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Boz Burrell

AKA Raymond Burrell

Born: 1-Aug-1946
Birthplace: Holbeach, Lincolnshire, England
Died: 21-Sep-2006
Location of death: Puerto Banus, Marbella, Spain
Cause of death: Heart Failure

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Bassist

Nationality: England
Executive summary: Bad Company and King Crimson bassist

One of several musicians to have emerged from a difficult term with King Crimson into a career with a much more commercially viable future, Boz Burrell first cut his musical teeth as a vocalist with various local bands around the Norfolk area. Upon leaving college he turned professional with Lombard and the Tea Time Four, which, after bringing on board keyboardist Ian McLagan (who would later throw in his lot with The Small Faces), became the jazz-oriented unit The Boz People. In the short years of their existence, The Boz People made a reasonable name for themselves through live performances (occasionally as the backing band for singer Kenny Lynch) and managed to secure a recording deal with Columbia. Four singles were released by the band between '65 and '66 (You're Just the Kind of Girl I Wanted, Meeting Time, Pinnochio, and The Baby Song); public interest remained elsewhere, however, and so the various members ultimately moved on to other projects. A period followed as an itinerant musician amongst a succession of soul groups (The Sidewinders, Feel for Soul), but none of these possessed sufficient focus to establish a lasting presence in the business. During this period Burrell released two singles of cover tunes simply using the name Boz: I Shall Be Released (coupled with a version of Bob Dylan's Down In The Flood) and Light My Fire, both in 1968. On these sessions he would be backed by Ritchie Blackmore and several of the other musicians who would shortly become Deep Purple.

In the spring of 1970 Burrell turned up at auditions for the second line-up of King Crimson held by the sole remaining member of the original configuration, guitarist Robert Fripp. He soon found himself as the new Crimson vocalist alongside drummer Ian Wallace and sax/flute player Mel Collins, with the position of bass player to be filled by future Steeleye Span bassist Rick Kemp. After a last-minute reversal by Kemp threatened the imminent collapse of the band, Fripp offered to teach Burrell the parts if he took up the instrument himself -- an offer the singer accepted, thereby inviting large quantities of stress and frustration upon himself for the next several months. This new version of King Crimson would never completely cohere, its distinctly blues-oriented recent recruits being somewhat at odds with the more obtuse-minded Fripp; only the studio album Islands (1971) managed to emerge from amongst the turmoil, supplemented by the rough, posthumously-released live document Earthbound (1972). By the end of an American tour in 1972 the differences had become insurmountable, and Burrell and his two bandmates split from Fripp, staying on in the States to continue instead with bluesman Alexis Korner.

Upon returning to England at the close of 1972, Boz was recruited by former Free singer Paul Rodgers and former Mott the Hoople guitarist Mick Ralphs to assume bass duties in what would become the most successful act of his career, Bad Company. Released on Led Zeppelin's Swan Song label in 1974, their self-titled debut immediately jumped straight to the top of the charts, as did the lead single Can't Get Enough. Bad Company maintained their enormous popularity throughout the decade, the albums Straight Shooter (1975), Run with the Pack (1976), Burnin' Sky (1977) and Desolation Angels (1979) never quite surpassing the impact of their first release, but all making a respectable showing. After 1982's Rough Diamonds, Rodgers decided to move on; the band re-convened without him in 1986, and subsequent to that year's Fame & Fortune Burrell moved on as well. Rodgers and Burrell both later reunited with the other original members to record new tracks for The Original Bad Company Anthology in 1998, supported by a US tour in the summer of 1999.

In the 90s Boz worked for a time with Alvin Lee, performing on his Best of British Blues tour. His primary musical outlet, however, was a partnership with Scottish vocalist Tam White; in 1997 the two created The Celtic Groove Connection, a big band that performed regularly around the UK before releasing a self-titled album in 1999.

    The Boz People Vocalist (1964-66)
    Boz Vocalist (1968)
    King Crimson Bassist/Vocalist (1971-72)
    Snape Bassist/Vocalist (1972)
    Bad Company Bassist (1973-83, 1985-86, and 1998-99)
    Streetwalkers Vocalist (1974)
    The Celtic Groove Connection Bassist (1997-99)

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