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John Hartford

October 17, 1972 OH490 72 min.


Country music performer. Born December 30, 1937. Died June 4, 2001. Real name: John Cowan Harford. Career most active 1960s-1990s. Singer, songwriter, banjoist, television performer, and recording artist. Specialized in tradition-derived material and often combined singing, banjo playing, and dancing. His songwriting credits include the 1967 Grammy Award winning “Gentle On My Mind.” Known for his expertise as a riverboat pilot and for his vast knowledge of river lore. Author of the children’s book Steamboat in a Cornfield (New York: Crown, 1986).

Interview Summary

1972 October 17
(1 hour, 12 minutes)
Musician and songwriter John Hartford talks about his varied interests and his decision to pursue a music career. Discussion includes early interest in riverboats; his first interest in music and early musical influences; his developments as a musician and his interest in bluegrass; his interest in steamboats; the early years of his music career; his songwriting, including “Gentle On My Mind”; and the influence of bluegrass on his music.

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