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David LaFlamme R.I.P.

David LaFlamme, best known as the lead singer and violinist of the psychedelic folk-rock band It’s a Beautiful Day, passed away on August 7th, 2023 at the age of 82.

by Peter Thelen, Published 2023-08-09

David LaFlamme promotional photoBorn in New Britain, Connecticut on May 4, 1941, into a musical family, he was given a violin by his aunt at an early age and began taking lessons in violin and piano. He loved to sing too, and was interested in jazz violin. Eventually his family moved to Salt Lake City, and it was there that he was able to play with the Salt Lake Symphony as a teenager. In the early 60s he was in the army and stationed at Fort Ord, near Monterey, California, and due to some hearing loss he ended up making frequent trips to Letterman Hospital in San Francisco, where he was eventually discharged. He fell in love with the city, which was in the middle of a folk music renaissance, and David fit right in. It was there that David met Linda, who would become his first wife a couple years later; they immediately started writing songs together. At this point he was mostly playing guitar and singing in clubs around town, but later began playing the violin again.

In the mid-60s, as the local music scene was blossoming, David began auditioning players for a new band called the Electric Chamber Orkustra, later shortened to The Orkustra. Initially it was open to any players who wanted to come and jam, but eventually coalesced into a five-piece unit of oboe, bouzouki, violin, bass, and drums, playing what today would be considered Raga Rock. By 1967 David and his wife Linda were working with manager Matthew Katz (Jefferson Airplane, Moby Grape) on a band Katz had previously put together called It’s a Beautiful Day; the band had fallen apart but David and Linda were brought in as an organizational and songwriting force to get it going again, and so they did. During this time he was also working with Dan Hicks, who was trying to get a new band together (post Charlatans). By mid-1969 the band had released their first self-titled album, although Linda (keyboardist) left after the first album. Three more albums followed, culminating with the Live at Carnegie Hall album, but trouble was brewing with their former manager who sued the band for the ownership of the band name, and won. LaFlamme left the band at that point.

Beginning in the mid-70s David LaFlamme recorded two albums for the Amherst label, the first offering new versions of some of the tunes he recorded with It’s a Beautiful Day. These albums were made with his second wife (also named Linda) singing backup harmonies, eventually leading to a number of one-off IABD reunions in the 80s, though without a band name they went forward in the 90s as The David Laflamme Band, with only David and drummer Val Fuentes from the original It’s a Beautiful Day band on board, the remaining members came from bassist Toby Gray’s band The Road Hogs from the Santa Cruz area. Four new albums were recorded beginning in 2000, including two live and two studio recordings, initially by the David Laflamme Band but later, rebranded as  It’s a Beautiful Day.

Filed under: Obituaries

Related artist(s): It's a Beautiful Day, David LaFlamme

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