Release Date: Jun 23, 2015
Record label: Chapter Music
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Rock & Roll, Dance-Rock, Proto-Punk, Disco, Glam Rock
Emphatically not to be confused with his English namesakes – they who may have come to regret Living Next Door To Alice – Smokey was the nickname of LA party animal John Condon. “Smokey” became a duo when Condon hooked up with producer/partner EJ Emmons, and in due course a full band evolved, becoming house hedonists at Rodney Bingenheimer’s English Disco. (At various times, inductees included the young Randy Rhoads, Adrian Belew and the Sales brothers.
John "Smokey" Condon's biography has all the makings of a gay rock legend. He grew up in a Baltimore enmeshed in the counterculture of the 1960s, living above a nightclub as a teen and partying in John Waters’ eclectic circle. He sang in local groups and became involved in activism, protesting the Vietnam War, marching with United Farm Workers civil rights leader Cesar Chavez, and fighting for gay rights at the Stonewall riots in New York City.
In the 21st century, many gay and lesbian pop and rock musicians are still hesitant about declaring their sexual orientation to their fans, and though the glam rock scene of the '70s was built around artists who enjoyed playing guessing games about their ambiguous sexual preferences (most notably David Bowie and Lou Reed), outside of Jobriath, few if any were willing to make a bold, decisive statement that they were gay (and Jobriath's courage played a major role in his career never taking off). So Smokey are more than a bit remarkable for the simple fact no other rock band was as flat-out gay as they were during their 1973 to 1981 run. Led by singer John "Smokey" Condon and multi-instrumentalist and producer E.J.
Unlike the similarly styled works of David Bowie and Lou Reed, Smokey never managed to break through to a broader audience. Much of this can be chalked up to the lack of mystery surrounding their sexuality. Where Bowie and Reed flirted with the notion of bisexuality and were often coy about their true orientation, preferring to remain enigmatic, Smokey, like the equally unsuccessful Jobriath, made no bones about their sexuality.