Derroll Adams - Portland Town (live) (From the out of print Live album, 1976)
Derroll Adams - Oregon (buy) (1977)
Derroll Adams - Freight Train Blues (From the out of print Feelin' Fine album, 1972)
Derroll Adams was a very influential figure in the folk community in the sixties and seventies, but his recordings are scarce and hard to find. He's much more popular in europe than in his native country. A banjo player and singer, he led a unsteady life, marrying five times, changing jobs and homes (see his full biography). A left-wing sympathizer, he wrote anti-war songs like Portland Town, met Woody Guthrie and Rambling Jack Elliott in the fifties in California.
In 1957, he relocated to England, playing gigs and recording with Elliott in London.
Derroll stayed for good in Europe, marrying and settling in Brussels. He met Donovan in the mid-sixties in London and and became the subject of the younger singer's song, "Epistle to Derroll". He can be seen in Pennebaker's movie, Don't Look Back, introducing Dylan to Donovan.
Then his marriage broke again, and despite an album for Decca in 1967, his rebellious way of life, and serious bottle problems prevented him from pursuing a steady career.
In 1970, Derroll Adams married his fifth wife, and settled down in Antwerp, Belgium. He recorded several LPs (Check out his discography here), and gave countless gigs all over Europe until the late '80s. In 1990, folk musicians like Rambling Jack Elliott, Bert Jansch and Pentangle musicians came to Courtrai, Belgium, to celebrate Derroll's 65th birthday on stage.
In the 1990s, his health was failing and he turned to painting. He passed away in 2000 in Antwerp.
Belgian TV made what looks like a great documentary on Derroll. You can see three distinct videos on Youtube, including that one (I love what Arlo Guthries says about folk music at the end)
Did you know him ? And if you didn't, did you like what you've heard ? Please don't hesitate to give your comments, you've been quite silent, these days, but I know you come on a regular basis.