Brief introduction to the Buoys
The Buoys were a short-lived American group who had garnered only one major hit, “Timothy.” It was written for them by Rupert Holmes, who also wrote the bulk of the Buoys’ material. Anyway, “Timothy”’s song was deliberately controversial as it relates cannibalism. It broke into the Top 20 chart in 1971. But the Buoys’ follow-up single “Give Up Your Guns,” never surpassed or even duplicated the achievement of “Timothy” and became only a minor hit. Then the group broke up afterwards after their move to another label (Polydor).
The Buoys band lineup
The Buoys were a pop/rock and progressive rock band, formed in the Wilkes-Barre-Scranton, Pennsylvania in 1970. The group consisted of lead singer Billy Kelly, keyboardist Fran Bozena, bassist Gerry Hludzik, guitarist Chris Hanlon, and drummer Carl Siracuse. The band’s original bassist was actually Bob Gryziec, who also played in the band’s would-be hit record “Timothy.”
The Buoys generated one of the most bizarre hit singles in music history, “Timothy.” It was written by Rupert Holmes, who would go on to have a successful solo career through the hits “Escape (The Pina Colada Song)” (which is also a rather odd song itself, so we guess Holmes knew how to get anyone’s attention).
“Timothy”‘s offbeat and unnerving story centers around three coal miners who are trapped in a collapsed mine. The two men, who are starving to death, end up resorting to cannibalism against the song’s title character. According to Holmes himself, the song was inspired by Tennessee Ernie Ford’s popular version of the song “Sixteen Tons” (written and originally performed by country singer Merle Travis) which tells about the hard life of a coal miner. And what’s more odd about “Timothy” is that Holmes wrote the song with the intention for it to get banned, since the song’s theme is based on cannibalism. The Glass Prism was actually Holmes’ original choice to record “Timothy,” but the band was contracted to another record label at that time.
“Timothy” was released on Scepter label. It climbed to the charts, peaking at #17 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1971. “Timothy” lingered on the charts for eight weeks.
The band’s other songs and (unsuccessful) singles
Holmes went on to write the Buoys’ follow-up single “Give Up Your Guns,” which tells about a bank robber who’s at large. The song had more serious and darker tone (as well as less humor) compared to “Timothy.” It only landed at #84 on the Billboard Hot 100, although it was a bigger hit in Europe (not only on one occasion, but twice).
Holmes also wrote other songs for the band, including “The Prince of Thieves,” “Tomorrow,” and “Blood Knot.” The band also penned their own material, such as “Absent Friend,” “Castles,” “Good Lovin'” and “Tell Me Heaven Is Here.” They wrote a lot of songs, actually, which were definitely less dark than the songs Holmes wrote for them (with the exception of “Pittsburgh Steel,” whose story centers around steelworkers who hatch a plot to kill their foreman)
Disbandment and re-formation
The band moved to Polydor Records but they later disbanded. After The Buoys had dissolved, Kelly and Hludzik formed Dakota in 1980, who would open for Queen in the band’s US tour. The Buoys regrouped, this time with newer members, with Kelly and Hludzik having remained the only original members left, along with the newer members.