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Long John Baldry
Blues legend Long John Baldry has died at age 64 at Vancouver General Hospital after a four-month battle with a severe chest infection.
Baldry's agent posted an announcement on the musician's website that Baldry had passed away Thursday night in Vancouver, where he had been living.
"Our world is a lesser place without him, for John was a person that enhanced this world with his enormous presence and talent," said the statement posted on the website.
The musician was admitted to the intensive care unit of Vancouver General in April after returning from a trip to his native Britain.
Baldry was nicknamed "Long John" because of his height – six foot seven – and had been living in Canada for the past 25 years.
The bluesman named Leadbelly, Muddy Waters, Bo Diddley and Chuck Berry as his musical influences.
Baldry, born in London in 1941, is recognized as one of the chief influences in British blues and rock music in the 1960s.
His seminal 1962 album, R&B From The Marquee is considered the first British blues album. Baldry hit the top of the singles charts there in 1967 with Let the Heartaches Begin. He also performed in the Beatles' first worldwide television special in April 1964.
During the last half of the 1960s, he led a band called Bluesology that included Reginald Dwight, who went on to become Elton John.
Baldry has released more than 40 albums, performing with a string of other famous musicians including Rod Stewart, Jimmy Page and Mick Jagger. The Rolling Stones opened for Baldry in London in the early 1960s before the Stones hit it big.
Stewart considered Baldry a mentor and was at his bedside when he was admitted to hospital in March.
In 1979, he teamed up with Seattle singer Kathi MacDonald to record a very successful version of You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'.
After spending time in New York City and Los Angeles in the late '70s, Baldry chose to settle permanently in Vancouver, and became a Canadian citizen in 1980.
He continued to record – for Stony Plains Records in Edmonton, owned by Holger Peterson who is also the host of CBC Radio's Saturday Night Blues.
"There are very few performers that I can think of that were as entertaining, as talented and as professional as Long John Baldry," he says.
Peterson also says two of Baldry's best-selling albums – It Ain't Easy, and Everything Stops For Tea – will be reissued by Stony Plain in the near future.
Baldry may be better known to many young people as the voice of Dr. Robotnik in the Sonic the Hedgehog video games and TV series.
nou.dadoun <at> gmail.com
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See the review in today's Toronto Star of Paul Myers' biography of Baldry.
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