He was born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri. He began his musical career in Los Angeles in his teens and migrated around to wind up in New York City in time to take part in the folk music revival of the early 1960s. He is best remembered for his activity in the Greenwich Village area. He performed with Bob Dylan soon after Dylan's arrival in New York City, was a contributor to Broadside Magazine and recorded a number of albums for Folkways Records and other labels.
Raised as a Quaker, Spoelstra's career was put on hold from 1963–1965, when he performed alternative service as a conscientious objector in Fresno, California. In the mid-1960s, he frequently performed at the Ash Grove in West Hollywood. He later settled in Northern California, where he lived, primarily near Stockton, until his death. Withdrawing from the touring life to raise a family, Spoelstra and his wife Sherry embraced Christianity in 1969 and in the mid-1970s, became a minister and used his musical talents as a means to preach his spiritual messages. In the late 1970s, he recorded and released two albums of Gospel music, Somehow I Always Knew and Comin' Back To Town.
Retiring from music in the early 1980s, he worked for a number of years as a tour bus driver in Yosemite National Park. Throughout this period in his life, Spoelstra remained in touch with his music. In 2001, he recorded an album entitled, Out Of My Hands for the Origin Jazz Library label; the first record he'd made in 20 years. The album is a mix of new songs written for the album and some of his old favorites. In his later years he returned to the stage to perform on a limited scale. He would perform until the summer of 2006 when illness forced him to stop. Several of his albums recorded for Elektra Records, long out of print, have been recently reissued. An album of Gospel songs recorded prior to his death is planned for release, according to his website.
- Official website
- All Music.com biography
- Illustrated Mark Spoelstra discography
- Washington Post Obituary
- Origin Jazz Library
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