Roy Loney, the original lead singer for the influential garage rock group Flamin’ Groovies, has died at the age of 73.
The band confirmed Loney’s death on their Facebook page. “We are all deeply saddened and stunned to learn that our dearest friend and bandmate, Roy Loney, passed away this morning,” the band wrote. The musician died of severe organ failure at San Francisco’s California Pacific Medical Center, his girlfriend Vivian Altmann told the San Francisco Chronicle.
News of Loney’s death was initially announced by punk rock photographer Roberta Bayley, who revealed the musician had surgery earlier this week and died on Friday. “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,” she wrote on Facebook.
In the early 1960s, Loney began playing guitar and singing with Tim Lynch in the San Francisco band the Kingsmen, which would later evolve into the Chosen Few. By 1965, the Chosen Few became the Flamin’ Groovies. While the band’s albums made little chart impact, they had a subsequent influence on power-pop and punk acts that followed. After self-releasing their Sneakers EP in 1968, the band landed a record deal with Epic. Just one year later they delivered their debut studio album Supersnazz. The band would become known for its tracks “Love Have Mercy,” alongside twists on classics like Bobby Toup’s “The Girl Can’t Help It” and John Vincent and Huey “Piano” Smith’s “Rockin’ Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie ‘Flu.”
The group would next sign to Kama Sutra Records where they released Flamingo and Teenage Head in 1970 and 1971, respectively; the former album features the Loney co-written track “Headin’ for the Texas Border,” later covered by the Raconteurs. But by 1971, tensions between Loney and guitarist Cyril Jordan would lead to the singer’s departure.
Loney moved onto work in a number of music industry jobs including one as a sales representative for ABC Records. But by 1978, he began releasing his own solo music with his EP Artistic As Hell, collaborating with Groovies’ members Tim Lynch and Jordan. He’d later team up with his group the Phantom Movers, which featured previous Groovies members Danny Mihm and James Ferrell Roy Loney, to release music as Roy Loney & the Phantom Movers between 1979 and 1993. His most recent release was 2009’s Got Me A Hot One! with Señor No.
After the post-Loney Groovies shared their 2017 album Fantastic Plastic, Loney made appearances onstage to play some of the band’s classic tracks. That led to a series of shows this year where Loney and the group were set to perform their Teenage Head record in full. Loney was set to tour Europe with the band before he suffered his fall at the San Francisco International Airport in the spring. Instead, the Groovies had to head out on tour without him.
“Roy was born on a Friday the 13th and he died on a Friday the 13th,” Loney’s girlfriend Altmann told the Chronicle. “That is a very rockin’ thing to do.”