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Duffy Power

Duffy Power was born Ray Howard in Fulham, south-west London, and had been obliged by his parents to leave school at 14 and work in a bakery to help them buy a house.

Coming into music through skiffle and dance competitions, he was discovered by Larry Parnes at a talent show and renamed.

The six singles he then recorded on the Fontana label between 1959 and 1961 were typical ersatz American numbers of the era.

Duffy left Parnes for the well-connected Joe Roncoroni and during his career’s second phase on Parlophone recorded five superb singles between 1963 and 1964, revealing a hugely versatile, emotive voice.

Temporarily without a record contract in 1965, Duffy threw himself into songwriting and blues-based performing. After fronting an LP by Alexis Korner’s Blues Incorporated, Sky High (1965), he began recording a series of remarkable publishing demos for Marquis Music.

Forming a band called Duffy’s Nucleus with John McLaughlin, Danny Thompson and Terry Cox, he released a version of the Big Mama Thornton song Hound Dog (1966), on Decca, but the group folded after only a handful of gigs.

Duffy then worked as a session musician, playing the harmonica, on the soundtrack of The Italian Job (1969) and on albums by Bert Jansch and Iain Matthews.

A barnstorming CBS single of Robert Johnson’s Hellhound (1970) should have revived his career but somehow failed with the masses. A 1971 UK tour supporting Argent, who also backed him on an unreleased LP, similarly yielded no breakthrough.

A self-titled 1973 LP for GSF was effectively the last throw of the dice.

Duffy went on to work for the DHSS for some years, before gradually re-emerging on the music scene through the patronage of Mary Costello on GLR and Paul Jones on Radio 2.

Tapes for a planned mid-90s comeback album, produced by the Cream lyricist Pete Brown, disappeared when the Magmasters studio went bankrupt. A further planned album in the early 2000s stalled, finally released in 2011 as Tigers by the label Market Square.

By then, having suffered a major breakdown in 2007, Duffy was resigned to retirement.

Duffy Power died in February 2014, aged 72.