Eric in his backyard, early nineties; courtesy of John Kruth


Brief Biography:
Eric von Schmidt was an influential folk-blues guitarist on the Cambridge, Massachusetts folk music scene in the late fifties and the sixties. Eric was born May 28, 1931, the son of Harold von Schmidt, who illustrated western stories for the Saturday Evening Post. Eric grew up in Westport, Connecticut and planned to follow in his father's footsteps as an artist at an early age. While he was in high school he first heard Ledbelly on the radio and was transformed by the experience. He bought a guitar, learned Ledbelly's songs, and also absorbed the influence of Woody Guthrie, Burl Ives, Josh White, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGee, Richard Dyer-Bennet, and John Jacob Niles. Eric's travels in New York city, Mississippi, the Caribbean, and the Library of Congress in Washington contributed to his musical education. He spent time in the army from 1952 to 1954, and in 1955 he won a Fulbright scholarship to spend a year painting in Italy. He taught at Sarasota School of Art in Florida for a while, then in the summer of 1957 he moved to Cambridge and discovered the bubbling folk music scene. His first solo album was The Folk Blues of Eric von Schmidt in 1963. He painted dozens of album covers for Joan Baez, Odetta, John Renbourn, and many other folk musicians. In June, 2000, he was presented with the the ASCAP Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award. He died February 2, 2007, at the age of 75.

For more information on Eric von Schmidt, see the following sources:

Fariņa/von Schmidt Collaborations:
Dick Fariņa & Eric von Schmidt
1963
Folklore F-LEUT/7
Dick and Eric with Ethan Signer and occasionally Bob Dylan.
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The Young Man Who Wouldn't Hoe Corn
Film
1963

Richard played dulcimer and recorder on the soundtrack of Eric's short film based on his book of the same title.
Eric Sings von Schmidt
1964
Prestige 7384

Liner notes by Richard Fariņa. He wrote a short poem to accompany each of the songs on this album.
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Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up To Me
By Richard Fariņa.
New York: Random House, 1966

Eric provided the cover illustration for Fariņa's novel. The original plan, as conceived by the inventive Fariņa, was to create an illustrated novel wherein the illustrations would reveal scenes that were not narrated in the text. Random House rejected this plan because it would have been too expensive, but they did recruit Eric for the cover art.
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Long Time Coming and a Long Time Gone
By Richard Fariņa.
New York: Random House, 1969

After Richard's death Eric also provided the cover art for the posthumous collection of Fariņa's writings.
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Who Knocked the Brains Out of the Sky?
1969
Smash/Mercury SRS 67124

Eric wrote a song about Richard called "Catch It," which appeared on this album.
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Baby, Let Me Follow You Down: The Illustrated Story of the Cambridge Folk Years
By Eric von Schmidt and Jim Rooney.
Garden City, New York: Anchor Press, 1979.
(2nd edition Amherst: University of Massachusetts, 1994.)

This book recounts Eric's friendship with Richard and includes many other stories about Richard and Mimi told by people who knew them.
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Positively 4th Street: The Lives and Times of Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Mimi Baez Fariņa and Richard Fariņa
By David Hajdu.
New York: Farrar, Giroux & Strauss, 2001.

Once again Eric provided the jacket illustration, which depicts Richard and Mimi on the back cover, taking second billing to Joan and Bob. Eric also provided Hajdu with much information for the book.
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