis Korner's "R&B At The Marquee", which, despite of it's title, it was not recorded at the Marquee club but at Decca West Hampstead Studios in London. This album is the only existing official recording of this lineup. Alexis Korner's Blues Incorporated has been considered the most important school of blues music in UK where the talents of future generations were forged.
After a solo German club tour, in January 1963, Long John Baldry joined the reputed rhythm & blues act of Cyril Davies, the R & R All Stars, featuring Jimmy Page on guitar and Nicky Hopkins on piano, performing at the Marquee club. Baldry debuted with the band at the old Marquee Club at 165 Oxford St on the 3rd of January 1963 to start a 13 month club residency, and coinciding with the Rolling Stones historical debut. In August that same year, Long John Baldry also performed at the 3rd National Jazz & Blues Festival in Richmond, which was organized by the National Jazz Federation and the Marquee club.
After the tragic death of Cyril Davies in January 1964, Long John Baldry formed the Hoochie Coochie Men, featuring Geoff Bradford on guitar, and singer Rod Stewart as second vocalist, who had been recruited by Baldry after he heard him singing a Muddy Waters song at a railway station. The band debuted at the Marquee on the 6th of February 1964 in a residency at the club that lasted for no less than 17 months. In August that same year they also performed at the 4th National Jazz & Blues Festival in Richmond.
Having built a friendship with Paul McCartney after the Beatle saw him playing at the Cavern Club in Liverpool in the early 60's, Baldry appeared as a solo performer on a Beatles TV special. After an appearance at the 5th National Jazz & Blues Festival, in the fall of 1965 the Hoochie Coochie Men split up and both John Baldry and Rod Stewart joined the band Steampacket along with vocalist Julie Driscoll and organist Brian Auger. The new band debuted at the Marquee on the 22nd of July, 1965, and played 17 gigs at the Maquee club during a 13 month span. After Steampacket broke up in 1966, Baldry formed another band called Bluesology, featuring Reg Dwight on keyboards, and jazz saxophonist Elton Dean later of Soft Machine fame. Reg Dwight later turned into one of the most successful solo artists in pop music, after having changed his artistic name to "Elton John" by taking his first name from Elton Dean and his surname from Baldry's first name. Bluesology debuted at the Marquee on the 16th of December, 1965, which was the first of 16 appearances at the club.
In 1968, Bluesology broke up and Long John Baldry decided to give a turn to his career to record as a solo artist orienting his style to pop music. Although at this stage their musical careers split, Long John Baldry and Elton John remained as close friends through the years. A year after Bluesology's split, Elton John went through a period of personal trouble and he even attempted to commit suicide due to his hidden homosexuality and after a fruitless relationship with a woman who he was engaged to. The support of John Baldry was decisive to help Elton John decide not to get married the woman and find a way to feel more comfortable with his sexuality. In 1975, Elton John dedicated the song "Someone Saved My Life Tonight" to Baldry's encouragement and friendship.
Backed up by the reputed producers and composers Tony MacAuley and John McLeod, Baldry entered the UK charts in 1967 with a number 1 entitled "Let The Heartaches Begin". In August 1969 Long John Baldry appeared as a solo artist at the 9th National Jazz & Blues Festival in Plumpton. Two years later, John Baldry recorded the solo album "It Ain't Easy" with the collaboration of Rod Stewart and Elton John, which became his most popular album which reached the top 100 of the US album charts. The album featured the song "Don't Try to Lay No Boogie Woogie on the King of Rock and Roll", which became his most successful song in the US. In 1970, Baldry also co-produced with Rod Stewart the album "Everything Stops For Tea". Followed by a commercial failure, John Baldry suffered from mental health problems, but he still managed to perform at the 14th National Jazz, Blues & Rock Festival in Reading, which happened to be his last ever appearance at the festival. Sadly, he was later eventually put into a mental institution for two years. The end of this period coincided with the release of the "Baldry's Out" album.
In 1987, John Baldry recorded the official theme for the Olympic Games in Mexico, which reached the Top 20. After spending some time in New York City and Los Angeles, John Baldry moved to Vancouver, British Columbia, where he finally settled to become a Canadian citizen. During the forthcoming years he toured the Canadian West Coast as well as the US Northwest and in 1979, he worked with Seattle singer Kathi MacDonald on a version of the Righteous Brothers "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin", which reached the top 5 in Australia in 1980. Kathi MacDonald became a permanent part of his touring group for the next two decades. For a while, John Baldry also used his deep voice to do voice over work for TV and films, including the movies and since 1993 he gain popularity as the voice of the cartoon character Dr. Robotnik from the show Adventures of "Sonic the Hedgehog".
In 1997, John Baldry released his last album, "Right To Sing The Blues", which won a Juno Award for Blues Album of the Year.
Sadly, Long John Baldry died at age 64 on July the 21st, 2005 in a Vancouver hospital of a severe chest infection after a four-month battle.
More info on Long John Baldry
Long John Baldry gigs with Alexis Korner's Blues Incorporated
Alexis Korner's Blues Incorporated performed at the Marquee club about 39 gigs during a 7 month span in 1962. Due to the constant changes on the bands lineup, we don't have details on which gigs included Long John Baldry onstage.
Long John Baldry gigs with Cyril Davies & R&B All Stars
Long John Baldry & the Hoochie Coochie Men gigs
Long John Baldry gigs with Steampacket
Long John Baldry gigs with Bluesology
Long John Baldry solo gigs
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