Tom Rapp

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Tom Rapp
Birth name Thomas Dale Rapp
Born (1947-03-08) March 8, 1947 (age 69)
Bottineau, North Dakota
Occupation(s) Singer, songwriter, attorney
Instruments Vocals, guitar, etc.
Years active 1965–1976
occasionally since 1997
Labels ESP-Disk, Reprise
Associated acts Pearls Before Swine

Thomas Dale "Tom" Rapp (born 8 March 1947, Bottineau, North Dakota) is an American singer and songwriter, best known as the leader of Pearls Before Swine, the psychedelic folk rock group of the 1960s and 1970s. More recently he has practiced as a lawyer.


Tom Rapp's parents were both teachers. As a young child his family moved to Minnesota, where at the age of six he was given a guitar. A neighbour taught Rapp some chords, and he also learned to play the ukulele. He once came third in a talent contest in Rochester where a certain Bobby Zimmerman from Hibbing was fifth. "The winner was a cute little girl in a red sequined costume who twirled a baton."

The Rapp family moved from Minnesota to Pennsylvania before settling in Melbourne, Florida in 1963. There, Tom Rapp formed Pearls Before Swine with three high school friends in 1965. They recorded first for the ESP-Disk label, and then for Reprise. Rapp said that "We never got any money from ESP. Never, not even like a hundred dollars or something. My real sense is that he (Bernard Stollman) was abducted by aliens, and when he was probed it erased his memory of where all the money was". [1]

For more details on this topic, see Pearls Before Swine (band).

By the time of the third Pearls Before Swine album in 1969, the other original members of the group had left, but Rapp retained the group name for recordings. At this time, Pearls Before Swine did not exist as a performing band. The next three Pearls Before Swine albums, The Use of Ashes (1970), City of Gold (1971), and Beautiful Lies You Could Live In (1971), contain some of Rapp's best songs, and were recorded with his Dutch wife Elisabeth and top session musicians in Nashville and New York City. The album Familiar Songs (1972) was his first credited solo album, but was in fact a collection of demo recordings released by the record company without his knowledge. After moving from Reprise to Blue Thumb Records, he released two further albums under his own name, Stardancer (1972) and Sunforest (1973). Although these were issued as solo albums, they included recordings by a new version of Pearls Before Swine which did tour and perform widely, as well as containing solo recordings with session musicians.

Rapp retired from music in the mid-1970s and, after graduating from Brandeis University in 1981 and the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 1984, became a successful civil rights lawyer. After being contacted by the magazine Ptolemaic Terrascope, he re-appeared in 1997 at Terrastock, a music festival in Providence, Rhode Island, with his son's band, Shy Camp, and began recording again with 1999's A Journal of the Plague Year. He also performed at Terrastock 5 in October 2002 [2] and Terrastock 6 in April 2006.[3] He currently lives in Florida.

On August 26 and 27, 2008, WBBH-TV News and The Florida Bar website reported that Rapp and another attorney sued in Federal court to reverse their termination as county government lawyers.[4] Thus, at 61, he became an age-discrimination client as well as a civil rights attorney.


Solo albums[edit]


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