Louis Gottlieb

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Dr. Louis Gottlieb (October 10, 1923 – July 11, 1996) was bassist and lofty comic spokesman for The Limeliters. He earned his Ph.D in Musicology.[1] He was considered one of the so-called "new comedy" performers such as Mort Sahl, Nichols and May, and Lenny Bruce: a new generation of unabashed intellectuals.

Lou's special trademark on stage was a delightful burlesquing of the university pedant, the sort of teacher who knocks himself out over the jokes in Chaucer while his restless and puzzled class has nothing on its collective mind that happened earlier than last night's date. "Many of the things I have been enthusiastic about," agreed Gottlieb, "mean absolutely nothing to most people."

The Limeliters[edit]

For more details on this topic, see The Limeliters.

Gottlieb's doctoral thesis on 15th century cyclic masses was completed when he heard Hassilev and Yarbrough sing together at Hollywood's Cosmo Alley nightclub. He joined the group, which named themselves after the Limelite Club in Aspen, Colorado.

In July 1959, The Limeliters appeared as a trio for the first time at the hungry i in San Francisco, with Gottlieb as "the comic-arranger- musicologist, Glenn the golden-voiced tenor and guitarist, and Alex the instrumental virtuoso" (to quote from one of their song collections, "Cheek In Our Tongue"). San Francisco music critic John Wasserman said the Limeliters "attained a stature equalled perhaps only by the Kingston Trio and the Weavers." The group's biggest hit was "A Dollar Down" in 1961, but was well known for its 15 albums and its concerts during the 1960s. The group disbanded after a near-fatal plane crash in Colorado in December 1962.

During the 1970s, The Limeliters embarked on a series of yearly reunion tours with Glenn Yarbrough. These were so successful that, in 1981, Lou and Alex decided to get back into the mainstream of entertainment. It was then they introduced an outstanding new tenor, Red Grammer, and another come-back began.

After a brief stint reviewing concerts for the San Francisco Chronicle, Gottlieb moved to Morning Star Ranch, his 30-acre (120,000 m2) ranch in Sonoma County, in 1966. Folk singer Malvina Reynolds and her husband Bud had alerted him to the property. Many people will remember fondly "The Digger Farm," as it came to be called, and the impact Lou had as the "resident piano player," as he referred to himself. Gottlieb attempted to leave the land he owned to God. A series of court appeals culminated in the 9th district court ruling that he could not. The ruling centered around the fact that if God was named owner on a quit claim deed, there would be no recourse for the collection of property taxes. The finding, therefore, was that God has no property rights in the state of California.

Movie roles[edit]

Gottlieb performed in the 1968 movie I Love You, Alice B. Toklas with Peter Sellers, and in Blume in Love with George Segal in 1973. He grew up in La Crescenta, completed his B.A. at UCLA, performed as jazz pianist, then sang with the Gateway Singers, whom he left to take a Ph.D. in music at U.C. Berkeley in 1958.

World Folk Music Association Lifetime Achievement Award[edit]

In 1995, Gottlieb received the World Folk Music Association Lifetime Achievement Award.


Gottlieb died after a short illness on July 11, 1996 in Sebastopol, California, at the age of 72.[2]


  1. ^ Potocki, P. Joseph (30 April 2008). "God's Commune". Bohemian. 
  2. ^ "Lou Gottlieb, 72, the Bass Player For 1960's Folk Trio Limeliters". New York Times. July 14, 1996. Retrieved 11 October 2010. 

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