Legendary bluesman Long John Baldry dead at 64

Friday, July 22, 2005

Long John Baldry, English-born blues legend, passed away at the Vancouver General Hospital, Vancouver, British Columbia, Thursday evening after fighting a severe chest infection for the past four months.

Baldry was considered an innovator and inspiration in blues music in the 1950s and 60s and is credited with inspiring other music legends such as Elton John, Rod Stewart, Eric Clapton, and The Rolling Stones.

Baldry was born in East Haddon, England, 1941-01-12 and grew to the imposing height of 6 feet 7 inches (2 metres) which gave him his nickname "Long John". He began playing folk and jazz music as a teenager in the 1950s but his deep voice resonated with the blues. Eric Clapton credits seeing Baldry play as an inspiration for him to play the blues himself. In the early 1960s Baldry sang with Alexis Korner's influential band, Blues Incorporated, and then went on to lead a series of bands himself and featured many new musicians who would go onto superstardom, including Rod Stewart, Mick Jagger, Charlie Watts, Jack Bruce, and Jimmy Page.

He befriended Paul McCartney while playing at the Cavern in Liverpool and performed on The Beatles' internationally televised special Around the Beatles in 1964.

In 1966, Baldry adopted Bluesology for his back-up band, after seeing "promise" in the young keyboard player, Reginald Dwight. In 1968, Dwight adopted the name Elton John, taking the name John in tribute to Baldry.

In 1978, he moved to the United States, spending time in New York and Los Angeles, before moving on to Vancouver permanently about 1980 and becoming a Canadian citizen.

Baldry has released over 40 albums and, in the last twenty years, done much voice-over work in Canada for commercials and animations including ReBoot and narrating the Disney production, The Original Story Of Winnie-The-Pooh, which earned him a 1998 Grammy spoken word album for children nomination.

Before his illness, it had been anticipated that Baldry would be touring in the autumn in support of new recordings produced by Rod Stewart and Elton John to be released this September.


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