John William "Long John" Baldry (12 January 1941 â" 21 July 2005) was an English blues singer and a voice actor. He sang with many British musicians, with Rod Stewart and Elton John appearing in bands led by Baldry in the 1960s. He enjoyed pop success in the UK where Let the Heartaches Begin reached No. 1 in 1967 and in Australia where his duet with Kathi McDonald You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin' reached number two in 1980. Baldry lived in Canada from the late 1970s until his death; there he continued to make records and do voiceover work. One of his best known roles in voice acting was as Dr. Robotnik in Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog.
Baldry's birth was registered in Brixworth Registration District in the first quarter of 1941. This District includes East Haddon so it appears certain that this was his birthplace. His mother's maiden name was Parker. 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. Just before his death, he attended the school's 40th anniversary celebrations.
Blues bands of the 1960s
Baldry grew to 6Â ft 7Â in (2.01Â m), resulting in the nickname "Long John". He was one of the first British vocalists to sing blues in clubs. Baldry appeared quite regularly in the early '60s in the Gyre and Gymble coffee lounge, around the corner from Charing Cross railway station, and at the Brownsville R. & B. Club, Manor House, London, also "Klooks Kleek" (Railway Hotel, West Hampstead). He sometimes appeared at Eel Pie Island on the Thames at Twickenham and 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. 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.
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.
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 after Baldry heard him busking a Muddy Waters song at Twickenham station after Stewart had been to a Baldry gig at Eel Pie Island. 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 Dean and his surname from Baldry.
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 1970sâ"possibly because until 1967 in Britain, homosexuality was still a criminal offence that could lead to forced medication and/or jail time.
Baldry had a brief relationship with lead-guitarist of The Kinks, Dave Davies, and supported Elton John in coming to terms with his own sexuality. 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 Bill Amesbury's "A Thrill's a Thrill".
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.
Bluesology broke up in 1968, with Baldry continuing his solo career and Elton John forming a songwriting partnership with Bernie Taupin. In 1969, Elton John tried to commit suicide after relationship problems with a woman. Taupin and Baldry found him, and Baldry talked him out of marrying the woman, helping make Elton John comfortable with his sexuality. The song "Someone Saved My Life Tonight" from Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy was about the experience.
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 made the lower reaches of the US album charts. The same year, Baldry worked with ex-Procol Harum guitarist Dave Ball.
Baldry had mental health problems and was institutionalised for a brief time in 1975. The 1979 album Baldry's Out was recorded after his release. He played live at Zolly's nightclub in Oshawa, underneath the Oshawa Shopping Centre, shortly after releasing Baldry's Out. In a 1997 interview with a German television program, 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 drove away and had his accident.
After time in New York City and Los Angeles in 1978, Baldry settled in Vancouver, British Columbia, where he became a Canadian citizen. He toured the west coast, as well as the U.S. Northwest. Baldry also toured the Canadian east, including one 1985 show in Kingston, Ontario, where audience members repeatedly called for the title track from his 1979 album Baldry's Out! â" to which he replied, "I'll say he is!"
In 1979, he teamed with Seattle singer Kathi McDonald to record 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 made the lower reaches of the US Billboard charts but was a top 5 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.
He played his last live show in Columbus, Ohio, on 19 July 2004, at Barristers Hall with guitarist Bobby Cameron. The show was produced by Andrew Myers. They played to a small group, some came from Texas. Two years previously the two had a 10-venue sell-out tour of Canada. 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.
Baldry died on 21 July 2005, in Vancouver General Hospital, of a severe chest infection. He was survived by his partner, Felix "Oz" Rexach, a brother, Roger, and a sister, Margaret.
Appearances On Other Albums
- (1960) 6 Out Of 4 ~ The Thames-Side Four - Folklore (F-EP/1) Live recording of the group with LJB on guitar and vocals.
- (1962) R&B from the Marquee ~ Blues Incorporated - Decca (ACL 1130) Baldry provides lead vocals on three tracks including 'How Long, How Long Blues.'
- (1970) The First Supergroup ~ The Steampacket - BYG Records (529.706) Recorded December 1965 the album features tracks with LJB on lead vocals
- (1971) The First Rhythm & Blues Festival In England ~ Various Artists - BYG Records (529.705) Recorded live in Feb 1964 Baldy sings '2.19' and 'Mojo Working'
- (1971) Every Picture Tells A Story ~ Rod Stewart - Mercury (6338 063) LJB provides backing vocals on the title track and 'Seems Like A Long Time'.
- (1972) Mar Y Sol: The First International Puerto Rico Pop Festival ~ Various Artists - Atco Records (SD 2-705) Baldry sings a live version of the self-penned 'Bring My Baby Back To Me'.
- (1975) Dick Deadeye: Original Soundtrack ~ Various Artists - GM Records (GML 1018) Soundtrack to the animated film of the same name with LJB taking lead vocals on three tracks.
- (1975) Sumar Ã SÃ½rlandi ~ StuÃ°menn - Egg (EGG 0000 1/13) Rare Icelandic album. Baldry sings the track 'She Broke My Heart'.
- (1996) Bone, Bottle, Brass or Steel ~ Doug Cox - Malahat Mountain LJB performs 'Good Morning Blues' accompanied by Doug Cox.
- (1998) You Got The Bread... We Got The Jam! ~ Schuld & Stamer - Blue Streak Records (BSCD98001) Long John joins with acoustic blues duo Schuld & Stamer on several tracks.
- (2002) For Fans Only! ~ Genya Ravan - AHA Music Features a rare duet with Ravan and Baldry on 'Something's Got A Hold On Me'. Recorded in 1978.
- (2011) The Definitive Steampacket Recordings ~ The Steampacket - Nasty Productions Features two previously unreleased Steampacket tracks with LJB on lead vocals.
- (2013) Radio Luxembourg Sessions: 208 Rhythm Club - Vol. 5 ~ Various Artists - Vocalion (CDNJT 5319) October 1961 recording. LJB sings 'Every Day I Have The Blues'
- (2013) Radio Luxembourg Sessions: 208 Rhythm Club - Vol. 6 ~ Various Artists - Vocalion (CDNJT 5320) October 1961 recording of LJB singing 'The Glory Of Love'.
- (1965) Rod The Mod
- (1974) The Gospel According To Long John
- (1985) Long John Baldry: Rockin' The Blues
- (1987) Long John Baldry At The Maintenance Shop
- (1993) Long John Baldry In Concert
- (1993) Leverkusen Blues Festival '93: The Long John Baldry Band
- (1993) Waterfront Blues Festival: Long John Baldry
- (1997) Leverkusen Blues Festival '97: Long John Baldry & Tony Ashton
- (1998) CafÃ© Campus Blues with Long John Baldry
- (2001) Happy Birthday Blues: Long John Baldry & Friends
- (2007) Long John Baldry: In The Shadow Of The Blues
- (1971) Up The Chastity Belt [Film] - as Little John
- (1973) The Big Rock Candy Mountain [Play] - as The Cowboy aka Narrator
- (1975) Dick Deadeye, or Duty Done [Animated film] - as The Major General / Monarch Of The Sea
- (1985) Star Wars: Droids [Animated TV series] - as Proto One / The Great Heep
- (1988) Peter Pan: The Musical [Play] - as Captain Hook
- (1989) Captain N: The Game Master [Animated TV series] - as King Charles
- (1989) Dragon Warrior [Animated TV series] - as Narrator
- (1990) The New Adventures of He-Man [Animated TV series] - as Treylus (uncredited)
- (1990) Angel Square [Film] - as Radio Announcer
- (1990) A Klondike Christmas [Animated TV special] - as Bear-Paw
- (1991) Captain Zed and the Zee Zone [Animated TV series] - as Captain Spring
- (1991) MacGyver [TV series] - as Man #2
- (1991) Bucky O'Hare and the Toad Wars [Animated TV series] - as KOMPLEX
- (1991) Captain N And The New Super Mario World [Animated TV series] - as Little John / Clock Man / The Poltergeist King
- (1991) Nilus the Sandman: The Boy Who Dreamed Christmas [Animated TV Christmas special] - as Nilus the Sandman
- (1992) Bucky O'Hare: The Arcade Game [Game] - as KOMPLEX
- (1993) Jack's Place [TV series] - as Tall Man
- (1993) Adventures of Sonic The Hedgehog [Animated TV series] - as Doctor Robotnik
- (1993) Madeline [Animated TV series] - as Greybeard The Pirate
- (1994) ReBoot [Animated TV series] - as Captain Capacitor / Old Man Pearson
- (1994) Nilus the Sandman: Monsters in the Closet [Animated TV special] - as Nilus the Sandman
- (1995) Blame It One The Blues [Film] - as Bartender
- (1995) Nilus the Sandman: The First Day [Animated TV special] - as Nilus the Sandman
- (1996) Hurricanes [Animated TV series] - as Additional Voices
- (1996) Nilus the Sandman [Animated TV series] - as Nilus the Sandman
- (1997) The Original Story Of Winnie The Pooh [Audiobook] - as Narrator
- (1998) Camelot: The Legend [Animated film] - as Merlin
- (1998) Pocket Dragon Adventures [Animated TV series] - as Additional Voices
- (1998) Robocop: Alpha Commando [Animated TV series] - as The Premier
- (1999) Sabrina the Animated Series [Animated TV series] - as Captain Jean Lafitte
- (2001) Fat Dog Mendoza [Animated TV series] - as The Golden Volcano God
- (2002) The New Beachcombers [TV special] - as Member Of JJ's Jugband
- (2002) Toad Patrol [Animated TV series] - as Mistle-Toad
- (2002) Snow Queen [Film] - Rutger The Reindeer (voice)
- (2003) Ben Hur [Animated film] - as Balthazar
- Bob Brunning (1986) Blues: The British Connection, London: Helter Skelter, 2002, ISBN 1-900924-41-2
- Bob Brunning, The Fleetwood Mac Story: Rumours and Lies - Omnibus Press, 2004, foreword by B.B.King
- Dick Heckstall-Smith (2004) The safest place in the world: A personal history of British Rhythm and blues, Clear Books, ISBN 0-7043-2696-5 - First Edition: Blowing The Blues - Fifty Years Playing The British Blues
- Christopher Hjort Strange brew: Eric Clapton and the British blues boom, 1965-1970, foreword by John Mayall,Jawbone (2007)ISBN 1-906002002
- Paul Myers: Long John Baldry and the Birth of the British Blues, Vancouver 2007 - GreyStone Books
- Harry Shapiro Alexis Korner: The Biography, Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, London 1997, Discography by Mark Troster
- Official website dead link, July 2014
- Musical Tree ~ JohnBaldry.com (Baldry band memberships)dead link, July 2014
- Profile at GTA agency dead link, July 2014
- London (Ontario) Free Press report of death published 23 July 2005
- Long John Baldry ~ VH1 profile
- Long John Baldry: Biography ~ AllMusic.com
- Billboard report on Baldry's death 22 July 2005
- Long John Baldry at the Internet Movie Database
- Long John Baldry and The Marquee Club
- It Ain't Easy: Long John Baldry and the Birth of the British Blues (Paperback)
- Long John Baldry: In the Shadow of the Blues (documentary)
- Long John Baldry at Find a Grave