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


john bell on April 7, 2017

In reply to by David Givens


hello. i thought i saw Zephyr with Mountain (with F. Pappalardi) in St. Louis in February 1971, but can not find a record of the concert. Can you confirm or deny? Is there a place to look this up? let me know. thanks. thank you.

John from Atlanta on April 7, 2017

In reply to by David Givens


I discovered Zephyr when I was at FSU (Florida) in 1970. So good that even without publucity, it reached into the catacombs of our dorm. Candy's voice blew me away as did the rest of the group. I had all 3 albums at one time and have recently been listening to the music again. I am a long time bass player and your bass playing is fantastic. It has inspired me over the years. And continues to do so. Thanks!!!

robert plewes on December 17, 2016


Having lived my life in Boulder , was at her townhouse at the time of her passing , have missed her today .


It's been 33 years, as of January 27, since she moved on. The time is coming when, if it works the way I hope it does, I'll see her again. Not too soon, mind you, but probably not another 33 years.

MARK HARRIS on February 9, 2017


David, is there somewhere out there the complete version of 'take my love' it drives me crazy that it fades just as Tommy takes a solo and i read that live Candy sang lead which would be great to hear!


The original multi track masters were disposed of by Warner Brothers and so the album version is all that's left unless Eddie Kramer has something. He ran a two track machine a lot of the time in the background.

Robert wickstrom. on February 18, 2017


It was an honor meeting the members of zephyr back in Colorado 1969 I grew with Tommy bolin back in Sioux City Iowa.

Mike Santillo on March 11, 2017


I saw Candy and Zephyr at the Boston Tea Party. Spring of 1969. They opened for Led Zeppelin right after Zeppelins first Album. Candys voice was so impressive and Zephyr was so good that I didnt care if Led Zeppelin even went on that night


I think Candy would be very happy to hear your review - I know I was. Thanks.

Ray S on April 24, 2017


I just got turned onto this music today. Amazing.