Ramblin' Jack Elliot

A major folk singer for decades, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott (b. 1931) bridges the gap between folk music of the Woody Guthrie era and that of the current scene.

Jack Elliott picked up the "Ramblin’” nickname due to his tendency to tell long stories. His father was a doctor and his family hoped that Elliott would follow in his footsteps, but instead he ran away from home at the age of 15 and joined the J.E. Ranch Radio. Tracked down by his parents after three months, Elliott reluctantly returned home. However he had heard a rodeo clown play guitar and sing songs, and he was inspired to teach himself guitar. Although he eventually attended college, Elliott had more fun entertaining listeners during his off hours.

Influenced by Woody Guthrie, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott often performed with Guthrie during 1952-1954. He visited Europe in 1955 and had success in England, recording his first album as a leader. Elliott teamed with banjoist Derroll Adams during part of his six years overseas and he also toured with Pete Seeger and the Weavers, gaining an international reputation.

Back in the United States in 1961, Elliott became part of the folk music revival, appearing at many festivals and befriending Bob Dylan (with whom he toured in the mid-1970s) and Jerry Garcia. In later years he occasionally sat in with the Grateful Dead.

Among Jack Elliott’s best recordings is a pair of definitive sets made for Fantasy: Hard Travelin’ and Country Style/Live. Taken as a whole, these two releases display his artistry, his diverse repertoire, and his pure joy at performing.