Eric Andersen

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For other people of the same name, see Eric Anderson (disambiguation).
Eric Andersen
Eric Andersen.jpg
Background information
Born (1943-02-14) February 14, 1943 (age 72)
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States
Genres Folk, Folk rock, Blues
Occupation(s) Singer-Songwriter
Instruments Guitar, Harmonica, Piano, Keyboards, Vocals
Years active 1963–present

Eric Andersen (born February 14, 1943) is an American singer-songwriter,[1] who has written songs recorded by Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, Judy Collins, Linda Ronstadt, Grateful Dead & many others. Early in his career, in the 1960s, he was part of the Greenwich Village folk scene. After two decades & sixteen albums of solo performance he became a member of the supergroup Danko/Fjeld/Andersen. Since the late 1990s, he has resumed his solo career. Andersen is still recording & performing live in Europe, Japan and North America.

Personal history[edit]

Eric Andersen's grandfather immigrated from Norway.[2] Eric Andersen was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and he grew up in Snyder, New York, which is a suburb of Buffalo. Elvis Presley made an impression on him when 15-year-old Andersen saw him perform.[3] He moved through Boston and San Francisco, where he met Tom Paxton, finally settling in New York City at the height of the Greenwich Village folk movement.[4]

Andersen was a resident of Woodstock, New York between 1975 and 1983. After Woodstock, Andersen moved to Oslo, Norway and maintained a residence in New York City.[5] He currently lives in the Netherlands. He was at one point married to former Cambridge folksinger Debbie Green,[6] who contributed guitar, piano, and backing vocal performances to various Eric Andersen records released between 1965 and 1975. He married Dutch sociologist and singer Inge Andersen in 2006. He has a daughter Sari (with Debbie Green), who contributed backing vocal performances to his Memory of the Future album.

Musical career[edit]

1964–1969: Folk breakthrough[edit]

In the early 1960s, Eric Andersen was part of the Greenwich Village folk scene in New York.[1] His best-known songs from the 1960s folk era are "Violets of Dawn", "Come to My Bedside", and "Thirsty Boots" (the latter recorded by Judy Collins, Bob Dylan, amongst others).[7]

In 1964, Andersen made his debut at Gerdes Folk City in a live audition for Vanguard Records. In 1965 he released his first Vanguard album Today is the Highway.[2] In 1966 he made his Newport Folk Festival debut. The Beatles manager Brian Epstein was in the process of becoming his manager when Epstein died.[3]

1970s: Singer-songwriter era[edit]

Andersen took part in the Festival Express tour across Canada in 1970 with the Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, The Band, Delaney Bramlett and others.

Andersen signed with Columbia in 1972 and issued his most commercially successful album Blue River. From the Blue River album, the song "Is It Really Love At All?" is most popular.[8] The master tapes of his follow-up album Stages were lost before the album could be released, resulting in the loss of much of the momentum he had gained with Blue River.[1]

Andersen parted ways with Columbia and recorded sporadically for a number of labels throughout the remainder of the 1970s and into the early 1980s. In 1975 he performed with Arlen Roth at the opening show of Bob Dylan's Rolling Thunder Revue at Gerde's Folk City and again in Niagara Falls.

In the late 70s, Andersen was also a member of The Woodstock Mountains Revue, a unique folk group that also featured Artie Traum, Happy Traum and John Sebastian.[9]

1980s: Europe[edit]

Andersen fell into obscurity for a number of years for audiences in United States. After moving to Europe, he recorded three albums, including Midnight Son, Tight in the Night and Istanbul. Andersen established his own company, Wind and Sand Records, to sell his music through mail order.[2][10]

Andersen reemerged in 1988 with a new album, Ghosts Upon the Road. Though the album only did modestly well, it was widely praised and placed on a number of critics' year-end "best of" lists.[3] The title track was a 10 1/2-minute autobiographical song that Andersen wrote about when he lived in Beacon Hill, Boston and moved to New York City in 1964.[5]

Stages: The Lost Album[edit]

The Stages tapes were found nearly two decades after they had been lost. Forty boxes consisting of the original master tapes were found October 1989 in the vaults at Columbia Records in New York. The album recorded after Blue River and it featured guest artists such as Leon Russell, Joan Baez and Dan Fogelberg.[11] It was issued in 1991 as Stages: The Lost Album.[12]

1990s: Danko/Fjeld/Andersen Supergroup[edit]

At this time in his career, Andersen was living in Oslo, Norway, and, in the early 1990s, Andersen joined the trio Danko/Fjeld/Andersen with Rick Danko (The Band) and the Norwegian singer-songwriter, Jonas Fjeld. The trio recorded three albums and performed together for nine years.[13][14]

1998-Present: Late solo work[edit]

In 1998, Andersen released his first solo album in a decade, Memory of the Future. Praised as "dreamy and introspective", the album was followed two years later by You Can't Relive The Past, which included original blues numbers as well as a selection of songs co-written with Townes Van Zandt.

A double album Beat Avenue followed in 2003. Besides mostly rock-dominated ballads, the album's 26-minute title track was a jazzy beat poem relating his experiences among San Francisco's beat community of artists on the day of President John F. Kennedy's assassination.

Andersen's next albums, The Street Was Always There in 2004 and Waves in 2005, were both produced by multi-instrumentalist Robert Aaron. In addition to covers of his own songs, the albums featured new versions of classics by his sixties contemporaries and friends, including David Blue, Bob Dylan, Richard Fariña, Tim Hardin, Peter La Farge, Fred Neil, Phil Ochs, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Paul Siebel, Patrick Sky, Tom Paxton, John Sebastian, Happy Traum, Lou Reed, and Tom Rush. His next album Blue Rain, released in 2007, was his first live album. It was recorded in Norway and contains a blend of blues, jazz and folk.

In 2011, Andersen released his second live album The Cologne Concert featuring Michele Gazich on violin and Eric's wife Inge Andersen on backing vocals.

In 2013, Andersen performed in Greenwich Village: Music That Defined a Generation, a feature-length documentary about the Greenwich Village music scene, which was issued on DVD in November.

In August 2014, Andersen released a special-limited-edition double 10" vinyl record "Shadow and Light of Albert Camus" featuring Michele Gazich on violin and piano, with coverdesign paintings of de:Oliver Jordan

Andersen has completed the recording of his new album Dance of Love and Death. The album is co-produced, recorded and mixed by Steve Addabbo (Suzanne Vega), other musicians include Lenny Kaye (Patti Smith Group), Larry Campbell (musician) (Bob Dylan band; Phil Lesh and Friends, Levon Helm Band), Michele Gazich (Mary Gauthier, Mark Olson (musician), Michelle Shocked), Steve Addabbo, Robert Aaron and Inge Andersen. The record is expected to be released in 2015.

Presently nearing completion, the documentary "The Songpoet", directed by Paul Lamont, is a film about Eric featuring interviews, live performance and behind the scenes footage of the recording sessions for "Dance of Love and Death" .

Musical legacy[edit]

In his lengthy career, Andersen has issued more than 25 albums to which many artists have contributed, including Joan Baez, Dan Fogelberg, Al Kooper, Willie Nile, Joni Mitchell, Lou Reed, Leon Russell, Richard Thompson, Rick Danko, Garth Hudson, Eric Bazilian, Arlen Roth, Tony Garnier, Howie Epstein, and many others. His songs have been recorded by artists all over the world, including the Blues Project, Johnny Cash, Judy Collins, Peter, Paul & Mary, John Denver, The Dillards, Ricky Nelson, Fairport Convention, Grateful Dead, Ratdog (Bob Weir), Bob Dylan, Linda Ronstadt, Gillian Welch, Mary-Chapin Carpenter, Françoise Hardy, Rick Danko, Linda Thompson, The Kingston Trio and Pete Seeger.

Richard Harrington, music critic for The Washington Post, wrote, "No other songwriter born in the generation between World War II and Korea has better explored the insistence of love, whether it be sensible or hopeless, beseeched or betrayed."[15]


In 2003, Andersen won the it:Premio Tenco award with Patti Smith in San Remo, Italy. It is an award given to outstanding songwriters. Previous awards have gone to Jackson Browne, Tom Waits, Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen and Randy Newman.


In 1999 Andersen wrote an essay titled "My Beat Journal" for the "Rolling Stone Book of the Beats." That same year he published an article in The National Geographic Traveler called "Coastal Norway" .

In 2009, Andersen contributed an essay titled The Danger Zone to the Naked Lunch @ 50: Anniversary Essays, a book volume edited by Oliver Harris and Ian MacFadyen devoted to William S. BurroughsNaked Lunch, considered one of the landmark publications in the history of American literature.

Andersen wrote the lyric texts, composed music, and recorded songs for painter Oliver Jordan's Albert Camus exhibition called "Paintings out of Revolt." This exhibition first took place for the Camus centenary in Aix-en-Provence in 2013, and is at the LVR-Landesmuseum, Bonn, Germany during the summer of 2014.

In 2013 Andersen wrote the liner notes for "The Essential Pete Seeger" for Sony/Legacy Records


  • Today Is the Highway (1965)
  • 'Bout Changes 'n' Things (1966)
  • 'Bout Changes 'n' Things Take 2 (1967)
  • More Hits From Tin Can Alley (1968)
  • Single: "Think About It" / "So Hard To Fall" (1968)
  • A Country Dream (1969)
  • Avalanche (1969)
  • Eric Andersen (1970)
  • Blue River (1972)
  • Be True To You (1975)
  • Sweet Surprise (1976)
  • Midnight Son (1980)
  • Tight In The Night (1984)
  • Istanbul (1985) original soundtrack
  • Ghosts Upon The Road (1988)
  • Stages: The Lost Album (1991) mostly recorded in 1972-73, with three brand new tracks
  • Danko/Fjeld/Andersen - Rick Danko, Jonas Fjeld & Eric Andersen (1991)
  • Ridin' on the Blinds - Rick Danko, Jonas Fjeld & Eric Andersen (1994)
  • Kerouac: Kicks Joy Darkness - Various Artists (1997)
  • Memory Of The Future (1998)
  • You Can't Relive The Past (2000)
  • One More Shot - Rick Danko, Jonas Fjeld & Eric Andersen (2001) (2 CD's)
  • Beat Avenue (2002) (2 CD's)
  • Street Was Always There: Great American Song Series, Vol. 1 (2004)
  • Waves: Great American Song Series, Vol. 2 (2005)
  • Blue Rain - live (2007)
  • So Much on My Mind: The Anthology (1969–1980) (2007)
  • Avalanche (2008, reissue)[1]
  • The Cologne Concert - live (2011)
  • Shadow in the Light of Albert Camus (2014)

Filmography & DVD appearances[edit]

In 1965, Eric Andersen starred in the Andy Warhol movie Space, in which he sang.[3]

In 1984, Andersen appeared as a guest in a film documentary about Phil Ochs called Chords of Fame and sang the Och's song, "When I'm Gone".[16]

In 1985, Andersen wrote original music for the movie Istanbul, starring Brad Dourif.

In 2012, the filmmaker Paul Lamont (Toward Castle Films) started the production of The Songpoet, a documentary film, which is expected to be ready for global distribution in 2015.



  1. ^ a b c d Strong, Martin C. (2000). The Great Rock Discography (5th ed.). Edinburgh: Mojo Books. pp. 22–23. ISBN 1-84195-017-3. 
  2. ^ a b c Babad, Michael (November 8, 1985). "'60s folk singer returns to the road". United Press International. 
  3. ^ a b c d Elder, Bruce (January 16, 1990). "Good Voices, Great Songs, Wrong Attitude; Folk". Sydney Morning Herald. p. 11. 
  4. ^ "Eric Andersen 1999 Inductee Buffalo Music Hall of Fame". Retrieved 2014-02-21. 
  5. ^ a b MacInnis, Craig (June 24, 1989). "Eric Andersen starts over". Toronto Star. p. J3. 
  6. ^ Eric Von Schmidt and Jim Rooney (1994), Baby, Let Me Follow You Down: The Illustrated Story of the Cambridge Folk Years (2nd Ed.). University of Massachusetts Press, Amherst. p. 229.
  7. ^ Roxon, Lilian: Lilian Roxon's Rock Encyclopedia (Grosset and Dunlop, Universal Library Edition, 1972) p3 ISBN 0-448-00255-8
  8. ^ DeCurtis, Anthony (April 27, 2003). "Eric Andersen distills the present from the past". New York Times. 
  9. ^ Ruhlmann, William. "Biography: Woodstock Mountain Revue". Allmusic. Retrieved 21 May 2010. 
  10. ^ MacInnis, Craig (November 14, 1986). "Will pillow power pay off for songwriters?". Toronto Star. p. D10. 
  11. ^ "Album reviews". Billboard. June 14, 1991. 
  12. ^ Holden, Stephen. "The Pop Life". The New York Times. p. C13. 
  13. ^ Howell, Peter (July 26, 1991). "Preston horns in on Band's latest waltz". Toronto Star. p. D12. 
  14. ^ Lamey, Mary (March 8, 1997). "A world of women's voices". The Gazette (Quebec). 
  15. ^ Harrington, Richard (October 14, 1978). "Eric Andersen". The Washington Post. p. B2. 
  16. ^ Maslin, Janet (February 16, 1984). "Film: Phil Ochs, A Short Biography". New York Times. p. C23. 

External links[edit]