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."
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I was lucky enough to live in their "garage" on 8th St. Listened to them practice all the time. Bad to the bone band.
“At this very moment “heard it so many times as they practiced it. . Candys voice. OMG. They had awesome vegetable garden between their house and the “garage I lived in. Showed Candy how to grow weed in between the tomatoes. David. Perhaps you remember my 47 Black Chevy Stylmaster.
Maybe I’m wrong. It was a converted garage into a home. 2 bedrooms upstairs. One bathroom. Boulder. 8th Street. The HIll. The huge wtf is the support beam out side. Haunted relocated house across the Street.
Left upstairs to our bedroom. Right to Steve’s
stare zajebiste granie
In 1970, I was 17 and I was living in a halfway house in Tallahassee. There was a festival at Florida State University that late summer that featured bands like Elephants Memory, PG&E , Zephyr and a few more...the mind dulls. What I do remember was that Zephyr brought us to our feet...what with Candy's voice and Tommy's axe. First time I ever heard an EchoPlex and a chick who played a bad ass harp. Cross The River, Hard Chargin' Woman, St James Infirmary were all part of that show. 50 years later, and it still brings me to tears when I think about that time. So glad I found this site. But for the grace of God, and a blues woman like Candy Givens and her old man, David did I keep my own flame alive and made the blues my home. It's late, I know...but I wanted to say RIP, Candy. Thank you so much.
Thanks, Tom. I'm sure Candy would be (is?) pleased that she made a positive difference with you.
I heard Zephyr Sunset Ride the first time in 1972 on underground radio while I stationed in Norfolk, I have loved it ever since, I worked in the Record Bar in Pensacola after I got out and played a lot for customers. The guitar work, base and Candy’s vocals and harmonic will never stop being great music. I’m 70 now and just got thru listening to her in shuffle play and had to go out and find out what happened to this great group who never got the fame they deserved.
I first saw the awesome band Zephyr in Milwaukee when I was on hiatus from my rock band 'Sweet Smoke' from Dallas. Faris didn't have a keyboard for the gig, and I was scrambling to get a board to the club but couldn't pull it off as my van was parked a mile away. Nonetheless, they did a great show, I was blown away by Candy's voice and performance. Afterward, I was invited to a party with the band at an underground basement on Milwaukee's east side. Everybody thought they were super cool to be there, but I was just happy as hell to meet and talk to Candy. David thought I was hitting on her, but I wasn't - just a 19 year old musician who was star-struck with Candy and the band. They were truly really really good, even without keys. I also met their drummer Robbie - he was disenchanted with the band for some reason I never understood (who would want to leave the Zephyr???). So we (my band) were in talks with Robbie to join up with us. Went to Boulder to get together with him, but as it turned out he didn't want to tour - likely why he left Zephyr but I'll never know that. It was all an experience. The Sweet Smoke went on to tour with the Zeppelin, Jethro Tull, Hendrix (Hendrix jammed with The Smoke after one of his concerts in San Antonio - during the Hemisfare quasi world's fair in '68. He came to our after hours club quite stoned on acid and we asked him to sit in with us (we were the headliner at the club - Love Street Light Circus - and he did so playing a half set using our guitar player's guitar. But I digress. This post is about the Zephyr and how great they were and my experiences with them - one of those once in a lifetime things that just happened. One of those things that you never forget. So sad that Candy passed away - that shouldn't have happened - RIP Candy. So I'm still playing keys in So. Cal - casinos mostly and writing and pitching originals. Life goes on. G