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."
Absolutely great music very much missing from the Great Lakes region...
I first heard Z on Dick Clark's Band Stand and fews years later as a die hard fan traveling Boulder, Nederland, Denver, Lookout Mountain then Southern California. So glad to hear that David is re-releasing.
1969-16 years old-just discovered I had a voice (after it changed!), suddenly my hair was cool (Jewfro), and I bought my first pair of Jeans with a Gray "Pea Coat"! My favorite rock/blues song-Zephyr's Interpretation of St. James Infirmary! 45 years later-STILL fresh & ROCKS!!!
I saw Zephyr live in a small 3.2 beer dive on South Santa Fe Drive, Denver in 1969. Was very impressed.
I talked at length with John Faris, the keyboardist, at breaks. Did not know he was deceased. When, where and how, anyone? Thanks.
John died about six years ago of pancreatic cancer in his hometown, Cincinnati.
Thank you, David. He told me he was from Cincinnati. I liked him. He seemed like a mellow, nice guy. Certainly knew quality music.
I saw Zephyr in 1974 for $4 at the Wulhurst Manor, S. Santa Fe Dr., Littleton, CO. Wow. Could Tommy Bolin ever play the guitar!
That was me playing the guitar, not Tommy. Glad you liked the show.
This music still sounds great.
I saw Zephyr at a Barry Fay winter show in '69 (Denver Coliseum). The bill included The Flock, Johnny Winter, and Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac. Quite the concert!
I was amazed at the very young Tommy Bolin's guitar playing, and Candy Given's vocals and stage presence.
I agree; the music scene in Colorado was hot in the '70s.
I was there. Tickets were $3.50 and $3.00 general admission. Imagine all that talent for that small price. Only bad thing was the sound at the Coliseum was awful. Remember Barry Fey singing the "days of Christmas" advert on the radio?