Sunday, July 24, 2005

Long John Baldry, the "Where's Waldo" of British blues, dies at 64

Long John Baldry died in Vancouver last week. Exactly who was Long John Baldry?

This is what Rod Stewart said about him, in comments posted on the late Mr. Baldry's web site:

'For me, just shaking his hand – knowing all the great musicians whose hand he’d shaken before – was mind-blowing. But so was John. Picture this elegant man with a proper English accent, never without a tie, a towering six-foot-seven. I was a huge fan and I was intimidated by his offer. Rod Stewart wasn’t in demand in those days; no one was interested. I immediately said 'yes'. John had a knack for discovering talent. Ginger Baker, Jeff Beck and Brian Jones all worked with him early on. Elton John played piano in one of his bands, other Rolling Stones too – Charlie, Ron Wood, and Keith. In 1962, when the Rolling Stones were just getting started, they opened for him in London. Eric Clapton has said many times that John was 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 those days the only music we fell in love with was the blues, and John was the first white guy singing it, in his wonderful voice. It was the true blues and everyone looked up to him'. - Rod Stewart

In short, Long John Baldry was the "Where's Waldo" of the early British blues scene, back in fact, as he sung in his only American hit, "Don't Try to Lay No Boogie-Woogie on the King of Rock and Roll," when there was no British blues scene at all.

Yes, as Rod Stewart stated, an unkown named Elton John played in one of Baldry's bands. Long John's influence was strong with Elton; born Reginald Dwight, his adopted surname was chosen by Reg as a tribute to the great Long John Baldry.

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