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Elton John World News: A Preview of ''It Ain't Easy''

A Preview of ''It Ain't Easy''-- Posted by This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Friday 17 August 2007 @ 17:21 - GMT

Next month will see the publication of It Ain't Easy: Long John Baldry And The Birth of The British Blues.

The author, Paul Myers, previously wrote Barenaked Ladies: Public Stunts, Private Stories. His writing has also appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, Vancouver Sun and the Globe and Mail, to cite just a few examples.

Other vocations include broadcasting, during which he appeared on CBC Radio and CTV Television and contributed to VH1 as well playing guitar and writing songs.

With his latest project, Paul offers a vivid, if sometimes conflicting, view of Long John Baldry.

The singer was generally considered to be a gentleman, yet he could be sarcastic and was fond of imitating people.

Still, he was partial to animals, and even rescued a goat which became his pet.

Although he enjoyed the company of a few girlfriends, the entertainer was a gay man. Still, he didn't advertise his preference. In fact, much to his chagrin, his masculine manner and voice tended to attract a goodly number of females.

Also, time and again, he would be successful, then suffer a let-down. These included poor record sales and crooked managers. He also tended to drink too much, and wasn't always prompt for his performances.

The names Baldry came into contact with are legion, including the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. A particularly close friend was Rod Stewart. He is mentioned a lot in the biography, and one incident in particular stands out: Rod was once in a car accident with his mentor, and claimed he was dying because he was covered with blood. Baldry stuck a finger in the red mess, and observed it was part of the take-out they had ordered . . . chicken vindaloo.

Another pal is Elton, who is seen in a photograph at London's popular Speakeasy with the older singer, Pete Townshend, Alan Price and Eric Clapton.

Like Stewart, he plays an important role in Baldry's life, backing him while in Bluesology and producing a couple of his records later on.

Elton has only kind words to say about the artist, although he was known to do a parody of Let The Heartaches Begin since he felt Baldry's blues talent was ''kind of laid to waste'' with the ''embarrassing'' hit.

The man he once called ''the boss'' was many things to him.

Elton considers him an influence who saved his life by suggesting he loved Bernie Taupin more than the woman he was about to wed.

He believes it is a shame that some have to wait until they die to get mass recognition, pointing out that Johnny Cash had a #1 album in the U.S. after he passed on, while Nina Simone ''was totally underrated until she died.''

Also tragic is the ill health Baldry suffered for years before his death. Yet there is an amusing anecdote related by guitarist Lindsay Michell.

Lindsay was entrusted with the task of taking his buddy's ashes back to England. He explained to the flight attendant that his carry-on luggage consisted of the musician's urn, and asked if the legend would be worthy of ''one last upgrade to first class.''

The attendants were happy to comply, and the urn was moved up to the exclusive area. Mitchell, however, was left in coach.

The book concludes:

''It was the kind of funny but sad story that would sure have made Long John Baldry laugh uproariously. Even in death, he couldn't resist one more comic twist.''

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