Mark Spoelstra

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Mark Spoelstra
Birth nameMark Warren Spoelstra
Born(1940-06-30)June 30, 1940
Kansas City, Missouri, United States
DiedFebruary 25, 2007(2007-02-25) (aged 66)
Pioneer, California, United States
GenresFolk, blues
Occupation(s)Singer-songwriter, guitarist
LabelsElektra, Columbia Records

Mark Warren Spoelstra (June 30, 1940 – February 25, 2007) was an American singer-songwriter and folk and blues guitarist. Known at one time as one of the best 12-String players in the country. His music tours took him to Europe and South America, and across the US.

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 became friends with many of the unknown soon to be famous performers of his time. He often performed with others including 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.

Spoelstra was raised as a Quaker. His career was put on hold from 1963 to 1965, when he performed alternative service as a conscientious objector in Fresno, California. Bob told him the timing of his alternate service really hurt his career and that he may have missed his chance. Mark was committed to not running away from his obligations and made the sacrifice to serve his country. In the mid-1960s, he frequently performed at the Ash Grove in West Hollywood. It was here that he wrote most of his best songs, including an album of country songs used as the sound-track for the movie Electra Glide in Blue.

In 1969, while living in Sonoma County, California, he formed the Frontier Constabulary with Mitch Greenhill and Mayne Smith. After Spoelstra left to resume his solo career in 1970, the band continued as the Frontier.

Spoelstra later settled In Stockton, CA, where he lived until moving into semi retirement in a little A frame cabin nestled in the trees, in Pioneer, CA. Withdrawing from the touring life to raise a family, Spoelstra and his wife Sheri embraced Christianity. In the mid-1970s he 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.

Often Retiring and always returning to music he worked for a number of years to support his family and to get by and in some ways to recharge his creative interests. Touring and promoting was required to earn an income in music and to him it was incredibly difficult to overcome performance anxiety and the subsequent migraines that would often follow. Working as a bus driver in Yosemite National Park was one of his most inspiring and calming periods, Spoelstra grew closer to the depth of his thoughts and music in Yosemite. He grew closer to his meaning and path as a focus on love and expressing love through 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. His 12-String instrumentals are a stand out feature in this album. 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 but available on ITunes, have been reissued. Spoelstra died from complications of pancreatic cancer at his home surrounded by his family and loved ones in Pioneer, California on February 25, 2007.


Studio albums and live recordings[edit]

  • The Songs Of Mark Spoelstra with Twelve-String Guitar (Folkways, 1963)
  • Mark Spoelstra recorded at Club 47 Inc. (Folkways, 1963)
  • Mark Spoelstra: five & twenty questions (Elektra, 1965)
  • State Of Mind (Elektra, 1966)
  • Mark Spoelstra (Columbia, 1969)
  • This House (Bellaphon, 1971)
  • Somehow I Always Knew (Aslan Records, 1977)
  • Comin' Back To Town (Inwood Records, 1979)
  • Out Of My Hands (Origin Jazz Library, 2001)

External links[edit]