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."
Hey man, cannot say enough about Candy and Zephyr. I would love to have a copy of those pictures, glad to compensate you for them. Missed Zephyr, Damm, but when I heard them, it was like seeing Janis at Frankfurt, Germany, 22/4/69 at Jahrhunderhalle.
Lisa, I have been blocked from leaving comments in response to several people who have made remarks regarding this post. I tried to leave a web address where they can contact me. Is this not allowed? Please respond at your convenience. Thanks. DG
Hi Mr. Givens:
It is our practice to strip put personal email addresses in blog post comments after forwarding them to the post's author in the event that you're requesting a direct reply from the author. The best way to get a direct reply from the author to your questions via email is to use our Comment Form. I'd include the URL of this blog post in the form, as well as your email address. If you are intending to have others who are commenting on this blog post contact you, please leave a website address or Facebook address as a comment on this post where people can get a hold of you. Best of luck!
Hi David: Please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Great article, miss Candy.
Hopefully David Givens replies to this.
David, first and foremost, I am a HUGE Tommy Bolin fan, and perhaps Tommy's happiest (and rawest) playing of his short career is that first Zephyr album. I recently picked up that again via deluxe edition with all the extra live tracks. Sonically it is mind melting. You guys rocked, and Candy sounded fabulous and Tommy was just someone way ahead of his time.
I have the Going to California release and Sunset Ride, plus Live at Arts Bar and Grill.
My question is is their anything in the vaults possibly with Jock Bartley live? I will gobble up anything released in the future from anything Zephyr but just wondering on that.
Hi Dan. We remove email addresses from our blog posts, but the author has been in touch with David Givens and plans to pass your comment and address along to him.
I just wanted to say that I was so touched by Candy's voice that she was one of the influences in driving me to keep singing. A voice silenced way to soon.
I spent many decades trying to get thru CU,it seem like every time their was a final...Zephyr had a gig....it did take a Rhodes scholar to figure out what a group of us did that nite,thus I dedicate my 2.1gpa to them I was closest to Bolin ann Ferris.we kept a smile on their faces,if you know what I mean, I was closest to Tom,both being mid-west kids l believe tommy was the first to streak in his .you left out the PICKER GLOUCH PEOPLE... JEFF HYLAND/tom Bergh rip
RIP Candy one of the best female Rock & Roll singers of all time. Her music never gets old and her voice will haunt me forever!