Eric von Schmidt, 75; blues, folk artist influenced Dylan

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From the Associated Press

Guitarist and painter Eric von Schmidt, a player in the Northeast’s blues and folk scene in the 1950s and ‘60s who influenced Bob Dylan, has died. He was 75.

Von Schmidt died in his sleep Feb. 2 at a convalescent home in Fairfield, Conn., said his daughter, Caitlin von Schmidt. He had battled throat cancer and suffered a stroke last summer, she said.

For the record:

12:00 a.m. Feb. 14, 2007 For The Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday February 14, 2007 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 0 inches; 28 words Type of Material: Correction
Von Schmidt obituary: An obituary of guitarist and musician Eric von Schmidt that appeared in Monday’s California section misidentified blues guitarist Blind Boy Fuller as Blind Dog Fuller.

He and Dylan met in the early 1960s in Cambridge, Mass., where an emerging folk scene featured such performers as Joan Baez and Tom Rush. He told the Boston Globe in a 1996 interview that he played several songs for Dylan that day.


Dylan wrote the liner notes for Von Schmidt’s 1969 album, “Who Knocked the Brains Out of the Sky.”

“He could sing the bird off the wire and the rubber off the tire. He can separate the men from the boys and the note from the noise. The bridle from the saddle and the cow from the cattle. He can play the tune of the moon. The why of the sky and the commotion of the ocean,” Dylan wrote.

On his debut 1962 album, “Bob Dylan,” he says at the beginning of “Baby, Let Me Follow You Down,” that he first heard the song from Von Schmidt. The song was based on one recorded by Blind Dog Fuller.

A Connecticut native, Von Schmidt began playing the guitar when he was 17, inspired by hearing bluesman Leadbelly on the radio. He said he listened to many folk and blues recordings at the Library of Congress, where his father -- noted illustrator Harold von Schmidt -- dropped him off during trips to Washington.

He went to Italy in 1955 to study art on a Fulbright scholarship before moving to Cambridge. His first album, “The Folk Blues of Eric von Schmidt,” was released in 1963.

One of his better-known songs was “Joshua Gone Barbados,” which has been performed by several other artists. The ASCAP Foundation, which promotes music education, gave Von Schmidt its Lifetime Achievement Award in 2000.


He also painted album covers for Baez and other folk musicians.