R.I.P. Duffy Power

Duffy Power, 1941 - 2014

Sad to learn of the death last week of Duffy Power in February, age 72. Duffy who? Fair question. He was born Raymond Leslie Howard in West London in 1941, but was given his stage name by the notorious Larry Parnes, the pop impresario whose stable of manufactured teen idols also included Georgie Fame, Marty Wilde, Billy Fury and Vince Eager. Duffy never made it as an idol, but his heart wasn’t in teen pop anyway; he was a bluesman at heart, as his post-Parnes productions prove. Only the second artist ever to cover a Beatles song, his 1963 recording of ‘I Saw Her Standing There’ is very cool, with backing from none other than Jack Bruce, Ginger Baker and John McLaughlin. Subject to long spells of depression and reclusiveness, Duffy nevertheless left a small trail of recordings, from his intense mid-60s sides with McLaughlin right up to his delicate acoustic albu m Tigers, recorded in the early noughts and released just a year ago.

I was first alerted to Duffy Power by James Hunter, a great singer/guitarist in his own right (Colchester’s answer to Sam Cooke) when I asked who he thought was the finest British blues artist. I was expecting to be offered one of the usual suspects - Peter Green, Eric Clapton... Instead, Hunter directed me to Power, and hearing him confirmed him as being that rare British blues singer who had truly found his own voice. He didn’t mimic or affect black American mannerisms, yet his performances are as full of emotion and natural melodic detail as the greatest blues. What a shame there won’t be any more.

 Listen here and here

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