Sir Lord Baltimore

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Sir Lord Baltimore
Original SLB.jpg
From left to right: Louis Dambra, Gary Justin, and John Garner, in circa 1971.
Background information
Origin Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
Genres Heavy metal [1] [2] · stoner rock [3]
Years active 1968–1976, 2006–2015
Labels Mercury, PolyGram, Red Fox Records, JG Records, Anthology Recordings
Associated acts The Koala, the Lizards, Overdrive, Locomotive Breath
Website Official site
Past members John Garner
Louis Dambra
Gary Justin
Joey Dambra

Sir Lord Baltimore was an American heavy metal band from Brooklyn, New York, United States, formed in 1968 by lead vocalist and drummer John Garner, guitarist Louis Dambra, and bassist Gary Justin. Some have cited the 1971 review of their debut record, Kingdom Come , in Creem magazine as containing the first documented use of the term "heavy metal" to refer to a style of music; the truth is the same reviewer used the term when reviewing a Humble Pie album in Rolling Stone six months earlier. Sir Lord Baltimore featured a drumming lead singer, traditionally a rarity in rock and metal music. The band is also the first band to be categorized as heavy metal. [4] The group has been called "the godfathers of stoner rock." [3]

Heavy metal is a genre of rock music that developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s, largely in the United Kingdom. With roots in blues rock, psychedelic rock, and acid rock, the bands that created heavy metal developed a thick, massive sound, characterized by highly amplified distortion, extended guitar solos, emphatic beats, and overall loudness. The genre's lyrics and performance styles are sometimes associated with aggression and machismo.

Brooklyn Borough in New York City and county in New York state, United States

Brooklyn is the most populous borough of New York City, with an estimated 2,648,771 residents in 2017. Named after the Dutch village of Breukelen, it borders the borough of Queens at the western end of Long Island. Brooklyn has several bridge and tunnel connections to the borough of Manhattan across the East River, and the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge connects Staten Island. Since 1896, Brooklyn has been coterminous with Kings County, the most populous county in the U.S. state of New York and the second-most densely populated county in the United States, after New York County.

New York (state) State of the United States of America

New York is a state in the Northeastern United States. New York was one of the original Thirteen Colonies that formed the United States. With an estimated 19.54 million residents in 2018, it is the fourth most populous state. To distinguish the state from the city in the state with the same name, it is sometimes called New York State.


In 2006, Garner and Dambra reunited as Sir Lord Baltimore and released a new album, Sir Lord Baltimore III Raw . The reformed band featured an overt Christian focus and lyrics, an emphasis not found in their earlier work. [5] Justin, no longer an active musician, did not participate. [6] Garner died on December 5, 2015, of liver failure, ending the band. [7]

<i>Sir Lord Baltimore III Raw</i> album by Sir Lord Baltimore

Sir Lord Baltimore III Raw is the third and final studio album by American heavy metal band Sir Lord Baltimore, released in July 2006 on JG Records.

Liver failure

Liver failure or hepatic insufficiency is the inability of the liver to perform its normal synthetic and metabolic function as part of normal physiology. Two forms are recognised, acute and chronic. Recently a third form of liver failure known as acute-on-chronic liver failure (ACLF) is increasingly being recognized.


Original career

Kingdom Come (1970) SLB kingdom come.jpg
Kingdom Come (1970)

Having first met in high school, Garner (the band creator), Dambra and Justin started rehearsing together in 1968. [8] At the time of their formation, Dambra (as Louis Caine) was also playing for a group called the Koala, who released an eponymous album in 1969. [9] Justin has cited Cream's Jack Bruce as an influence on his early career choice. [10]

Cream (band) 1960s British rock supergroup

Cream were a British rock power trio formed in 1966 consisting of drummer Ginger Baker, guitarist/singer Eric Clapton and lead singer/bassist Jack Bruce. The group's third album, Wheels of Fire (1968), is the world's first platinum-selling double album. The band is widely regarded as the world's first successful supergroup. In their career, they sold more than 15 million records worldwide. Their music included songs based on traditional blues such as "Crossroads" and "Spoonful", and modern blues such as "Born Under a Bad Sign", as well as more current material such as "Strange Brew", "Tales of Brave Ulysses" and "Toad".

Jack Bruce Scottish musician, bassist of Cream

John Symon Asher Bruce was a Scottish musician, singer and songwriter known primarily for his contributions to the British supergroup Cream, which also included the guitarist-singer Eric Clapton and the drummer Ginger Baker. In March 2011 Rolling Stone readers selected him as the eighth greatest bass guitarist of all time. "Most musicians would have a very hard time distinguishing themselves if they wound up in a band with Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker," the magazine said at the time, "but Jack Bruce was so gifted on the bass that he did it with ease."

After a relatively short time, the new band auditioned for Mike Appel, who was then working as a talent scout (he would later launch and manage the career of Bruce Springsteen). Appel agreed to mentor them and reportedly gave them the name Sir Lord Baltimore, taken from a character in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid . For the group's debut album, Appel served as co-producer as well as contributing to arrangements and lyrics. [11]

Mike Appel is an American music industry manager and record producer, best known for his role in both capacities in the early career of Bruce Springsteen.

Bruce Springsteen American singer and songwriter

Bruce Frederick Joseph Springsteen is an American singer-songwriter and leader of the E Street Band. Nicknamed "The Boss," he is recognized for his poetic lyrics, his Jersey Shore roots, his distinctive voice, and lengthy, energetic stage performances.

<i>Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid</i> 1969 American Western film directed by George Roy Hill

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is a 1969 American Western film directed by George Roy Hill and written by William Goldman. Based loosely on fact, the film tells the story of Wild West outlaws Robert LeRoy Parker, known as Butch Cassidy, and his partner Harry Longabaugh, the "Sundance Kid", who are on the run from a crack US posse after a string of train robberies. The pair and Sundance's lover, Etta Place, flee to Bolivia in search of a more successful criminal career.

That album, Kingdom Come , was recorded at Vantone Studios and engineered by Nick Masse, with Jim Cretecos serving as Appel's co-producer. Additional tracks, mixing and overdubbing were done at Electric Lady Studios with legendary engineer Eddie Kramer, better known for his work with Jimi Hendrix. According to Appel, Pink Floyd had the opportunity to hear Sir Lord Baltimore during these sessions, and were reportedly impressed. [12]

<i>Kingdom Come</i> (Sir Lord Baltimore album) album by Sir Lord Baltimore

Kingdom Come is the debut studio album by American heavy metal band Sir Lord Baltimore, released on Mercury Records in 1970.

Electric Lady Studios American recording studio

Electric Lady Studios is a recording studio in Greenwich Village, New York City. It was built by Jimi Hendrix and designed by John Storyk in 1970. Hendrix spent only ten weeks recording in Electric Lady before his death, but it has since been used by many notable artists.

Eddie Kramer audio engineer and producer

Edwin H. "Eddie" Kramer is a recording producer and engineer. Kramer has collaborated with several artists now in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, including the Beatles, David Bowie, Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, The Kinks, Kiss, Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones and Carlos Santana.

Sir Lord Baltimore (1971) Sir lord baltimore.jpg
Sir Lord Baltimore (1971)

Released on Mercury Records in 1970, Kingdom Come featured very fast-paced hard rock with high levels of distortion in the guitar and, in some cases, the bass, and extensive[ citation needed ] multi-tracking to further enhance the guitar sound. [13] Though this style would become popular in later years, it was considerably different from the majority of that era's contemporary rock music. [12]

Mercury Records record label

Mercury Records is an American record label owned by Universal Music Group. In the United States, it operates through Island Records; in the UK, it is distributed by Virgin EMI Records.

On February 19–20, 1971, Sir Lord Baltimore played consecutive nights at New York's Fillmore East as the opening act on a bill that included the J. Geils Band and Black Sabbath, as part of the latter's Paranoid tour. (Sir Lord Baltimore played additional dates on this tour, as well.) [14] A photo of the band used in the Fillmore East's programs was later used as the cover of their 2006 reunion album, Sir Lord Baltimore III Raw . [6]


In May 1971, Mike Saunders (of later Angry Samoans fame) wrote a favorable review of Kingdom Come for Creem. Of historical note was Saunders' assertion that "...Sir Lord Baltimore seems to have down pat most all the best heavy metal tricks in the book", one of the first printed uses of the term "heavy metal" to reference a musical genre. [10]

Issued in 1971, also on Mercury, Sir Lord Baltimore marked a change in direction, with Kingdom Come's frenetic pace giving way to slower tempos more reminiscent of music produced by the band's hard rock peers. Sir Lord Baltimore expanded to a quartet for this album, with Louis Dambra's brother, Joey Dambra, joining as a second guitarist. [13] Sir Lord Baltimore contains a supposed live recording, "Where Are We Going", which was actually recorded at Mercury Studios. The audience was dubbed in as the producer thought it was a good idea to include a "live" track. [15]

Their career started to fade after Sir Lord Baltimore's release, and Mercury dropped them shortly thereafter. The band publicly blamed drugs on its initial downfall, with low record sales and non-payment of royalties also being cited. [16] However, the band did start work in the mid-1970s on an unreleased third album, originally scheduled for 1976, and music written for that project was eventually used on Sir Lord Baltimore III Raw. [6]

In 1994, Kingdom Come and Sir Lord Baltimore were reissued on a single compact disc, Kingdom Come/Sir Lord Baltimore, by PolyGram, However, the track listing on the combined CD differed from the original recordings. Kingdom Come was issued again separately on digital in 2007, this time on Anthology Recordings.


Sir Lord Baltimore III Raw (2006) Sir Lord Baltimore III Raw.jpg
Sir Lord Baltimore III Raw (2006)

Some 30 years after the band's breakup, Garner and Dambra reunited to record and self-distribute a new Sir Lord Baltimore album, Sir Lord Baltimore III Raw. Garner produced the album, issued on JG Records in July 2006 and available only via mail order. The majority of the album's bass guitar work was performed by Tony Franklin, with guitarist Anthony Guido and bass player Sam Powell being credited as guest musicians. Although the album's music was originally written for the aborted 1976 release, the lyrics were modified to present more overt Christian viewpoint. [17]

In 2007, Garner and Swedish guitar player Janne Stark (formerly of Overdrive and Locomotive Breath) recorded a new version of "Woman Tamer" from SLB's second album. In March 2008, it was announced that Garner and Stark, with a selected bass player, would make an appearance at Sweden Rock Festival in June 2008, but lack of pay and other mitigating circumstances prevented them from performing. Dambra is an active pastor who ministers to homeless families in Los Angeles, California. [5]

Garner (born John Guarneri on February 2, 1952 in Brooklyn, New York) [18] died on December 5, 2015, of liver failure; effectively ending the band. [19] [20] He was 63. [21]



Studio albums

YearAlbumUS Top


1970 Kingdom Come 198
1971 Sir Lord Baltimore -
2006 Sir Lord Baltimore III Raw -

Compilation albums

1994 Kingdom Come/Sir Lord Baltimore



  1. "Sir Lord Baltimore – Biography". AllMusic.
  2. "Sir Lord Baltimore: 'We were the first band to be called heavy metal'".
  3. 1 2 Sleazegrinder (March 2007). "The Lost Pioneers of Heavy Metal". Classic Rock.
  4. "Forgotten Pioneers of Heavy Metal: Sir Lord Baltimore".
  5. 1 2 Freeman, "Godsmacked: Seventies heavy-metal pioneers Sir Lord Baltimore have returned with a new sound and a new master", The Village Voice.
  6. 1 2 3 Garner,
  8. Freeman, "Godsmacked: Seventies heavy-metal pioneers Sir Lord Baltimore have returned with a new sound and a new master", The Village Voice
  9. The Koala biography, Bad Cat Records.
  10. 1 2 Saunders, Kingdom Come review, Creem.
  11. Freeman, "Godsmacked: Seventies heavy-metal pioneers Sir Lord Baltimore have returned with a new sound and a new master", The Village Voice
  12. 1 2 Rivadavia, Sir Lord Baltimore biography,
  13. 1 2 Cope, Kingdom Come review,
  14. "Paranoid Tour" tour dates,
  15. Information from John Garner 2006
  16. Rivadavia, Sir Lord Baltimore biography,
    * Freeman, "Godsmacked: Seventies heavy-metal pioneers Sir Lord Baltimore have returned with a new sound and a new master", The Village Voice.
  17. Seventies heavy-metal pioneers Sir Lord Baltimore have returned with a new sound and a new master", The Village Voice.
    * Rockwell, Sir Lord Baltimore III Raw review,
  18. Jukebox, God's. "Listen to 'Chicago Lives by Sir Lord Baltimore, feat. John Garner, drums/vocals' on God's Jukebox".
  19. Doc Rock. "The Dead Rock Stars Club 2015 July to December". Retrieved 2015-12-07.
  20. Eduardo Rivadavia (December 7, 2015). "Sir Lord Baltimore's Vocalist/Drummer John Garner Dies". Ultimate Classic Rock. Retrieved March 29, 2017.
  21. "John Guarneri, lead singer, drummer for '70s metal band Sir Lord Baltimore, dies at 63".

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