LONG JOHN BALDRY, born John William Baldry, died on this date (b: 1941) And with him died a piece of rock and roll history. Undeniably, Long John was one of the “Founding Fathers of British Blues’ in the 1960s and without his presence the scene, particularly the Blues scene, may have been quite different. Long John Baldry was a pioneering blues singer from England and he had a knack for discovering talent. Ginger Baker, Jeff Beck and Brian Jones all worked with him early on as did other Rolling Stones – Charlie Watts, Ron Wood, and Keith Richards.
In 1962, when The Rolling Stones were just getting started, they opened for him in London. Eric Clapton credits Long John Baldry as one of the musicians that inspired him to play the Blues. And for their internationally televised special in 1964, The Beatles invited John to perform his version of ‘I Got My Mojo Working’.In 1965, his band, the Hoochie Coochie Men became Steampacket with Baldry and Stewart as male vocalists and Brian Auger on Hammond organ.
In 1966, Baldry formed Bluesology featuring one Reg Dwight on keyboards and Elton Dean, later of Soft Machine, as well as Caleb Quaye on guitar. Reg Dwight decided to adopt the name Elton John, taking his first name from Dean and his surname from Baldry’s first name. 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 attempted suicide after having relationship problems with a woman he was engaged to. Taupin and Baldry found him and in a conversation Baldry talked him out of marrying the woman and helped make John more comfortable with his sexuality. The hit song “Someone Saved My Life Tonight” from Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy was written about the experience.
Partial Baldry discography: Baldry’s Out! (EMI) (1979) Long John’s Blues (United Artists) (1964) Looking at Long John (United Artists) (1966) Let The Heartaches Begin (Pye) (1968) Everything Stops for Tea (Warner Brothers) (1972) Mar Y Sol: The First International Puerto Rico Pop Festival (Atco) (1972) Good To Be Alive (Baldry Album) (GM) (1973) After spending time in New York City and Los Angeles in 1978, Baldry chose to settle permanently in Vancouver, British Columbia, where he became a Canadian citizen.
He regularly toured the Canadian 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!–to which he replied, “I’ll say he is!”