Aug 29, 2021: John Drake, Amboy Dukes Vocalist, Dies

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John Drake, a bandmate of Ted Nugent from their days in the Midwest band the Amboy Dukes, died on Sunday, August 29, 2021, at age 74, at Seasons Hospice in Naperville, Ill. The cause of death was complications from cancer. Drake was the lead singer for the rock band when they earned a #16 pop hit in 1968 with “Journey to the Center of the Mind.”

Drake was born John William Brake on January 1, 1947, in Detroit, Mich. It’s said that his name was misspelled on an album and he decided to keep it.

The Amboy Dukes, with Nugent on lead guitar, released their self-titled, blues-oriented, debut album in 1967, for the Mainstream label, with Drake as lead vocalist.

Just four months later, they released Journey to the Center of the Mind, again on Mainstream. Guitarist Steve Farmer and Nugent wrote or co-wrote all of its tracks, including the psychedelic title cut.

On his Facebook page, Nugent wrote, “Lost a dear friend and original Motor City soul brother John Brake (Drake), one of the founding fathers of Detroit rock ‘n’ roll. My original singer in the Lourds 1959-1963 and ultimately Amboy Dukes 1967-1968! John had the Motown mojo! God rest his soul!”

Drake left the band after that second album. An obituary written by his wife, Mary Ann Fosco, and placed by a funeral home in Downers Grove, Ill., notes that Drake was a medic in the Army, stationed at Ft. Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas, from 1969 to 1970.

He later had his own band, the John Drake Shakedown, performing on bills with many of music’s greats, including Jimi Hendrix, the Beach Boys, Blood, Sweat and Tears, the Supremes, Herman’s Hermits, Chicago, the Who, Velvet Underground, Mothers of Invention, Vanilla Fudge, Procol Harum, Young Rascals and many more.

At one point, he served as a booking agent for the Diversified Management Agency  in Detroit.

The Amboy Dukes reunited in 2009 at the Detroit Music Awards, where they received a Distinguished Achievement Award.

Related: Musicians we’ve lost in 2021

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