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Ramblin' Jack Elliott

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Ramblin’ Jack Elliott (born Elliott Charles Adnopoz, 1 August 1931) is a Grammy Award winning American folk performer.

Originally from New York, Elliott grew up in a Jewish family and had always wanted to be a cowboy. Pressured by his parents to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a doctor, Elliott resisted and inspired by the rodeos he attended at Madison Square Garden, he ran away from home at the age of 15 and joined the J.E. Ranch Rodeo. Although he was only with the rodeo for three months (before his parents tracked him down and he was sent home), Elliott was exposed to his first singing cowboy, a rodeo clown who played guitar and banjo and sang songs.

Returning home, Elliott taught himself to play guitar and started busking for a living. Eventually he hooked up with Woody Guthrie and lived with him as a kind of student.

With banjo player Derroll Adams, he later toured Great Britain and Europe and had a lasting effect on the music scene there. By 1960, he had made three folk albums for the British label, Topic. Playing in the small clubs and pubs of London by day, he would then take his act to the smart, west end night clubs. Upon arriving back in the U.S., Elliott discovered he had become well-known within the folk scene.

Elliott’s greatest influence was Woody Guthrie. Guthrie’s son, Arlo, has said that because of his dad’s illness and early death, he never really got to know him. Arlo acknowledged that he learned his dad’s songs and musical style through Elliott.

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