British singer LONG JOHN BALDRY has died in Vancouver, Canada after battling a chest infection for four months. He was 64.

One of the first Brits to perform folk and blues music as a teenager in the 1950s, Baldry teamed up with blues godfather ALEXIS KORNER in influential R+B group BLUES INCORPORATED in the 1960s and helped to mentor rock greats like Mick Jagger and CREAM star Jack Bruce.

He later split from Korner and formed LONG JOHN BALDRY + HIS HOOCHIE COOCHIE MEN with Rod Stewart and blues supergroup STEAMPACKET with Stewart, BRIAN AUGER and JULIE DRISCOLL.

He also fronted BLUESOLOGY and signed Elton John as his keyboard player.

But, despite his links to the blues, his biggest hit came in 1967 with solo orchestrated pop tune LET THE HEARTACHES BEGIN, which reached number one in Britain.

He later teamed up with Stewart and Elton John again when they shared production duties on his early 1970s albums DON'T TRY TO LAY NO BOOGIE-WOOGIE ON THE KING OF ROCK `N' ROLL and EVERYTHING STOPS FOR TEA.

He became a Canadian citizen in 1980 and though he continued to record through the 1980s, he became better known for his voiceover work and became the voice of SONIC THE HEDGEHOG character CAPTAIN ROBOTNICK and narrated WINNIE THE POOH recordings for Disney.

Baldry is perhaps best known for his celebrity pals - not only did he give Rod Stewart and Elton John their big breaks, he also inspired Eric Clapton and befriended Paul McCartney.

23/07/2005 01:39