Dave Van Ronk

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Mon Feb 11 17:31:45 MST 2002

[Apparently Van Ronk was friendly with a group called the Workers
League back in the sixties, which was Gerry Healy's branch office in
the USA. Fortunately that did not affect his vocal chords.]

NY Times, February 11, 2002

Dave Van Ronk, 65, Folk Singer and Early Mentor to Bob Dylan, Dies

Dave Van Ronk, a folk singer on the early 1960's New York music scene
and an early mentor to Bob Dylan, died yesterday in Manhattan. He was
65 and had been treated for colon cancer, his record company said.

Nicknamed the Mayor of Greenwich Village in deference to his
authoritative knowledge of jazz and blues, Mr. Van Ronk was an
influential performer for four decades. He died at New York
University Medical Center, said Mitchell Greenhill, president of
Folklore Productions, who was at his bedside.

Although Mr. Van Ronk never achieved great commercial success, he
toured, recorded and taught guitar until the end of last year, when
he underwent colon cancer surgery in November.

His most recent album was the jazz-influenced "Sweet & Lowdown,"
which was released last year. He received a Grammy nomination for
traditional folk in 1996 for "From . . . Another Time & Place."

Mr. Van Ronk's last concert, in Adelphi, Md., on Oct. 22, had been
recorded, and Van Ronk spent his last weeks going through the tapes
to prepare a live album, Mr. Greenhill said.

Mr. Van Ronk, a Brooklyn native, befriended a young Minnesotan, Mr.
Dylan, when he arrived in New York, and Mr. Dylan frequently stayed
in Mr. Van Ronk's Greenwich Village apartment. Even after Mr. Dylan
became a star, he and Mr. Van Ronk maintained a "sporadic but warm"
relationship, Mr. Greenhill said. In 1974, Mr. Van Ronk appeared with
Mr. Dylan and others at a benefit for Chilean political prisoners.

Mr. Van Ronk recorded about 20 albums beginning in the late 1950's,
winning praise for his gritty interpretations of artists as diverse
as Louis Armstrong, the Rev. Gary Davis, Leonard Cohen and Randy
Newman. Mr. Van Ronk was also a songwriter, and showcased his talents
on the album "Going Back to Brooklyn."

Perhaps most notably, Mr. Van Ronk expanded the melody of the old
blues song "He Was A Friend of Mine," which was later adapted by the
Byrds as a tribute to John F. Kennedy. Mr. Van Ronk also added chords
to "Baby, Let Me Follow You Down," and was a co-owner of the
copyright, Mr. Greenhill said.

Mr. Dylan recorded both those songs, along with other tunes covered
by Mr. Van Ronk, including Bukka White's "Fixin' to Die Blues," Blind
Lemon Jefferson's "See That My Grave Is Kept Clean" and "Cocaine

On the liner notes of his self-titled debut album, Mr. Dylan credited
Mr. Van Ronk with introducing him to "House of the Rising Sun."

Mr. Van Ronk is survived by his wife, Andrea Vuocolo.

Louis Proyect, lnp3 at panix.com on 02/11/2002

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