Remembering Candy Givens and Zephyr

Remembering Candy Givens and Zephyr
Remembering Candy Givens and Zephyr Remembering Candy Givens and Zephyr

If you picked up a newspaper on January 27th, 1984, the big news was Michael Jackson's head catching fire during the filming of a Pepsi commercial. A less splashy story was the accidental death of Candy Givens, the 37-year old singer, songwriter and harmonica player of the bluesy Boulder hard rock band Zephyr.

Born in 1947, Candy Ramey came from a family of gamblers and small-time outlaws. They lived in a cabin near Evergreen, but moved to Applewood, a suburb near Golden, when Candy was in the 7th grade. Smart and popular, she was voted most likely to become a famous singer her senior year.

By 1967, Candy had moved to Aspen and performed in a local jug band. She met her future husband, bass guitar player David Givens, and in 1968 the couple moved to Boulder, where they formed the band Brown Sugar. The incredibly gifted guitarist Tommy Bolin and keyboardist John Faris began jamming with the group, and, after the recruitment of Denver drummer Robbie Chamberlain, Zephyr was formed.

Givens had a magnetic stage presence, and a powerful voice in a tiny body. "Candy Givens was a unique musical star that streaked across the Colorado sky and disappeared unexpectedly," observes rock journalist and educator Gil Asakawa. "She had a powerful, throaty voice that could scream the highest rock and roll notes but swoop down to the lowest moaning blues. Her recording with the Colorado band Zephyr are her main legacy, but her voice -- and stories about her -- are scattered here and there within and throughout the local music scene."

Though never a commercial success, Zephyr produced 3 albums and performed live often, including the 1969 Denver Pop Festival, before breaking up in the early '70s. They reunited briefly around 1980, four years after the drug overdose death of Tommy Bolin.

Four years later, Candy drowned in her apartment's Jacuzzi. The toxicology report showed alcohol and Quaaludes in her system.

Years later, in the Tommy Bolin Archives, Candy's ex-husband David wrote:

"Despite her problems, she continued to improve until the last time I heard her sing, in 1983. She was so good by then, that she held a drunken, rowdy party of international rugby players spellbound for the entire time she was on stage. That’s hard."

Comments

Did Candy sing in Wimbereley Texas?

Saw Zephyr open for The Byrds in 1969 at Thelma's, a small club on Sunset in LA. To this day I still can picture Candy and hear her incredible voice and that soulful harmonica. She was a true talent fronting a great band.

Zephyr was a cult favorite when I was in High School - Michigan City, IN, 1975-76. I hadn't heard their music in 20 years until I resurrected my turntable and played the familiar Sunset Ride. Candy is phenomenal. I'm so sorry to hear of her too soon demise. She touched many with her soulful voice. I hope to be able to recreate some of that music myself. Zephyr plays on!

I saw Zephyr at the Denver Pop Festival in '69, and opening for Zeppelin, early in '70 - what a show that was! In my head I can still hear the ending of their knockout version of St. James Infirmary - unbelievable. Tommy was always amazing of course, but Candy was so energetic and such a powerful singer. David Givens's bass drove the band like a tidal wave, and Robbie Chamberlain was a red hot drummer - way underrated - I enjoyed his playing that night every bit as much as what Binzo did with Zeppelin. Wish they had been able to go farther - they deserved to.

Bonzo

I saw them I believe at the Silver Spring, MD.in 1970. SHe was quite incredible singing,dancing and playing the harmonica. I would compare her to Mick Jagger.Great show for $5.00.

A friend from Boulder , Co told me if I ever had the chance to see Zephyr to see them. In 1970 they came to a community center in Silver Spring, MD I believe. My best friend and I spent the best $5.00 we ever spent on a rock show. Candy sang, played the harmonica and danced comparatively to Mick Jagger.

Don't do social media, thinking about that SILVER photo shoot and wondering about Rocky. Hey, David, having lots of dreams about music.....any up-dates on Robbie? Roz said he may need help and I would like to know what I might do... Anne Perret

Was around 11. My best friend and I were forming our own band - The Graveyard Blues Band, and we came across the Zephyr album. St. James Infirmary just knocked me out. I've never forgotten how much I enjoyed everything about that album but lost track a few years later.

A couple of years ago I did a search on Spotify and to my amazement, the album I owned as pre-teen showed up. Now you can buy the Deluxe version with live performances. Totally underrated band. LLZ!

Used to go see you at Ebbett's Field in the mid 70's. The band was a magnificent groove monster and a game changer for me. Recall Ed Cassidy of Spirit being in the audience as well.

Post new comment