The boisterous frontman was a godfather, a pioneer, and a hero.
By Fred Mills
Indie music fans were stunned this weekend to learn that Roy Loney had abruptly passed away on Friday due to severe organ failure following surgery. He was 73. The news was broken by photographer Roberta Bayley on Facebook, writing, “Very sad news. Roy Loney, the original singer of the legendary Flamin’ Groovies has died. Only minutes ago. Roy was a great talent, as a songwriter and performer, and a great friend. He was hospitalized last week, and I spoke to him Wednesday. He was in good spirits. He had a surgery this morning and never came out of it. Sorry, I have no other details. Roy will surely be missed by all who had the pleasure of knowing him.”
Earlier this year Loney was scheduled to reunite with the band he cofounded in San Francisco in the late ’60s, the Flamin’ Groovies, for a tour of Europe during which the plan was to perform classic ’71 Groovies album Teenage Head. In June, however, he suffered a fall at the airport and injured his head, preventing him from continuing on the journey. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Loney reportedly recovered from the fall but subsequently began to experience a decline in health “for reasons unconnected to the accident” and had to go into the hospital on several occasions.
The Flamin’ Groovies official Facebook page paid tribute to Loney via multiple posts, and fans poured forth with their own tributes.
In addition to the iconic Groovies (with whom he cut three albums and a 10″ EP during his 1968-71 tenure), Loney fronted several bands including the Phantom Movers and Roy Loney & the Longshots. He would also work in A&R for ABC Records as well as manning the counter of legendary Bay Area record store Jack’s Record Cellar. Over the years the fiery Loney became recognized as both a godfather of the punk movement and a spearhead of the roots-rock and rockabilly revival, and though he went into the studio only sporadically, whenever a new Loney-related record appeared, the rock community treated it like a genuine gift.
Below, check out a few classic Loney tunes, including three with the Groovies (the first one is from this past May):