Inducted: December 3, 2019

Zephyr

No one who ever saw Candy Givens perform with Zephyr can forget her vocal power or her energetic presence. Dr. Kevin Fitzgerald — veterinarian, comedian and longtime music fan — remembers her as “a force of nature.”

Whether Zephyr was opening for Jimi Hendrix at the Denver Pop Festival, playing Mammoth Gardens or tearing the roof off the Fillmore West with Jeff Beck, it was the band to see in an incredible era of rock music.

Candy Ramey was born in 1946 and grew up around Evergreen and Golden. Her love of music and powerful voice got her voted “most likely to become a famous singer” in her senior year at Golden High School. She attended the University of Northern Colorado with plans to become a teacher.

But music was her focus, and she ended up in San Francisco, where she made her radio debut playing guitar and singing on a Chinese-language station. A year later, she moved to Aspen and joined the Piltdown Philharmonic Jug Band. She also met David Givens, a songwriter and guitar and bass player. They moved to Boulder with David’s band, Brown Sugar, and were married in October 1968.

Candy and David Zephyr

Brown Sugar formed the beginnings of Zephyr, which came together following a jam with guitar wizard Tommy Bolin at the Buff Room on the Hill. Candy and David joined keyboardist and flutist John Faris and Bolin as Ethereal Zephyr, adding Robbie Chamberlin on drums.

The act burst onto the Colorado music scene with several explosive shows, starting at the Sink in Boulder and the University of Colorado’s Glenn Miller Ballroom, later opening for John Mayall at Macky Auditorium. The group built its reputation through early shows at Reed’s Ranch with the Grateful Dead, free concerts at the Boulder Bandshell, and gigs at San Francisco’s Avalon Ballroom and the Whisky a Go Go in Los Angeles.

With Candy’s stage presence, songwriting, vocals and harp, Bolin’s magical guitar solos and the power of the Zephyr rhythm section, the band honed its blues/jazz/rock sound on shows with Led Zeppelin, Mountain, Joe Cocker, Spirit and Fleetwood Mac, and established a loyal fan base across the U.S. and in Canada, Europe, Japan and Australia. Zephyr was the logical heir to a small dynasty of influential women-fronted bands of the late 1960s.

But logic and destiny don’t always unfold as expected.

Zephyr’s second album was recorded for Warner Bros. with producer/engineer Eddie Kramer at Jimi Hendrix’s Electric Lady studios  in New York. Sadly, Hendrix died the day before he was to return to complete Cry of Love, and the Zephyr project was adversely affected by the ensuing chaos. Going Back to Colorado was released in 1971.

The album was favorably reviewed in Rolling Stone by Lester Bangs; local journalist Gil Asakawa noted Candy’s “powerful, throaty voice that could scream the highest rock-and-roll notes but swoop down to the lowest moaning blues.” But Warner Bros. wasn’t happy with sales and gave Colorado only half-hearted promotion.

Zephyr

zephyr_barn_best_version

Coupled with mismanagement back home, Zephyr never achieved the commercial success that fans thought the band deserved. According to David Givens, promoter Barry Fey turned his attention to Bolin.

David and Candy put together a new lineup and recorded Sunset Ride, a fan favorite. David produced the album and wrote most of the songs. Bolin was replaced on guitar by Jock Bartley, with Michael Wooten on drums. Over the next ten years, Zephyr’s evolving roster would include Otis Taylor, Eddie Turner, Rob Rio, Bobby Berge and others.

Zephyr disbanded shortly after releasing Heartbeat in 1982. Candy and David were planning a blues album when she died in a drug-related drowning on January 27, 1984.

In 2014, Greg Hampton and David Givens remastered and repackaged Zephyr’s self-titled debut, then did the same for Going Back to Colorado, adding previously unreleased material in a boxed set titled Leaving Colorado. David is currently remixing Sunset Ride and Heartbeat.

In 2019, the Colorado Music Hall of Fame was proud to induct Candy Ramey Givens and Zephyr.

Zephyr Discography

1982 – Zephyr Heartbeat

1969 – Zephyr

1972 – Sunset Ride

1971 – Going Back to Colorado

1997 – Zephyr Live at Art’s Bar and Grill

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