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Long John Baldry - The King of Rock and Roll?

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Mar 10, 2006
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The King of Rock and Roll?
Not Really, But He Was Having Too Much Fun to Worry About It.

With his tongue deeply in his cheek, Long John Baldry referred to himself as the King of Rock and Roll in this episodic Autobiographical Rhythm and Blues Song from his 1969 album. In hilarious detail, he discusses his arrest and trial in 1957 for disturbing the peace in London. After a fairly lengthy (3 min. 20 sec.) lead-in narrative accompanied by some nice piano, he breaks into some real booooogee wooooogee music. Baldry always had fun when he sang.

Few know it, but John Baldry was the one that gave both Rod Stewart and Elton John each their first break in music back in the very early 1960s. Reginald Dwight renamed himself Elton John in gratitude for his patron John Baldry giving him a chance. Oh, Baldry's nickname, Long John, is due to his 6'7" (200+ cm) stature.

Baldry's first big group was Steampacket in 1964. Rod Stewart and Julie Driscoll sang backup and harmony for Baldry. Julie (along with Verushka) was actually one of the the top Super Models of her day. She only sang when she wasn't modeling. Brian Auger's Hammond B2 organ provided a distintive sound with the group's vocals.

Stewart then sang with Jeff Beck. From Beck's group, Stewart and Beck bandmate (the pre-Rolling Stones Ron Wood) went on to revitalize the floundering Small Faces in 1969. Here is Stewart's 2005 tribute to Long John just a few days after Baldry's death.

Driscoll and Auger then collaborated to record Jools and Brian before their famous 1969 double album, Street Noise. If you have not listened to Driscoll's smokey, soulful voice you are missing a treat. On Street Noise she sings a slow, sultry version of Light My Fire, as well as the quirky Indian Rope Man, and my favorite cover of the joyous and often-recorded The Flesh Failures (Let the Sunshine In) from the Broadway musical Hair. This is what reviewers mean when the say "belts out a song".


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