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John William "Long John" Baldry (12 January 1941 – 21 July 2005) was an English and Canadian 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. He was the voice of 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 Harrow Downer Grammar School.
Blues bands of the 1960s
Born John William Baldry in England, he grew to 6ft 7in (2.01m) that resulted in the nickname "Long John". Gifted with a deep, rich voice, he was one of the first British vocalists to sing blues in clubs. John appeared quite regularly in the early '60s in the Gyre and Gymble coffee lounge, around the corner from Charing Cross railway station. He sometimes appeared on Eel Pie Island, on the Thames at Twickenham and at the Station Hotel in Richmond, one of the Rolling Stones' earliest gigs.
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 friends 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, Baldy 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 gig at Eel Pie Island.
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 adopted the name Elton John, his first name from Dean and his surname from Baldry.
Baldry was openly gay during the early 1960s when homosexuality was still criminalised and medicated. He later had a brief relationship with lead-guitarist of The Kinks, Dave Davies. Baldry 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 issues 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, who is straight, and Baldry, who was openly gay, 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 charts. 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. John's first tour of the US was 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.
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 September 16, 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. 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. pg. 223 photo credit to Andrew Myers and show date. 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 always said he felt more comfortable when he was "treading the boards" and at one time in his varied career almost landed the lead in a series about a business tycoon. This however, was not to be, butBaldry's career in acting certainly didn't stop dead. He first appeared in a stage play called "Big Rock Candy Mountain" and from then on made numerous appearances as a wide variety of characters.
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