Monday, January 21, 2008

John Stewart's passed

Musician John Stewart passed away in San Diego this past weekend, at age 68.

Before his long solo career and a string of albums, Stewart had been part of the folk music revival of the late 1950's.
From 1961 - 1967 he was a member of The Kingston Trio, replacing original member Dave Guard.

From growing up in Mill Valley, California, I have many memories of John Stewart.

I went to elementary school with his kids, and the Stewarts lived right around the corner from my family for several years.
I'll guess that it was after the divorce that Mrs. Stewart and the children moved across town.
I saw less of them afterwards.

Jeremy Stewart and I used to play together sometimes prior to that; we were in the same grade.

I remember his Dad came in to our classroom to visit and perform for us a couple of times in first or second grade.

I still remember one of those times in the classroom, being fascinated by the leather fringe on his coat and his voice that reminded me of Johnny Cash. I also remember it feeling strange that I had just seen him on TV the night before on the Smothers Brothers show (or some such).

Over the many years following you'd spot him occasionally around Mill Valley. Kinda silver-haired, maybe sporting a big 'ol cowboy hat. Just another townie. Sometimes he'd perform at The Sweetwater, the local nightclub.

I've always liked his earlier solo albums, especially the song 'Never Goin' Back', off of the
'California Bloodlines' LP from '69.

He'd pretty much fallen off my radar by the time of his small resurgence of popularity in the '80's, but in recent years it'd been nice to see him attain something of a 'venerable' status in his career.

See also:
- John Stewart's obituary from the New York Times.

- ChillyWinds.Com - The official John Stewart homepage

- From YouTube - - John Stewart with The Kingston Trio performing 'Where Have All the Flowers Gone?' and 'The Early Morning Rain' on TV in 1966.

6 comments:

erik hogstrom said...

I didn't realize he was a Marinite.
This Sonoma County guy offers his condolences for the passing of a music legend.

The In Crowd said...

Hey Erik - -

His Marin status was ongoing, but I *suspect* that his actual residency there was off and on over the years.

strate8 said...

I only met John once when he was in concert with the Kingston Trio at Lagoon in Salt Lake City. I went backstage during the break and asked him how he strummed the banjo with Finger Picks, he took the whole break to visit with me and show me how he strummed the banjo. He was a real sincere, kind man who I personally will miss. His voice and talents are legend.

Tom in Utah said...

Like everyone else back in the 1960s, I listened to the Kingston Trio. I remember their song about the Battle of New Orleans as a particular favorite.

I first became aware of John Stewart as a solo artist through a friend when I was attending Ohio State University. I remember clearly sitting on the floor in Tom Conry's apartment as we listened to "The Phoenix Concerts" live album. Tom and I had similar tastes in music ... Phil Ochs, Gordon Lightfoot and Harry Chapin were among our favorites. Tom was a talented guitarist and a singer-songwriter himself, and he had a small folk trio that covered some of their work.

John Stewart's frank and personal lyrics and his storytelling ability, especially on numbers like "The Pirates of Stone County Road" and "Mother Country" quickly made him another of my favorite artists.

I need to visit his website and order some of his later CDs. It's been a few years since I listened to his current work.

He was one of a kind and will be missed.

bob_bradley said...

Very sad to hear of John's passing. My brother and I were fortunate to be able to video one of his shows in the UK with his blessing. It was the only time I met him and he was one of those people who it was easy to call 'cool'. I think he would have liked that.

My brother is the bigger fan but I liked his music and it was easy to understand why he was considered a living legend.

Timmy said...

I recall when John Stewart was dissed in favouritism of Bob Dylan's soundtrack for the film "Pat Garret & Billy The Kid" by Sam Peckinpah. He was REALLY distressed over it & wrote one of my favourite songs, resulting from his that experience; "Durango". Give it a listen. He was a genuine great.

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