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Von Schmidt, Eric

Folk Singer, Artist Von Schmidt Dies
Saturday, February 3, 2007 (AP) 

Guitarist and painter Eric von Schmidt, a player in the Northeast's
blues and folk scene in the 1950s and 1960s who influenced Bob Dylan,
has died. He was 75.

Von Schmidt died in his sleep Friday at a convalescent home in
Fairfield, his daughter, Caitlin von Schmidt, said Saturday. He had
battled throat cancer and suffered a stroke last summer, but the cause
was undetermined, she said.

He met Dylan in the early '60s at his apartment in Harvard Square in
Cambridge, where a folk scene developed and featured the likes of Joan
Baez and Tom Rush. He told The Boston Globe in an interview in 1996
that he played several songs for Dylan that day.

Dylan wrote liner notes for von Schmidt's 1969 album, "Who Knocked the
Brains Out of the Sky."

"He could sing the bird off the wire and the rubber off the tire,"
Dylan wrote. "He can separate the men from the boys and the note from
the noise. The bridle from the saddle and the cow from the cattle. He
can play the tune of the moon. The why of the sky and the commotion of
the ocean."

On Dylan's first album, "Bob Dylan," in 1962, he says at the beginning
of "Baby, Let Me Follow You Down," that he first heard the song from
von Schmidt. The song was based on one recorded by Blind Dog Fuller.

Von Schmidt began playing guitar when he was 17, and said he was
inspired when he heard bluesman Leadbelly on the radio. He said he
listened to many folk and blues recordings at the Library of Congress,
where his father — Harold von Schmidt, who was noted for his
illustrations for the Saturday Evening Post — would drop him off
during trips to Washington.

He went to Italy in 1955 to study art on a Fulbright scholarship
before landing in Cambridge. His first album, "The Folk Blues of Eric
von Schmidt," was released in 1963.

One of his better known songs was "Joshua Gone Barbados," which has
been performed by several other artists. The ASCAP Foundation, which
promotes music education, gave him its Lifetime Achievement Award in
2000. He also painted album covers for Baez and other folk musicians.


Cambridge folksinger who first met and befriended Dylan in Boston in June 1961. They renewed their friendship when both in London in January 1963.

Clinton Heylin:"Bob Dylan: Behind The Shades, a Biography"

Date: Tue, 12 Dec 1995 10:25:52 GMT From: Ben Taylor (bptaylor@LAGUNA.DEMON.CO.UK) Subject: Re: Who's Who/ Robert Johnson "Mark Gonnerman" writes: > Anyone care to provide more information on the albums by Von Schmidt, > Lotte Lenya, The Impressions and their significance for Dylan? 2nd Right 3rd Row [Liner notes for "Eric von Schmidt", 1969 album] (Bob Dylan) Also known as: "Second Right Third Row" Source: liner notes for "Eric von Schmidt", 1969 album Eric Von Schmidt Of course, we had heard about Eric Von Schmidt for many years. The name itself had become a password. Eventually, after standing in line to meet him, there it was -- his doorstep, a rainy day, and he greeted his visitors, inviting them in. He was told how much they liked Grizzly Bear and he then invited the whole bunch to the club, where he was about to perform the thing live. "C'mon down to the club" he said -- "I'm about to perform it live". We accepted the invitation. And that is what his record is. An invitation. An invitation to the glad, mad, sad, biting, exciting, frightening, crabby, happy, enlightening, hugging, chugging world of Eric Von Schmidt. For here is a man who can sing the bird off the wire and the rubber off the tire. He can separate the men from the boys and the note from the noise. The bridle from the saddle and the cow from the cattle. He can play the tune of the moon. The why of the sky and the commotion from the ocean. Yes he can. Bob Dylan Ben Taylor -- Leeds, England
From: (CHRISTOPHER ROLLASON) To: Subject: Eric von Schmidt and Dylan (Folk Roots, Apr 97) Date: Wed, 19 Mar 1997 21:19:10 GMT The April 97 issue of the UK magazine 'Folk Roots': has an interesting article (pp. 24-27) on US folk-blues veteran Eric von Schmidt, with quite a few Dylan connections. 1. Dylan, of course, mentione Eric as 'Ric von Schmidt' in his spoken intro to 'Baby, Let Me Follow You Down' on his first album (as the person he learned the song from). 2. The cover photo of Dylan's BIABH incorporates a number of record sleeves, one of them being 'The Folk Blues of Eric von Schmidt'). 3. Schmidt recalls that Dylan told him he used the tune of his own 'Gulf Coast Blues' for one of his songs with the Band (presumably from the 'Basement Tapes', but Schmidt says he has forgotten what the Dylan song was). 4. Dylan played harmonica, as 'Blind Boy Grunt', on the 1963 album 'Dick Farina & Eric von Schmidt' (released only in the UK, long deleted - apparently no-one knows where the master tapes are). 5. Dylan wrote the sleeve notes to Schmidt's 1968 album 'Who Knocked the Brains of the Sky?'. Sample quote: 'He can play off the tune of the moon, the why of the sky .. and he is also a hell of a guy'. The whole article is recommended. Meanwhile, can anyone answer the question in point 3 (or, indeed, shed any light on point 4 - on which matter 'Folk Roots' say they would happily contact a couple of record labels interested in reissuing the album)? And give Eric von Schmidt a listen, too! Like Dave Van Ronk, he is a fine performer from that period, and diesn't sound at all like Dylan either. Recommended song: 'Turtle Beach'. Chris Rollason Christopher Rollason Metz, France 'but would not change my free thoughts for a throne' (Byron)

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