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."
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!
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.
Did Candy sing in Wimbereley Texas?
I lived in their garage on 8th Street in early 70's. Listened to them practice most every day. Taught Candy and David , well mostly Candy, how to grow pot in their garden between the their house and our garage house. I had that black 1947 Chevy Stylemaster. Someone told me David lives on Maui. I'm on Hawaiʻi Island but see Maui from my home every sunset. David, if you are here, email me. DaHonu at Mindspring.com
I saw Zephyr as an opening act in St. Louis and never forgot this group. I cannot remember the Headliner they opened for ? Does anybody know of tour archives for this band ?
To whom it may concern:,
I happen to have 14 pictures I took at the outdoor concert in the foothills outside Gunnison Colorado of the entire band Zephyr. 7 contain Candy Givens singing, 3 strutting and 2 playing the harmonica. I also have probably the only 2 extant pictures of Candy Givens playing the keyboards live. This concert was sometime in the early 1970's with a blue grass band and a killer backdrop. And these pictures prove she was a female Mick Jagger, John Mayal and Rick Wakeman all rolled up into the most talented female artist I ever had the amazing luck to see, hear and photograph. I would be happy to donate copies of these photos to any venue to promote Zephyr as the greatest rock band ever to come out of Colorado. She makes Firefall look like a kiddie band. Feel free to contact me for copies or info on these photos. Cen
Hi Cen: I removed your email address from the comment but forwarded it to the author of this post. All the best!
I am so amazed and envious of what you have. Are you going to share? I wish you would. I loved Tommy but knew there was other forces that pushed his success. Share please!!
Hi Jerome: Could you contact me please? I'm Lisa, and my email address is: email@example.com
wow Gary you're quite the..., I was @ DPFestival as WELL, sorry I didn't c u there! But sadly I couldn't c 'em w/ Zep, 'ya know y? NEVER HAPPENED you "binzo" - so kinda doubt ur 1st claim as well. Tell me GH, on who's urging/recommendation did Z play a second set? don't know do ya?