Happy Birthday Ramblin’ Jack



The message from Aiyanna Elliott was sketchy other than Jack was having a birthday. By August 1st I learned the date on Facebook. The folk music legend and two-time Grammy winner just turned 89.

In the fall of my freshman year at USC (1966) some friends and I went to see Jack at the Ashgrove, $2 cover and 2-drink minimum. It was a fantastic show, as close as I ever was to being home while going to school in L.A.

I ran into Jack again in 1989, my first invitation to the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko. We’ve been fast friends ever since. Beginning with traveling and playing with Woodie Guthrie to the present, he has been an inspirational influence on folk music. In 1998, President Bill Clinton awarded Jack the National Medal of the Arts, proclaiming, “In giving new life to our most valuable musical traditions, Ramblin’ Jack has himself become an American treasure.”

Though Jack has been to the ranch several times, the photo above was taken here in September 2008. Jack had a few gigs at some colleges inland from the Gulf of Mexico during hurricane season. He called to see if he could layover here at the ranch until either Gustav or Ike (I can’t remember which) made landfall, thus having four hours of driving time behind him. He stayed with Robbin and I for a few days while waiting to see which gigs would be canceled.

To one of the kindest souls we know, Robbin and I wish Ramblin’ Jack a belated Happy Birthday!


5 responses to “Happy Birthday Ramblin’ Jack

  1. Duff, I share your deep appreciation for Ramblin’ Jack, if not your much closer relationship. I think i wore out the tracks on my vinyl of ‘Young Brigham’ and can still recite ‘912 Greens’. I’ve seen Jack numerous times over the last 50+ years, always as a fan in the stands…very envious of your ‘up close and personal’ experiences!

    One time in Berkeley in the mid-70s, I took a date to see him at the Great American Music Hall in SF. I’d built him up something fierce and she was eager to hear him sing. Jack was being Jack; talking story. My date got frustrated and yelled at him to ‘get on with it!’…wanted to crawl under my seat.

    Saw him once at the Marin County Fair, maybe a dozen years ago. He was the opening act for Ziggy Marley…talk about a juxtaposition.of genres and followings. We sat under the huge marquee with a crowd of other senior citizens relishing Jack being Jack. Toward the end of his set, a steady stream of youngsters started drifting in – along with wafts of herb smoke – anticipating Ziggy. A gaggle of them sat near us and sotto voce asked: “Who’s the old fart?” We whispered: just listen…and they actually did…and clapped enthusiastically!

    Last time we saw Jack was a couple years ago at the Golden State Theatre in Monterey, opening for John Prine. Maybe the best night of music I’ve ever enjoyed.

    Happy Birthday, Ramblin’ Jack!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I don’t believe I’ve ever heard him perform, but if you like him, he’s alright in my book!! Happy Birthday, Jack!

    Liked by 1 person

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