Harold Leventhal
1919 - 2005

"We send our heartfelt condolences to his wife Natalie and family on the passing of this icon of Musical Americana. The Weavers, Woody & Arlo Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan, Judy Collins, and so many others benefited from his commitment and counsel. And America benefited from his brave stand for unfettered expression. From the nightmare years of the McCarthy era to whenever freedom was threatened, Harold fought the good fight. For 36 years, he was our client and friend - and wasn't that a time."

-Erwin, Ellen, Saul and Gideon (Erwin Frankel Productions)

As printed in the New York Times, October 6th, 2005. Erwin Frankel has worked with Harold with concert promotions for over 36 years.

The Fifth Weaver - by Jorge Arevalo

Speaker of the (Carnegie) Hall: An Interview with Harold Leventhal - by Michael Kleff

Harold Leventhal Presents - Artists & Other Projects

Harold Leventhal: THE FIFTH WEAVER
By Jorge Arevalo

In celebrating Harold Leventhal’s 65 years in the music industry we pay tribute to a man once described as “the Dean of Personal Managers” and acknowledge his immense contribution. While some of the elder folkies may recognize the name, associating it with artists such as The Weavers, Pete Seeger, Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Judy Collins and Arlo Guthrie, Leventhal’s unassuming and laid-back personality gives little indication of the scope of his personal experiences or accomplishments and their inextricable link to historic events, places, and people. Described by Millard Lampell as “the only folk singer who doesn't have to croak a note,” Leventhal’s memoirs could fill several volumes.

Born in Ellenville, NY in 1919, Harold Leventhal is the youngest of five children of orthodox Jewish, immigrant parents from the Ukraine and Lithuania. When only eight weeks old, his father’s premature death left the family without any clear means of financial support. The family relocated to Manhattan’s Lower East Side where his mother worked as the janitor of their building, and where he started school at P.S. 188. In 1933, the family moved to the Bronx. Even at the age of 15, Leventhal was an intellectually curious, politically motivated, idealistic and yet pragmatic individual. While a student at James Monroe High School, he began to explore a growing interest in the Jewish faith, at one time seriously considering rabbinical studies. Always delving into socially conscious politics he joined the local Young Communist League. While still in high school he was arrested for helping to organize the 1936 Oxford Pledge Strike--part of a movement to get people to promise they wouldn't participate in any wars. Involved in anti-Fascism and the union organizing struggles of the time, Leventhal’s youthful activism garnered for him a practical street education that would later serve his political and professional interests.

In 1939, after losing a factory job due to his union affiliation, Leventhal began his career in the music business. With the help of his older brother, Herbert, he secured a position as an office boy for the Irving Berlin Music Company, eventually advancing to the position of song plugger. During the 1940s Leventhal inhabited New York’s big band era nightlife, working the clubs and pitching Berlin’s songs to band leaders such as Harry James, the Dorsey brothers, and Benny Goodman. He later worked for the Regent Music Company which was run by Goodman and his brothers. Leventhal personally worked with many of the top pop singers of the day such as Frank Sinatra, Dinah Shore and Peggy Lee, helping many of them get their first big break. In the waning days of Tin Pan Alley, during the musical efflorescence of swing jazz and American popular song, Leventhal honed his knowledge of the burgeoning commercial music industry. The dynamic and lively scene also afforded him the opportunity to develop a keen awareness of audiences, to recognize their entertainment needs, and to carefully measure their responses. These talents further enhanced his understanding of the rapidly maturing music industry. He learned his trade - music marketing and promotion, concert production, and publishing - during what was the American recording industry’s most sustained period of widespread growth.

During World War II, he enlisted in the U.S. military, serving in the Signal Corps as a technical corporal. Stationed in India between 1944 and 1946, his political interests led him to seek out members of the Indian National Congress. His meetings with Jawaharlal Nehru and Mahatma Gandhi had a profound impact on his personal and political philosophy. The influence of both India’s first Prime Minister and consummate peacemaker would alter and forever affect his life, particularly during America’s civil rights struggles of the 1960s when he met with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. King asked Leventhal to recount Gandhi’s ideas on his political strategy of non-violence.

Following the war, Leventhal resumed his music business practice; however, with a decidedly different orientation than before. As part of New York's intellectual Left, his ongoing interest in liberal politics brought him into the orbit of American folk music. Alan Lomax's introduction of artists such as Lead Belly and Woody Guthrie, together with Pete Seeger, Molly Jackson, Josh White, Cisco Houston, and the Almanac Singers, became the living soundtrack for proletarian and progressive causes. A regular at political rallies and events which he often helped organize, Leventhal listened to and enjoyed these artists, whose music, with its undiluted, raw earthiness exuded a sense of social responsibility.

While working on the Henry Wallace presidential campaign of 1948, Leventhal met Pete Seeger and their lives have been closely enmeshed ever since. After seeing the Weavers perform at the Village Vanguard in 1949, Seeger asked Leventhal to manage The Weavers. Leventhal, who was appreciated by the Left for his business instincts, accepted. In 1955, fed up with the House Un-American Activties Committee hearings, the blacklist, and incessant FBI scrutiny, Leventhal defiantly instigated The Weavers’ reunion at the now historic Christmas Eve Carnegie Hall concert. The event resulted not only in marking the return of “America’s favorite folk singers” to the performance stage but is also generally acknowledged as the onset of the folk music revival movement--the socio-cultural movement which greatly impacted and revitalized the American Left. As Al “Red” Galdi, one of Leventhal’s longtime friends put it, “Harold had a big part in shaping the liberal thinking of the music business.” Always committed to his artists, Mr. Leventhal bought a full page ad in the May 1, 1965 issue of Variety to acknowledge The Weavers fifteenth anniversary. It contained the complete and unedited version of Guthrie’s “This Land is your Land.”

In 1954, Mr. Leventhal met Natalie Buxbaum at a private party he organized for the Indian delegation at the United Nations, where she worked as a tour guide. They married and have raised two daughters, Debra and Judith. [This May they celebrate their 50th Anniversary. They now boast four grandchildren: Danielle, Samantha, Jacob and Isaac.]

Despite the rampant paranoia of the Red Scare, Leventhal conducted his business without either compromising his artists or his personal integrity. Weaver member Fred Hellerman, calling Leventhal “the fifth Weaver,” stated that “Harold was always there for us . . . when all the rats deserted the sinking ship, there was Harold. He never deserted us.” For more than a half century, Leventhal has been Pete Seeger's personal manager, publisher, and trusted friend. Since 1955, he provided help and guidance to Woody Guthrie and his family, remaining by Guthrie’s side as the artist slowly descended into a fifteen year mortal bout with Huntington’s Disease. As a close friend and advisor, he oversaw the establishment of the Guthrie Children's Trust Fund. Serving as trustee and caretaker for what is now the Woody Guthrie Foundation and Archives, he ensured the perpetuation of Guthrie's legacy.

A cultural historian at heart, Leventhal has lent his efforts to numerous important preservation projects: Yiddish theater, the Paul Robeson Foundation, and the Lead Belly Foundation, among others. Concerned with honoring and maintaining cultural continuity, Leventhal has produced several significant tribute concerts, including the Woody Guthrie Tribute Concerts held at New York’s Carnegie Hall in 1968 and at the Hollywood Bowl in 1970; a tribute to Phil Ochs in 1976; and a tribute to Folkways Records founder Moses Asch in 1987.

With the commercial success of The Weavers, Leventhal demonstrated folk music’s commercial potential, gaining wide public and critical acceptance for it at unprecedented levels. His respect for folk artists and their music led many of them to seek out his representation as personal agent. For his part, Leventhal was only interested in artists he perceived to have lasting quality. Not surprisingly, he was known to politely decline requests by artists who would later become pop and rock superstars. Nevertheless, the Harold Leventhal Management artist roster for the 1950s and ‘60s reads like a “Who’s Who” list of seminal folk, blues and popular artists: Cisco Houston, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Mahalia Jackson, Leon Bibb, Tommy Makem and the Clancy Brothers, The Tarriers, Peter, Paul and Mary, Johnny Cash, Phil Ochs, Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, and Judy Collins, to name a few. In Mr. Leventhal’s estimation, Arlo Guthrie has held a very special place. For over thirty years, he has presented Arlo in a variety of settings and venues, including at the annual Carnegie Hall holiday concerts.

Mr. Leventhal also presented Bob Dylan at his first Town Hall concert on April 12, 1963 and introduced New York audiences to Joan Baez, Judy Collins and Joni Mitchell, foreshadowing the increasingly important role of women artists in folk and popular music. His talent at negotiating equitable and profitable recording contracts for his artists with the industry’s then major labels (Decca, RCA, and Columbia) is legend.

Leventhal was one of the first American concert producers to book international folk and ethnic artists into New York’s Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center. He introduced American audiences to Jacques Brel, Miriam Makeba, Nana Mouskouri, Enrico Macias, and many others. In effect, he might be considered New York’s first world music promoter, popularizing and internationalizing American folk and ethnic music’s, and introducing the notion of “world music” to audiences well before such a marketing concept existed. This achievement alone can be ranked for its cultural significance alongside the work of folk song collectors John and Alan Lomax, as well as that of jazz impresarios such as Leonard Feather, John Hammond, George Wein, Norman Granz, and Wynton Marsalis.

His cultural productions, however, were not limited to New York or the U.S. He booked tours for American folk artists in England, France, Eastern Europe and the former U.S.S.R. During the 1960s, while the State Department omitted American folk music from their cultural exchange program, Mr. Leventhal undertook the enterprise to produce concerts in the eastern bloc himself. He even appeared at the International Light Music Festival in Sopot (Danzig), Poland, marking the first time that an American was invited to participate as a judge. In many ways, Mr. Leventhal set the stage for Pete Seeger and others to serve as voices for something other than the official U.S. cultural policy.

Through the early 1960s and 70s, his abiding interest in theater led to a number of productions as well as a creative and business partnership with actor and producer Alan Arkin, resulting in several motion picture and television projects. In 1961, he co-produced Rabindranath Tagore's King of the Dark Chamber, which was staged as a dramatic theatrical work based on an Indian folk-ballad. It ran successfully for eight months garnering favorable reviews for its innovative blend of traditional and modern elements. Other productions with which Mr. Leventhal has been involved include Mark Twain’s America, starring Will Geer at the off-Broadway Folksay Theater; The Jewish State Theatre of Poland’s first ever U.S. presentation of Jacob Gordin’s Mirele Efros and Bertolt Brecht’s Mother Courage in 1966 with Yiddish star Ida Kaminska; Joseph Heller’s first play, We Bombed in New Haven, starring Jason Robards at the Ambassador Theater; Julius J. Epstein’s But Seriously at the Henry Miller Theatre, in which actor Richard Dreyfuss made his Broadway debut; Jules Feiffer’s The White House Murder Case at the Circle in the Square Theater in 1969; and, in 1974, Maxwell Anderson’s Joan of Lorraine.

In the 1960s, Leventhal began his involvement with numerous film productions, co-producing Arthur Penn’s Alice's Restaurant, starring Arlo Guthrie. In 1976 he produced Bound For Glory based on Woody Guthrie’s autobiography, which received two Academy Awards. In 1980, he co-produced Jim Brown’s documentary Wasn’t That A Time about The Weavers, and in 1989 received an Emmy Award for the television documentary We Shall Overcome. That same year, he received a Grammy award as producer of A Vision Shared: A Tribute to Woody Guthrie and Lead Belly (Columbia). In 1972, Mr. Leventhal acted as executive producer for the documentary Pete Seeger . . . A Song and a Stone. Underlying the broad themes found in each of these productions--whether it be drama, satire, documentary or comedy--one easily recognizes the seeds of Leventhal’s constant and enduring anti-war and progressive ethos.

According to noted biographer Ed Cray, Leventhal embodies the very definition of the Yiddish word mensch, or in Leo Rosten's words: “an upright, honorable, decent person ... Someone of consequence; someone to admire and emulate; someone of noble character.”

Leventhal’s humanitarian efforts and cultural contributions have just begun to be recognized outside his extended inner circle of family and friends. He recently received two Lifetime Achievement Awards from the Folk Alliance of North America and the Huntington's Disease Society of America.

To this day, Leventhal remains enthralled with Indian culture and politics: he was chairman of the American Friends of India and has been actively involved with the India League; he has arranged exhibitions by Indian artists such as Jamini Roy, M.F. Husain, and Satish Gujral; presented theater works by Rabindranath Tagore; and helped Satyajit Ray obtain a major showing of his first film in New York. Mr. Leventhal is also a dedicated collector of contemporary Indian art and literature.

At 84, Leventhal continues to provide insight and advice to past and new generations of artists and other cultural producers. Arlo Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Fred Hellerman and Nora Guthrie are only a few of those who confide and rely on their wise old friend for the experience that his life offers. He has demonstrated how personal faith and humor, along with social and political consciousness, can coexist and thrive at the interstices between the forces of capitalism and globalization. More significantly, he has instructed new generations to negotiate and articulate artful and meaningful ideas within them.

A man of faith and conscience, a devoted husband, father, and grandfather, Harold Leventhal’s love and understanding of people enabled him to bring Western and Eastern musical traditions, literature, theater, and fine arts to audiences around the world--and with it, humanistic thoughts and ideas. He has enriched world culture through the very means of cultural production that have created an otherwise all-pervasive commercialism. For Leventhal, quality and integrity are the essential universal qualities of human expression and cultural production, wherever and from whomever they derive.

---This article was first printed in the program book to the Tribute to Harold Leventhal Concert at Carnegie Hall on November 29th, 2003

Speaker of the (Carnegie) Hall
By Michael Kleff

What were the issues you were first interested in?

The vision was always that we’re gonna make the world a better place to live in. Both on a local level and our understanding of the world. There were two big political things at that time. One was the Spanish Civil War. Then there was the invasion by Mussolini of Ethiopia. Then they called it Abyssinia. Then the rise of Hitler. Those were the foreign issues.

The issue in our country was the fight of the organization of the unions. We gave a lot of support to the rise of the union movement, to fight for unemployment benefits, for social security. We stood at subways handing out flyers. We had street meetings. We tried to influence as many people as possible.

During World War II you were stationed in India. What was it like?

It was like going into a dreamland. We found the culture, and the way of living, entirely different than we had grown up in, in our own country. It took weeks for us to get accustomed to the culture and the living standards of India which were pretty poor, very poor at that time.

How did you meet Nehru?

I think it was in December of 1945. I read in the Calcutta newspapers that the leadership of the All India Congress, the main political organization fighting for independence, was to hold a meeting in Calcutta. It announced that attending the meeting would be Jawaharlal Nehru, who was then the leader of the Indian Congress, and Mahatma Gandhi, as well as all the other leaders of the country. Well, this was a rare opportunity to find all of these prominent people in one place. And I figured “How am I gonna get to try to meet these people?” Fortunately, I knew a family in Calcutta and the father was a prominent member of the Congress. I asked him if he would give me a note to take to where Nehru was. And he gave me a note. I went to the house. Hundreds of people were outside, in the gardens of the house. It was unusual for them to see someone in an army uniform going into the house. Then Nehru walked into the room and we were introduced. We sat down and Nehru said that he’s gonna have some meetings very soon and perhaps I could come back and we’ll spend “as much time as you want.” I said “Fine.” I noticed he was a chain smoker and then I offered to bring him a carton of cigarettes, which I did later on. I waited around and sure enough I was paged and Nehru got on the phone and told me I can come by within an hour or so, which I did. And then I became friendly with him. It was he that gave me a letter of introduction to Gandhi, which was unusual.

So you met Gandhi?

I had this note in my hand from Nehru. His secretary comes out and says “Gandhi can’t see you today. This is Thursday. He doesn’t talk on Thursdays. Come back tomorrow.” Fortunately, I asked him for the note back, which was handwritten by Nehru, and Gandhi had written on the bottom of it for me to come back. I still have this note in my house. I came back the next day. And I brought along with me a black soldier who was a well known communist in the United States. Gandhi was seated in his room running his spinning wheel. He asked someone to get us chairs but we said no, we will sit on the floor as he did. First question he asked was “Why are there American soldiers in India and what are you doing here? What is the attitude of the American soldiers? How was Paul Robeson? Who was Harry Truman?” And he kept probing us on the role of the American soldiers in India. He gave me, which I still have, the flag of the Indian National Congress. Nehru gave me a book. I did see Nehru when he came to New York, in ´64. He recognized me and his comments would satisfy Natalie when his first remark to me was “You gained weight.” I did, of course. (laughs)

Is India still a part of your life?

My experience in India was one of the highlights of my life. When I returned to the United States I helped organize a group called The American Friends of India which consisted of veterans who served in India. For all these years I have maintained a steady interest in India. I made repeated visits back there. I became acquainted with a lot of friends, some of whom became prime ministers, presidents of India, leaders in their government offices. I’ve been able to gather a very good collection of Indian contemporary paintings… probably the best private book collection on India in New York. So it’s been a big, big force in my lifestyle and my outlook on things.

Even in India, music and politics were closely related for you. How did you meet Ravi Shankar?

I met him as a young musician who was then leader of a musical group at the Indian Peoples' Theater Association in Calcutta. We became friends. And again, he came to the United States and we greeted each other and we see each other from time to time. He called me and wanted to know, ´cause he was also a good cook, he wanted to have a dinner. Could I invite Pete Seeger? Could I invite Bob Dylan? I called and of course they all came. Now, the interesting thing is we got there at about 7:30 pm and he said “Before we have dinner let me play a few ragas.” (laughs) The ragas went on for hours! We’re used to having dinner by eight o’clock! Dylan is looking at me and saying, “Hey, when are we gonna eat?” Finally, about 10:30 Ravi said, “Well, we’re ready to have food.” We were all exhausted.

When you returned from India, you resumed your contacts with the music world. You met people like Woody Guthrie, Cisco Houston, Sonny Terry, Pete Seeger and The Weavers. How did that happen?

I was reading The Daily Worker and I saw the columns by Woody Guthrie. I became more interested and went down to the big memorial concert for Lead Belly. I really became interested in that music before I met Pete Seeger. At that time I would go to the hootenannies because it was a political thing, too. And I would see Woody there, Lead Belly, Pete, and other people. So that was my introduction to that music.

It was later that I met Pete. We’d go to the same political events. Pete knew that I had worked for Irving Berlin. What we learned from the left was a good sense of organization. I mean, you had to carry out certain obligations on time and be exact. I had the feeling that I could do things in an organizational way. That’s what came up when Pete asked me to manage the Weavers. I said, “Sure I can.” That changed my whole life.

And not just in music, but also because of the political situation. I mean, the anxiety created by the Republican Senator Joseph McCarthy who started the witch hunt for so-called communists in politics, public service and culture. Even the success of “Goodnight Irene” couldn’t help The Weavers.

It was around 1951 when the whole Red Scare was beginning to rise. There was a publication that listed The Weavers as being communists. And therefore, there were certain organizations that demanded that the stores shouldn’t sell these records and radio stations shouldn’t play them. Then the bookers said “Well, there’s a little trouble getting you bookings.” And people in the industry would say “Why are you hanging around with these people? Nobody will come to you to manage them.” And I just kind of laughed at these guys and said, “You don’t understand what it’s all about!” So, I tried to be supportive of them, which I was, of course. Tried to fight all of these things. But you couldn’t fight them. The whole atmosphere was that everybody stayed away from you. When the blacklisting took its effect nobody in the music industry would come to our defense. They even avoided calling me up to say “Look, I can’t talk about it, but I think it’s terrible.” Nobody.

In 1955, Pete Seeger had to appear before the House Un-American Committee and was banned from TV and radio until the early ´60s. But you always found ways and means to schedule gigs for the Weavers and Pete, and find radio stations which, in spite of strong pressure, were willing to play their records.

People were scared but not frightened. In other words, they were annoyed at the situation. More so because a lot of people did not show any sympathy because they were afraid. So you became isolated. The left was being destroyed. But you stuck with it, because at least I felt I never did anything [to violate] the democratic principles of our country. This was a Red scare and we had a feeling that it was going to be over, sooner or later. So you stuck to your guns. We looked for other ways to make a living where possible, or we were able to live on what we were doing. I could have possibly made a much better living or been more successful, but I didn’t want to trade that in for what I believed in. I could have dropped the whole thing and gone on in the music or the entertainment business without this. But that’s not where I was.

Were you personally threatened?

The FBI used to come around wanting me to discuss things with them. Their main question was “As a good American, don’t you want to tell us about the menace of the communists that you’re a member of?” Either you talked to them or you said “no” and shut the door on them. I said “no” and I shut the door. Of course I was scared, but I knew there were other people going through the same thing. Things were tough enough. They couldn’t have made it tougher for me... I wasn’t losing a big job with a lot of money.

They used to come [to the office], and call me at home. They would wait for me downstairs in my building. Always two guys. And it was obvious. They walked across when I went to the subway, nudging me. And I never said a word to them. I did have a lawyer waiting in the wings. He said, “Just ignore them.” Within a year after they started this, they disappeared. But years ago, when I got my FBI reports… boy, they knew everything!

Up until 1955, I couldn’t get a passport. Pete couldn’t get a passport. The State Department would not give passports to alleged Reds. I have an official letter in which they turned me down. I didn’t go overseas until 1960.

How did your political beliefs transfer to your work?

As a manager, or concert producer, I could use that organizational talent for left wing or progressive causes. And I did. Around the early fifties I left the communist movement as many of us did. But that doesn’t destroy or kill the kind of things that you believed in… justice, civil rights. That struggle was still there. So you transfer all of that to the struggles of the time, which in the late fifties was the civil rights movement. Then later on the anti-Vietnam movement. Whenever I was called upon to sponsor events that would raise money for these causes, I did.

It was August ´63 that there was the famous speech that Martin Luther King, Jr. made in Washington. It had to do with breaking the question of the race situation in the United States. I was fortunate that I had met Dr. Martin Luther King. On one occasion I told him that I had met Mahatma Gandhi. He spent an hour with me just [asking me] to tell him about Mahatma Gandhi.

I dealt a lot with the black leaders, the young leaders in the South, helping them arrange affairs where money was being raised. I did not go down to the South on these demonstrations. But certainly, the people in our office went. Pete was a leader of that and Theodore Bikel at that time, Judy Collins, even Arlo [Guthrie]. I got Bob Dylan to go down at that time. I was back in the office dealing with the various people, setting up programs to raise money. I felt that was my contribution. There weren’t too many artists, considering the numbers around, that even participated in that. One of the rare ones was the jazz singer Tony Bennett who went down to the South.

Pete Seeger wrote about you, “He has done something extraordinary for The Weavers. He risked his own head and believed in us when nobody else did. You might say he believed in America.” Thinking of the present political situation, is it hard to still believe in America?

Well, honestly, I feel somewhat depressed, politically. This is the worst in my history of being around as a citizen. We got an administration that is on the border of [being] neo-fascist, in my opinion. And this is it. This is a calamity.

Thinking about all the years you fought for a better world, how do you feel now? Is it painful?

I don’t think it’s painful. Disappointing is the word. That doesn’t mean I shouldn’t continue being in progressive causes, or causes that are for the better of minorities. Those causes are still there. You just don’t give up. You’re always somewhat optimistic that somewhere along the line whatever you stand for is gonna come true. It’s the struggle of getting there that has become very difficult. The atmosphere in our country today is extremely difficult. We don’t have enough forces that we might have had 30 years ago to rally around good causes. We’ve been marginalized. Apparently the right wingers don’t care what we say. They let us say it because they know, or they think, that we don’t mean anything. This is what’s happening to a great extent.

I’m optimistic because, look, we got rid of Nixon! Whoever heard of a president being kicked out? There is the ability in this country, in spite of its faults, in spite of its difficulties, you can open your mouth. You might get arrested in some places (laughs) but you get out. There’s a lawyer gonna get you out!

Do you ever regret your decision not to join the big music business when you had the opportunity to, and instead stuck to your principles and friends?

I am extremely proud and happy that I had the chance to work with unique people. Whether it’s Woody Guthrie, The Weavers, Pete, Judy Collins, Arlo Guthrie, Theodore Bikel, Alan Arkin. These are good people. Talented people. And I worked very well with them. That in itself is a satisfaction. I made a contribution in permitting these people to flourish, or helping them flourish. You know, Pete … I quote him a lot ´cause he comes up with quotes (laughs) … he got a Grammy Award. They went into a room with people from the press and someone said, “Mr. Seeger, how do you feel, at your age,” and Pete was then probably 78, “at this late date in your career to have first won this award?” Pete looked at the guy and he said, “I never had a career. I did what I wanted to do.”

In a sense, too, I did what I wanted to do. I had many opportunities to advance myself in the business. I chose not to. I made a reasonably good living out of it. And I felt I had to be part of the people I was working with. I felt part of them.

You’ve been married to Natalie for 49 years. She once told me that humor has helped the two of you get through everything. Is this true?

Yes. And being hopeful. Feeling that you’re doing the right thing. The rationale that whatever you do, you think it’s the right thing. Perhaps not everything but on the whole you feel the decisions that you make, whether it’s political decisions or decisions about living conditions of your own, you’re doing the right thing. And in the process you’re working with people that have similar feelings that you have, so you are not completely isolated.

What do you enjoy doing now?

I like to read. I like to listen to music… I used to go to the theater a lot but it becomes a little more difficult and I’m almost revolting because the theater costs so much. I can afford it, but why should I spend that kind of money for these things? I’m annoyed with frivolous things. I mean the whole development in the music scene is really negative as far as I am concerned. It’s shallow, it’s meaningless. It’s all hype. This country is built on hype.

I’m turning 84 in a month. I’ve been through a lot, and collected things. I looked at some things I had, little notebooks I made in 1932 and I’m reading them. Memo books, what I did in the day, even how much I spent, carfare, lunch money. In a sense, I have a record of my life. Paper records, photo records, mementos. I still continue my interest in India … I think what I wanna do in the next year or so is spend more time assembling all of these things, so that it’s not dispersed. It will be left as a memo of what I’ve done. Either for the family or whoever wants to use it.


American Artists:

Alan Arkin
Clarence Ashley
Aztec Two-Step
The Babysitters
Joan Baez
Harry Belafonte
Irving Berlin
Leon Bibb
Theodore Bikel
Oscar Brand
Diahann Carroll
Johnny Cash
The Chad Mitchell Trio
Chamber Brothers
Len Chandler
Charles River Valley Boys
John Cohen
Judy Collins
Miriam Colon
Clarence Cooper
Bill Cosby
Elizabeth Cotton
Erik Darling
Ossie Davis
Robert DeCormier
Neil Diamond
Paul Draper
Bob Dylan
Duke Ellington
Ramblin' Jack Elliott
Even Dozen Jug Band
Lester Flatt
The Foggy Mountain Boys
Bob Gibson
Ronnie Gilbert
Benny Goodman
Dexter Gordon
The Greenbriar Boys
Arlo Guthrie
Woody Guthrie
John Hammond, Jr.
Lee Hays
Fred Hellerman
Lightnin' Hopkins
Cisco Houston
Mahalia Jackson
The John Lewis Orchestra
Rev. Frederick Kirkpatrick
Jim Kweskin & the Hub
Tub & Jug Band
Peter La Farge
Robert LeHouse
The Mamas and the Papas
Frederick Martin
Joni Mitchell
Modern Jazz Quartet
Bill Monroe & his
Bluegrass Boys
Holly Near
The Neighbors
New Lost City Ramblers
Phil Ochs
Tom Paley
Tom Paxton
Peter, Paul & Mary
Jean Ritchie
Earl Robinson
Buffy Sainte-Marie
Jane Sapp
Tracy Schwarz
Martha Schlamme
Earl Scruggs
Peggy Seeger
Pete Seeger
Mike Seeger
Nina Simone
Carly & Lucy Simons
The Tarriers
Mary Travers
Dave Van Ronk
Chet Washington
Doc Watson
The Weavers
Eric Weissberg
Hedy West
Glenn Yarbrough
Neil Young

International Artists:

Adamo - France
Gilbert Becaud - France
Rolf Bjoerling - Denmark
Jacques Brel -Belgium
The Clancy Brothers – Ireland
Shoshana Damari - Israel
Manitas de Plata - Spain
Donovan - Scotland
Leon Gieco – Argentina
Guella Gill -Israel
Ida Kaminska - Poland
Monique Leyrac - Canada
The Little Singers of Tokyo
Ewan MacColl - Scotland
Enrico Macias - France
Miriam Makeba – South Africa
Tommy Makem - Ireland
Mireille Mathieu - France
The McPeake Family – N. Ireland
Nana Mouskouri - Greece
Georges Moustaki - France
Paris-Rive Gauche – France
Pentangle - England
Jean Redpath - Scotland
Regine - France
Amalia Rodriguez – Portugal
Juan Serrano - Spain
Ravi Shankar - India
Mercedes Sosa - Argentina
Alan Stivell - France
Turkish State
Folk Dance Ensemble
Atahualpa Yupanqui – Argentina
Oranim Zabar - Israel


Special Productions:

Bound for Glory Tribute to Woody Guthrie
Pythian Hall - 1956

Tagore Centenary Celebration
Town Hall - 1961

Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday Benefit
Carnegie Hall - 1961

Tribute to Woody Guthrie
Carnegie Hall – 1968

Tribute to Woody Guthrie
Hollywood Bowl - 1970

Tribute to Phil Ochs
Madison Square Garden - 1976

Tribute to Paul Robeson
Carnegie Hall - 1983

50th Anniversary Tribute to the Abraham Lincoln Brigade
Lincoln Center - 1986

Tribute to Moe Asch
Symphony Space - 1987

Broadway and Off Broadway:

But Seriously, Jules Epstein
On Broadway - 1969

From Mark Twain to Lynn Riggs, Will Geer
Off-Broadway - 1952-1953

Jewish State Theater of Poland
On Broadway - 1966-1967

Joan of Lorraine, Max Anderson
Off-Broadway - 1974

King of the Dark Chamber,
Rabindranath Tagore
Off-Broadway - 1961

We Bombed In New Haven, Joseph Heller
Broadway – 1967

The White House Murder Case, Jules Feiffer
Off-Broadway – 1969

Woody Guthrie, Tom Taylor
Off-Broadway – 1980


TV & Films:

Alice’s Restaurant, Associate Producer
United Artists - 1969

Bound For Glory, Co-Producer
Academy Award Winner, United Artists – 1976

Hard Travelin’, Co-Producer
MGM/UA – 1983

Pete Seeger… A Song and a Stone, Co-Producer
Sony - 1972

Pete Seeger Family Concert, Co-Producer
Sony – 1992

A Vision Shared, Co-Producer
Sony – 1988

Wasn’t That A Time, Co-Producer
MGM/UA – 1981

We Shall Overcome, Co-Producer
Emmy Award Winner – 1988

Return to the top



125-131 E. Main Street, Suite #200 | Mt. Kisco, NY 10549
T: (914) 241-3844 | E: info(at)woodyguthrie.org

Copyright 2001-2020, Woody Guthrie Publications, Inc.
Site design by Anna Canoni.