The Buoys – “Timothy”

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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 Members of the Buoys Band

 

1. Bill Kelly 

Bill Kelly, a Wyoming Area alumnus, has spent most of his life playing music professionally as a member of The Buoys, the Jerry-Kelly Band, and Dakota. In the 1970s, Bill Kelly played guitar and sang lead for the American rock group The Buoys. Timothy, the band’s biggest popular song that peaked at number 17 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1971, was co-written by him. Midway through the 1970s, The Buoys split up, and Kelly pursued a career in music engineering and production. He collaborated with musicians like Kiss, Yoko Ono, and John Lennon. The Monkees, Alice Cooper, and Barbra Streisand are just a few famous musicians Kelly has written songs for. At the 2021 Tomato Festival, Kelly made a special appearance with his musical partner of 18 years, Jennifer Kane, performing both their current hit singles and classic hits.

2. Fran Brozena

The Buoy’s, who rose to fame in the 1970s, included Fran Brozena in their initial lineup. The distinctive sound of the Buoy was greatly influenced by keyboardist and vocalist Brozena. She was born on July 14, 1948, in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, and has played music since early childhood. Little is known about Fran Brozena’s background or personal life. However, it is evident that she was a gifted musician and made a significant contribution to The Buoy’s sound. Her piano work gave the song a distinctive texture, and her voice effectively complemented the other band members. She frequently mixed facets of jazz and classical music into the band’s rock tunes, which helped give them distinctive features from other bands of the time. Together with the other band members, Brozena was renowned for her vocal harmonies. Even though the group eventually split up in the late 1970s, classic rock fans still like their songs.

3. Jerry Hludzik 

The bassist and founding member of the well-known American rock group, The Buoys, was Jerry Hludzik. Hludzik was born in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, on December 26, 1947. He was a crucial part of The Buoys, contributing to the vocal harmonies and giving the group strong bass lines. Many of The Buoys’ songs, including their biggest hit, “Timothy,” were co-written by Hludzik. After The Buoys split up, he established the band Dakota with fellow Buoy member Bill Kelly. In 1988, Dakota scored a hit with the song “Rockin’ in the Free World” and released numerous albums. Even today, Hludzik is still producing and performing music.

4. Chris Hanlon

The drummer for The Buoy’s original lineup was Chris Hanlon. Beyond his affiliation with the band, not much is known about him. He contributed drums to the band’s top 20 American smash single “Timothy.” The Buoy’s recorded several albums following the success of “Timothy,” but they failed to match its level of popularity. Chris Hanlon’s direct, uncomplicated approach to drumming matched the band’s folk-influenced rock sound.

“Timothy” may be the only pop hit with cannibalism theme

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)

The Songs of the Buoys Other than Timothy

The biggest hit for The Buoy’s throughout their brief existence was “Timothy,” h here are a few of their additional well-known songs. However, they had different fame than Timothy.

1. Give Up Your Guns – The Buoy’s recorded the single “Give Up Your Guns” in 1972. It was the band’s second most significant success after “Timothy.” The song has a memorable opening riff played on electric guitar, setting the tone for its catchy, uplifting chorus and driving rhythm. Lyrically, “Give Up Your Guns” pleads for a peaceful resolution to problems and calls for alternative means to resolve violence. The lyrics also include allusions to nonviolent activists throughout history, such as Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. The song “Give Up Your Guns” is an all-timer in the genre of socially minded folk music and for good reason. Its memorable tune and sing-along chorus have made it a classic among rock and rollers of the 1970s.

2. Tomorrow – The Buoy’s released their single “Tomorrow” in 1971, a slow-moving song that showcases the band’s signature vocal harmonies in a more intimate setting. The song’s melancholy tune and lyrics, which brood over the unpredictability and impermanence of life, make for a powerful listening experience. The lyrics express skepticism about the future and explore the concept of uncertainty. Despite the song’s gloomy subject, “Tomorrow” is a stunning example of The Buoy’s harmonies and creative skills. Its message of appreciating the here and now is as pertinent as written and performed decades ago. The song continues to enjoy widespread acclaim.

3. Bloodknot – “Bloodknot” is characterized by a descending chord structure and dark, brooding melody,  giving it an eerie and foreboding air. The lyrics paint a picture of a seedy underworld where people resort to lying and physical force to achieve their goals. Although it has a sad subject, it is musically engaging thanks to the band’s powerful vocal performance and the song’s driving beat. In general, “Bloodknot” has an impressive tune that nails the shadowy aspect of the human condition. It demonstrates The Buoy’s skill at writing intricate, emotionally powerful songs about weighty topics.

4. The Prince of Thieves – The folk-influenced ballad “The Prince of Thieves” portrays the tale of a Robin Hood-like hero who plunders the wealthy to help people in need. An acoustic guitar riff introduces the song and establishes the mood throughout the duration. The song’s rich and full sound is primarily due to the three-part vocal harmonies featured prominently throughout. The clever wordplay and lyrics in “The Prince of Thieves” are a definite high point. The tune is also distinctive and catchy, with a simple chorus to remember and sing along to. Many listeners hold this song in high esteem because of the fascinating and uplifting story of the protagonist.

5. The Sky’s on Fire – Released in 1974, “The Sky’s on Fire” has an upbeat vibe, and the lyrics convey a sense of approaching disaster. The lyrics also address the effect of war and environmental degradation. The song is musically characterized by a sense of forward motion because of the powerful bass line and driving guitar riff. The repeating refrain is a rallying cry for the song’s message and makes the chorus memorable. The music is powerful and evocative, accurately conveying the angst and unpredictability.

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.

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