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."

Written by Lisa on June 17, 2014


<span>Randy Bangert</span> on September 18, 2017


Unfortunately I never heard Zephyr in person but to this day the bathtub album is on my heavy rotation playlist. I grew up in Evergreen but never met Candy. Damn, the good die young.

<span>Dennis Latham</span> on November 6, 2017


I did an album with John Faris in 1989. He was the best keyboard player/saxaphone man I've ever heard. John died of pancreatic cancer in 2005.


I'm glad to hear to you speak up for John. He was a brilliant musician and I use what I learned from him every time I play. He doesn't get the attention he deserves.


John Faris played some of the coolest chords on the Hammond organ. They were jazzy at times and they complimented the music so much. John gave Zephyr it's "color." RIP

- Cent'anni David. You're the last of the mohicans now (at least of the original incarnation of the band.)

<span>Charles Krenz</span> on November 18, 2017


Just picked up 'Live at Arts bar'...promptly took me back to the Mercury Cafe...
Great memories of a fabulous era in Denver......

<span>Jared Z</span> on December 23, 2017


I learned of zephyr through bolin and guitar in the 80s. Although, I didn't hear it until early 2000s, the album 'sunset ride' is by far, my favorite output from zephyr. Its restrained and melocholic , a 5 star album. Totally stands test of time


Thanks, Jared Z. Appreciate your interest and kind words. DG

<span>Lawrence</span> on January 10, 2018


From my era, Vietnam, they were the best. No one has come close to Tommy and Candy.

<span>lmp</span> on January 12, 2018


January 2018, and I’m telling my husband about the green Zephyr album and playing Sun’s A Risin’ song. I have this on vinyl. A gift from a friend of my Mom, when I was around 14, because they knew I loved music.

<span>jonathan</span> on February 22, 2018


i have been into the band since day 1 she could really sing. it was her and janis then