A deep discussion with John Sebastian concerning his boyhood and musical development in Greenwich Village and the folk movement, his founding of The Lovin’ Spoonful, his move to California and his solo career which continues today. A raconteur of the first order who has had a front row seat when he hasn’t been on stage himself to some of the most important events in American popular music of the last 60 years.
Especially good Spotify playlist link due to John’s involvement and direct references.
The 3 Lovin’ Spoonful albums produced by Eric Jacobson are essential, all remain relevant today.
Born in Greenwich village with a professional musician father, John was perfectly positioned to catch the “Folk Music Wave” who’s epicenter was his neighborhood. The Even Dozen Jug Band (more of a recording project than a touring band) was an early recording experience. Like Cambridge’s Jim Kweskin Jug Band, The Even Dozen Band was loaded with talented musicians who would go on to great success.
John developed a friendship with Bob Dylan which took them upstate to Woodstock. Here in 1964 John plays a favorite Gibson J 45 lost to the sands of time. Bob goes electric on a Japanese bass.
At this point John had more experience working numerous recording sessions. He was able to help Dylan when he decided to add musicians for his 1965 LP “Bringing it all back Home”.
The Dylanologist are yet to nail down if and on what cut John (or Steve Boone) add the bass parts. Best guess is Maggies Farm. A Fender Precision Bass can be seen in John’s hands at the BIABH sessions. Note the Fender “Tweed” amp sitting on the chair left of Bob.
Steve Boone bass player for The Louvin’ Spoonful also played some bass at these sessions as did Harvey Brooks. Same Bass different wardrobe than Sebastian.
Here’s John with that J 45 again along with fellow Greenwich Village running buddy John Hammond on a Wurlitzer keyboard. Bob is playing his Gibson Nick Lucas acoustic which John sold him. This whole scene looks like lots of fun.
If you are interested in the Folk performers that went on to larger careers in rock then you will enjoy “Turn!Turn!Turn the 60s folk rock revolution” by Ritchie Unterberger. This guy has a head for details. There is a Vol II “Eight Miles High Folk Rock’s Flight from Haight-Asbury to Woodstock”
John’s first solo Lp after The Lovin’ Spoonful released early 1970 recorded in L.A. for Reprise is a fine LP
In this podcast, John discusses his chance attendance at Woodstock and being pressed into performing as well as his memorable tie dyed outfit and how he created it.
Mr Unterberger also wrote the liner notes for John Sebastian’s “Tarzana Kid John’s last LP for Reprise released in 1974. The list of musicians on this album is amazing : Lowell George,Amos Garrett, The Pointer Sisters, Buddy Emmons, Emmylou Harris, David Lindley, David Grossman, Ry Cooder and Phil Everly. Whew!
1996 saw the release of “I Want My Roots” John Sebastian and the J-Band which featured Jimmy Vivino, Fritz Richmond James Wormworth, Paul Rishnell, Annie Raines and Rory Block.
For “Chain’ Gus’s Ghost” released 1999 The J Band added Geoff Muldaur and Yank Rachell.
John is on board along with Fritz Richmond, David Grisman, Dan Hicks, Taj Mahal and others for Ms Muldaur’s 2006 CD “Maria Muldaur and her Garden of Joy”. “Good Music for Hard Times” Man were they prescient.