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Arts Diary: The long and short of 60s blues singer; Ex-pop idol, alias Captain Hook, Long John Baldry makes regular return trips to the NW from Canada. Philip Key reports.

Byline: Philip Key

LONG JOHN BALDRY is not quite so long these days. The blues man, who had some pop hits in the 1960s including Let The Heartaches begin, stood 6ft 7 ins in his prime.

Now aged 63, Baldry confesses he has lost some height. ``I guess I am around an inch shorter, '' he tells me with a bellowing laugh.

We are talking prior to his appearance at Chester's Alexander's Club where he appears tonight with slide guitarist Dave Kelly.

Baldry today lives in Vancouver -- he became a Canadian citizen in 1980 -- but regularly returns for tours in Britain.

The Derbyshire-born singer was one of the early acts at Liverpool's Cavern Club.

``It was really a jazz club in those days, '' he says. ``The Beatles were my support group.

``I remember Brian Epstein coming up to me and asking if they were any good. I told him they were okay. ''

Musically, Baldry admits he has always been flexible. From jazz and blues to pop ballads he has done it all.

But in those early days he was associated with jazz. ``I made my television debut with Acker Bilk. ''

Blues remains, however, the musical form for which he is best known and it is blues he will be delivering tonight.

But his career has been pretty diverse since moving to Canada.

He became, for example, the voice of Captain Robotnick, the enemy of the cartoon hero Sonic the Hedgehog.

And in Canada he is just as well known for his regular appearances as Captain Hook in Peter Pan.

``I have been doing the musical version by Comden and Green with music by Stephen Sondheim and Bernstein since 1988.

``I thoroughly enjoy it, playing both Mr Darling and, of course, Hook.

``It involves a lot of very fast changes backstage. ''

In this country it is his blues singing that has kept him very much in demand.

``This will be third visit to Britain this year, '' he said. p Long John Baldry is at Alexanders, Chester, tonight. Doors 8. 00pm, show 9. 30pm. Box office 01244 340005.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Nov 8, 2004
Words:345
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