Lost Classics! Long John Baldry

Once upon a time, there were places on the radio dial that you could go to hear things you had never heard before.  And sometimes, you’d never hear those things again.  FM radio, in the magic late 1960s and early 1970s, was a wonder.  Especially late at night, when DJs had utterly free rein in the music they played and the substances they consumed, legal or illegal.  Kinda like the audience.

Anyway, one of the amazing artists I first heard late at night on KLOL radio beaming out of Houston was the British blues belter Long John Baldry.  With a deep, smooth voice that could get rough as sandpaper when he wished, Baldry hit No. 1 in the U.K. in 1967 with a ditty called “Let The Heartaches Begin.”  He also played in a band called Bluesology with one Reginald Dwight on piano.  This pianist tried to commit suicide over some woman and Baldry – who was openly gay – talked the piano player out of marrying the woman.

This pianist of course went on to become the 1970s giant Elton John, and to return the favor to Baldry he agreed to produce Baldry’s 1971 solo album, It Ain’t Easy.  Well, he produced half of it – the other half was produced by Rod “Big Nose” Stewart, who was also making quite a name for himself at the time.  It Ain’t Easy made the top 100 on the U.S. album charts; it was Baldry’s most popular album.  John never forgot the favor Baldry did for him, and he wrote “Someone Saved My Life Tonight” about the incident.

Baldry (called “Long John” because he was six feet, seven inches tall) continued to record and perform into the 1990s, and he also lent his singular voice to cartoons, most notably appearing on the Star Wars spinoff “Ewoks” in 1985. Baldry died in 2005 in Vancouver, and he leaves behind one of the all-time classics of 1970s FM radio, with Elton John on piano and complete with Baldry’s spoken introduction: “Don’t Try To Lay No Boogie Woogie On The King Of Rock And Roll.”

MP3: “Conditional Discharge/Don’t Try To Lay No Boogie Woogie On The King Of Rock And Roll”

Long John Baldry official website




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