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."
I talked to David Givens last fall and he gave me his phone number because i have a recording of Zephyr the friday just before they were suppose to go into the studio to record their first album since Tommy Bolin died. I got the whole evening on 10.5" Maxell mastering tape on a Teac A-6300 and i have stored it very well. I have listened to it just 3 times over the years and i want David to have it before i die. My health has been bad for some time now, and i have tried calling David a couple times and sent him a couple of texts but i have had no response. He told me he and his wife might be out here in Colorado in the spring and i could give my recording to him then. If anyone out there can get in touch with David please tell him Pitto is trying to find him and to please call me, he has my number and i left it with my messages in case he might have lost it. Thank you, he sounded a bit excited when we talked and i hope he can put out some more good Zephyr music soon.
Pitto - I will try to reach you. Didn't know you were trying to call me.
Saw the reformed Zephyr in 1980, Friday afternoon at the weekly beer garden gig outside the original Harvest House. Developed a crush on Candy. She oozed talent. Duplicitous management in the music industry struck again. My other fave was Woody and the Too High Band.
Michael Woody and his wife, Diane, are now songwriters/performers working in Nashville. Great people.
Those duplicitous managers turned out to be lethal for a lot of the very talented people who were dear to me.
When I was eight my older brother introduced me to Rock and Blues. Zephyr was his favorite band along with Grand Funk and Johnny Winter. For the rest of my life I have been listening to all three and never tiring. When I heard Candy play the harp it touched my heart like no other instrument. I have now been playing the harp for 45 years. I owe so much of my style of playing to her.
Thank you Candy! You're a musical genius!
I was a drummer for Stray Cat Lee Rocker, but this is not about me. I have been a huge fan of Zephyr since the early70's, probably more so since the American Bandstand fiasco ! I knew then the "fat cats" had a toehold on the band!
The point being, just got Live at Arts, again, Candy got Sabotaged. You All deserve much more ! There is a film hidden in the lives of Candy and Tommy and Zephyr. The screen play writes itself ! Zephyr needs to be recognized for the Band it was personal problems included ! A film waiting to be made ! Hope someone has connections to pitch the idea to someone who can see the rich potential of your story and careers!
In 1969, I was 13. I am black and part native American. I never heard of Zephyr until today but to this day I feel Tommy Bolin's spirit and miss him. I still play and love his music to this day. I followed his career from the days of Deep Purple right through to Teaser and Private Eyes. I know every word and every chord of every song on both albums. And now I know who his family was and is.....all of you and I'm honored and blessed to know now. And now, I'm going to listen to "People, People!!!" Thank you and bless you all. And remember, " Don't let your mind Post Toastee!!"
The 4Nikators opened up the Boulder Theatre on Halloween night with Candy belting out the vocals. The band was so on that night, and yes, even the motorcycle came on stage for "Leader of the Pack" as Candy rode away on it stage right at it's conclusion. Candy & the band treated me and the rest of the crew with class and respect, may you RIP.
I was blown away in 69 when I first heard them ( Zephyr) .....missed my opportunity to see them at the Fillmore East (with The Who) ....but I've never heard anything like her and them since....those first two albums show her amazing versatility....she never got to show the world what she was...so I treasure my undiscovered discovery RIP..I miss you
The first recordings of Tommy I heard where from ENERGY. I connected right away with the style of playing and nice tones. Then listening to the musical compositions, made me even more interested. I noticed Tommy had something different that anyone I heard before, that groove feel / rock feel at the same time. Could go on forever but to make it short huge influence . Thank you
Bolin family for your gift to us.