British Blues & Long John Baldry
The British Blues Scene of the 1960’s
I’ve always listened to a variety of music which I encourage you to do, as well. So while I was listening to Bob Dylan, I was also playing my guitar along with John Lee Hooker’s, double album, “Mad Man Blues” and James Taylor’s, “Sweet Baby James.” Still at that time playing the blues felt like a mission to me. Read More
From 1969 to 1974 or ’75, I was a serious student of the blues. Yes, I was also a Bob Dylan fanatic but if you listen to his early music and, in fact, much of all of his music you will see that he was greatly influenced by blues music, as well. A fact he acknowledged in his autobiography, “Chronicles: Volume One“.
Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee w Otis Spann – Walk On (Live France 1964)
Still I listened seriously, and with intent, to records by, Lightnin’ Hopkins, B.B. King, Albert King, Brownie McGhee, Sonny Terry, Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Memphis Slim, Otis Spann, and so on. I also liked the newer Rock and Blues like John Mayall and the Rolling Stones. My love of folk music connected me to the early Faces and Rod Stewart. It was, then, inevitable that I would become aware of Long John Baldry…
Don’t try to lay no Boogie Woogie,…
Long John Baldry, so called because he stood 6’7″ tall was a part of the British blues-rock scene of the 1960’s. Born in East Haddon, Northamptonshire, England in 1941, he started out as a folk musician and toured Europe for a time with Ramblin’ Jack Elliot.
He eventually played with Alexis Korner and Blues Incorporated as well as Cyril Davies’, Rhythm and Blues All Stars which solidified his reputation as a player in the British blues scene. In 1964 he saw Rod Stewart busking in a British train station and invited Stewart join his band, The Hoochie Coochie Men. Following that he put together a group called, Steampacket and then a group called Bluesology which included the piano man, Reginald Dwight, who later changed his name to Elton John. His famous collaborators at various concerts during the 1960s include, Jimmy Page (from Led Zepplin) as well as Rod Stewart, and Elton John. Rod Stewart has often credited Baldry’s attention with greatly contributing to Stewart’s own success.
Baldry is also known for being the voice of Dr. Ivo Robotnik, the main adversary in the video game-based cartoon series Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog (1993).
Later on he turned to Pop music and had a hit with, “”Let the Heartaches Begin” in 1968. He took some time off from music in the mid-1970’s and moved to Canada in 1980. He died a Canadian citizen in Vancouver, British Columbia, in 2005.
Ron Davies’, “It Ain’t Easy”
John Baldry’s supporting musicians…
Baldy’s album, “It Ain’t Easy” includes a list of musicians that encompasses the best of the “60’s British blues movement. The song “It Ain’t Easy” includes Rikki Brown on Bass, – Mickie Waller on Drums, Ron Wood on Electric Guitar, Ian Armit on Piano, Sam Mitchell on Resonator Guitar (Dobro Steel Guitar), and Maggie Bell as the female Vocalist. The song was written by Ron Davies.
Rikki Brown was a member in groups that included Screaming Lord Sutch & The Savages which also included a young Nicky Hopkins. He was a guest bassist for John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers and also played for Cyril Davies, Brian Auger & The Trinity, Steampacket which included Rod Stewart, and for a while, Georgie Fame & The Blue Flames. Later in his career he worked with Carlo Little’s All Stars, which included Ronnie Wood’s older brother Art Wood
Mickie Waller work on sessions for many artists, including, Brian Auger, Jimmy Page, Rod Stewart, Ron Nagle, Billy Bragg, The Walker Brothers, Dusty Springfield, Elton John and Paul McCartney.
Ron Wood is of course a very well-known guitarist, famous for a ton of session work and his work with Jeff Beck Group, Rod Stewart, and Faces. He has been a steady member of The Rolling Stones since February, 1976.
Ian Armit was a jazz pianist and composer from Scotland. He was in groups including, The Hoochie Coochie Men, The Wally Fawkes-Sandy Brown Quintet, and Wally Fawkes And The Troglodytes.
Rod Stewart singing, “Gasoline Alley”
Sam Mitchell was discovered playing in London folk clubs by John Baldry and Rod Stewart. His trademark instrument was a National Steel guitar. He put out his first recording called, “Firepoint” in 1969. He recorded for Rod Stewart in 1970 on “Gasoline Alley” and in ’71 on “Every Picture Tells A Story”. From 1976 he worked with his own trio, Sam Mitchell Blues Band. In the 80’s he worked with Dana Gillespie’s blues band. In the late ’80’s Mitchell joined the Danish rock band, The Sandmen. The band split up after five albums, in 1979.
Maggie Bell is a singer from Scotland. She also performed with the groups, Frankie And Johnny, the Jon Lord Blues Project, Midnight Flyer, and Stone The Crows.
“It Ain’t Easy” was covered by many artists including, Three Dog Night, Dave Edmunds, David Bowie, and Shelby Lynne.
Ron Davies – Singer/Songwriter
Ron Davies was a singer-songwriter from Shreveport, Louisiana. He died in 2003 in Nashville, Tennessee. This excerpt from the Ron Davies says it well;
“…His compositions have been recorded by such iconic artists as: Jack White and The Raconteurs, Joe Cocker, Anne Murray, Long John Baldry, Joan Baez, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Dolly Parton, Three Dog Night, Shelby Lynne, David Bowie, Helen Reddy, John Kay of Steppenwolf, Bettye Lavette, Jerry Jeff Walker, Maria Muldaur, Ricky Skaggs, Claudia Lennear, Glenn Yarborough, Nancy Griffith, Mitch Rider of Detroit, Alison Krauss, Dobie Gray, Gail Davies and Vince Gill. His songs have also appeared in two movies, Go Ask Alice and Lost in America.” (http://www.rondavies.info/recordings.html)
Bonnie Bramlett singing, “Lay My Body Down”
“…bring you ’round home again…”
So… I went many years with this song rattling around in my head until I decided to start covering it. This song shows a group of musicians that worked together and played together. I find a peace and excitement in this Baldry recording that takes me back to my early music beginnings.
I provided more song links than usual in this post; I hope you enjoy them. There are some Amazon links which I would encourage you to check out. (Yes, I am an affiliate but please don’t let that lessen your enthusiasm. I already have everything here I linked to…)
- Are you familiar with these players?
- Have you read Dylan’s book?… What did you think?
- What would you like to see for my next beginner guitar lesson?
Let me know below or drop me a line…
About Willy Kelly
I am a musician and a music educator. My goal is to educate, entertain, and encourage you, to play more, know more, and listen to more music. I present my musical views, songwriting projects, recordings, and regular performances of the music I love in this (almost) weekly blog. Please check out my YouTube channel for more of me and the music I like.
I have decades of experience in performing, touring, recording, mixing, and producing music. I have a Masters degree in music education and many years of teaching experience in public schools, colleges, and giving private lessons. I am happily married to Donna Newhouse Kelly and together we have four adult children, a dog, and three cats. (Whew!)
Donna and I live on the beautiful coast of Maine…