Sir Lord Baltimore - Biography



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

After a relatively short time, the new band auditioned for Mike Appel, who was then working as a talent scout and would later launch and manage the career of Bruce Springsteen. Appel agreed to mentor them, reportedly gave them the name Sir Lord Baltimore, and would later co-write the lyrics also co-arranged and co-produce their debut album.

That album, Kingdom Come, was recorded at Vantone Studios and engineered by Nick Masse from the legendary "Four Seasons" West Orange, New Jersey, with Jim Cretecos serving as Appel's co-producer. Additional tracks, mixing, & overdubbing were done at New York, New York's Hendrix-founded Electric Lady Studios with legendary engineer Eddie Kramer, better known for his work with The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Kiss, and many others. According to Appel, British psychedelic rock band Pink Floyd had the opportunity to hear Sir Lord Baltimore during these sessions, and were reportedly impressed.

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

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.) 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.

In May 1971, Mike Saunders (of later Angry Samoans fame) wrote a favorable review of Kingdom Come for Creem magazine. 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." To date, this appears to have been the first printed use of the term "heavy metal" to reference a musical genre.

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

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. However, the band did start work in the mid-1970s for an unreleased third album originally scheduled for 1976, and music written for that project was eventually used on Sir Lord Baltimore III Raw.

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

Some 30 years after the band's break-up, Garner and Dambra reunited to record and self-distribute a new Sir Lord Baltimore album, Sir Lord Baltimore III Raw, on JG Records in July 2006. Garner produced the album. The majority of the album's bass guitar lines were performed by Tony Franklin, with guitarist Anthony Guido and bass player Sam Powell being credited as guest musicians. Though the album's music was originally written for the aborted 1976 release, the lyrics were modified to present a subtle Christian viewpoint.

As of February 2007, Sir Lord Baltimore III Raw is lacking a distributor and has not been released for sale. In addition to his modern day work with Sir Lord Baltimore, Dambra is an active pastor who ministers to homeless families in Los Angeles, California. To date, he and Garner have not announced any future projects.

Since 2007, John Garner & Swedish guitar player Janne Stark of Overdrive and Locomotive Breath Band recorded a modern version of "Woman Tamer" from SLB's 2nd Album since neither Louis or Joey are active members at this point. In March 2008, it was announced that John Garner & Janne Stark, with a selected bass player, would make an appearance at Rock Festival in Sweden in June 2008, but lack of pay and other mitigating circumstances prevented it.