Take a hard look around you, babe. There ain’t nobody got it made. So you can live in your head. Or you can live in your heart. But if you don’t live at all. Then why the hell did you start?Long John Baldry, lyrics from ‘Thrill’s a thrill’
Yesterday, I was out walking for some exercise. I play music from my iPhone into my Bose earbuds as I walk. It makes the time pass very quickly. Sometimes I catch myself walking faster to a quick beat in the tune. The album that I listened to yesterday was by Long John Baldry, the famed blues man and one of my favourite musical artists. It reminded me of this story which I share with you today to demonstrate my shame…..
Many, many years ago, perhaps in 1980, I left on a very early morning flight on a Thursday, flying from Toronto to Los Angeles. I worked in LA for the remainder of the day and then grabbed a red eye flight from LA to New York City. I hate red eye flights and can never sleep on them. On the Friday, I worked in Manhattan and then grabbed a flight about 5:00 pm back to Toronto. I was pretty desperate for sleep by the time I landed back in Toronto. It was a whirlwind trip.
However, once I landed, I drove directly to the illustrious El Macambo bar on Spadina Road downtown in the heart of the city. A group of friends and I had the best seats in the house reserved to hear the greatest blues band ever – Long John Baldry, along with Kathi McDonald.
They were a fantastic blues band. They had a hit remake of “You lost that loving feeling” which is better than the original. I especially enjoyed his song, “A thrill is a thrill”. It was a great chance to hear Baldry live. He had a band in the UK in his youth that at one time included Elton John on keyboards and Rod Stewart sharing vocals with Baldry, both as supporting talent. When Reg Dwight changed his stage name to launch his solo career, to Elton John, the surname came from Baldry. Incredible, right?
Today, most people have little knowledge of Baldry or his music. He played with all the British superstars of the 60s and 70s – Mick Jagger, Paul McCartney, Rod Stewart, Eric Clapton, Elton John, and many, many more.
Baldry and McDonald were stellar and had cult-like status for those of us who knew of them. Their voices were so textured and authentic.
I arrived at the El Mo and was in pretty good alertness for the first set, but during the second set, at about 10:45 pm, I faded rapidly and fell asleep in the front row. Our seats were on the dance floor upstairs, so I could lean my head back against a railing. The next day, I was so ashamed that I slept through some of the best music of my youth. And it was super loud too. One of the benefits of growing up in a very large family like I did is the super power ability to sleep anywhere, at anytime, with excessive volumes of noise blaring around you.
Fast forward a few weeks later, and I was working in Vancouver at Gastown Productions. We were installing a Rank Cintel flying spot scanner for film to tape conversion at this legendary post-production facility. During the lunch hour one day, the Gastown President, Tom, invited me to go upstairs to tour Water Street Sound, the world class audio recording facility that had recently opened. When we go into the recording studio, there is Baldry and McDonald in the process of cutting a new album. I was stunned. Here I was, face to face with the man himself who towered over me. He was called Long John for a good reason. Tom introduced me to Long John Baldry, and I immediately yammered on and on about being his greatest fan. Then, he said, “Hey, you look familiar”. OMG, no! I thought.
I was horrified when he realized that I was the guy who fell asleep at the El Mo in the front row just two weeks prior. I was immediately ashamed to be found out. Some “greatest fan,” I turned out to be.
Yes, I am still embarrassed about it now over 40+ years later. Baldry was a truly great and unique artist and remains one of the most powerful musical influences of my life, even today. He passed away over 15 years ago from cancer. Yes, he is gone, but never forgotten. I hope you enjoy the power of his voice, along with Kathi. She is also passed away. So, there musical journey has ended, which is a loss to us all.
You should listen to one or two of his many albums. With earbuds, it is exceptional music.
Note that this video clip recording is substandard and nowhere near as good as hearing them live, or from the album – even if it was heard in my dreams….. lol
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About the Author:
Michael Martin is the Vice President of Technology with Metercor Inc., a Smart Meter, IoT, and Smart City systems integrator based in Canada. He has more than 35 years of experience in systems design for applications that use broadband networks, optical fibre, wireless, and digital communications technologies. He is a business and technology consultant. He was senior executive consultant for 15 years with IBM, where he has worked in the GBS Global Center of Competency for Energy and Utilities and the GTS Global Center of Excellence for Energy and Utilities. He is a founding partner and President of MICAN Communications and before that was President of Comlink Systems Limited and Ensat Broadcast Services, Inc., both divisions of Cygnal Technologies Corporation (CYN: TSX). Martin currently serves on the Board of Directors for TeraGo Inc (TGO: TSX) and previously served on the Board of Directors for Avante Logixx Inc. (XX: TSX.V). He has served as a Member, SCC ISO-IEC JTC 1/SC-41 – Internet of Things and related technologies, ISO – International Organization for Standardization, and as a member of the NIST SP 500-325 Fog Computing Conceptual Model, National Institute of Standards and Technology. He served on the Board of Governors of the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) [now OntarioTech University] and on the Board of Advisers of five different Colleges in Ontario. For 16 years he served on the Board of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE), Toronto Section. He holds three master’s degrees, in business (MBA), communication (MA), and education (MEd). As well, he has three undergraduate diplomas and five certifications in business, computer programming, internetworking, project management, media, photography, and communication technology. He has earned 20 badges in next generation MOOC continuous education in IoT, Cloud, AI and Cognitive systems, Blockchain, Agile, Big Data, Design Thinking, Security, and more.