Sunday, January 08, 2023

Jeffrey Reid "Jeff" Blackburn: 1945 - 2023

Jeffrey Reid "Jeff" Blackburn: 1945 - 2023  
w/ Neil Young
(Click photo to enlarge)


Via Rusted Moon:

He wrote the iconic lyric "It's better to burn out than to fade away" in Neil Young's song "My My, Hey Hey (Out Of The Blue)" - now he's dead.

Guitarist and songwriter Jeffrey Reid "Jeff" Blackburn died January 5, aged 77. Blackburn started out in California in the early 1960s as part of folk duo Blackburn & Snow, who released a few singles, and later played in San Francisco-based psychedelic rock band Moby Grape", with whose bassist Bob Mosley he then founded the "Jeff Blackburn Band" in Santa Cruz.

In the summer of 1977, Neil Young, a friend of Blackburn's Buffalo Springfield days, joined his band, which also added Johnny Craviotto on drums. The formation changed their name to "The Ducks" and played almost two dozen gigs in local clubs around Santa Cruz from July to September. It was then that Neil Young's famous "Peace & Dove" guitar strap was used for the first time.

During that summer with the Ducks, Young wrote the song " My My, Hey Hey ,"  borrowing - for co-credits - Blackburn's lyric from one of his songs.  However, the "Ducks" never played the song live. Neil Young first recorded with the band Devo in May 1978 for his film Human Highway. He had previously played it live for the first time at the concerts at "The Boarding House" in San Francisco. In 1979 he appeared in an acoustic and electric version on the album "Rust Never Sleeps", named after his lyric line.

Jeff Blackburn didn't live to see the release of an album by The Ducks. Originally planned for 2020, but then postponed several times, it is expected to be released this spring as "High Flyin'" with live recordings of the club concerts from that time. 

BREAKING NEWS ... Jeffrey Blackburn, Neil Young Bandmate in The Ducks Dead 


Jeffrey Reid "Jeff" Blackburn:  Gone ... but not forgotten. This is the story of The Ducks.

The stories are legendary surrounding the brief existence of The Ducks: "In their prime though, rusties, the Ducks were a magical experience." (see "Duck Tales")

Here is a very detailed recollection of that remarkable summer of '77 -- 40 years ago -- in a small coastal Northern California town --  The Story of Neil Young’s Short-lived Santa Cruz Band The Ducks.

Neil Young - August 1977
Catalyst Club, Santa Cruz, CA
(Click photo to enlarge)


  1. More sad news. I was just listening to Windward Passage by the Ducks last week for the first time in ages. If it doesn't get your feet tapping there's something wrong with you. I first heard it when I listened to one of the Ducks' shows that was playing on Rust Radio quite some years ago. I was doing something else at the same time and don't have strong recollections of the other material but Windward Passage stood out for me and grabbed my attention.

    I was then fortunate to find a collection of rare Neil Young tracks somewhere on the internet which I downloaded and this included Windward Passage which subsequently received quite a few plays from me. I am therefore looking forward to the release of the long promised Ducks Official Bootleg and the chance to listen to it and the other Ducks tracks in full NYA sound quality. Shame Jeff didn't live to see this release.

    A lot of the tracks in the collection of rarities were new to me at the time, but I think they have almost all been made available on NYA now, apart from Sad Movies. This is another favourite of mine so hope to see it on NYA too at some point.

    Moby Grape are a name I was familiar with in my teenage years but I don't think I ever heard any of their albums. I'm going to see what I can find available for streaming (not S*****y) and have a good listen tonight. RIP Jeff Blackburn

  2. Thanks much for sharing here Ron.

    Yes, it's a real shame that Jeff didn't live to hear this release. Maybe when it does get released, some sort of note can be appended? or maybe that window will get missed also.

    DangerDuck flies alone ...
    And he rides the wind back to his home
    Although his wings have turned to stone

    quack, quack Jeff.

  3. Ron- are you ever right! Windward Passage is incredible, makes one wonder what Neil cannot do. I mean what a beautiful life to play great music with all these different and gifted people. In 1977, I was avidly hunting ducks of all types on the northeast coast. I don't think I knew anything about the band, but I was listening to Stars n Bars, etc..... quack quack indeed.

  4. The dates are incorrect. He was born in 1945. He died on 1/5/23.
    Jojo, Jeff's partner

  5. OK, thanks Jojo. Updated.

    sorry for your loss. thanks for dropping by with the correction. apologies. maybe bad math on our part or didn't double check someone else's math.

    anyways, corrected.

    anything else you might be able to share on Jeff? We're certain others would as well.

  6. It still says Jan 6th. It was Jan 5th.
    Thanks for correcting.

  7. OK, corrected also. thanks for attention to detail.

    our wheat fields are always open for updates and corrections as we drive out the chaff.

  8. I am so sorry to hear of Jeff's passing. I was a close friend of Jeff, his older brother Mike, and his mother in the early 60's and 70's. Growing up in Santa Cruz I also knew John the drummer when he played with Corney and the Corvettes. I have many good memories of listening to those guys practicing and having a great time. I have always wondered how their lives went. RIP Jeff, you were a stand-up guy.Iris Paulsen


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