Eric Von Schmidt - Musician and Artist


Eric discovered Leadbelly and picked up the guitar while in high school in Westport Connecticut. He later followed the ballardiers around the country, absorbing from Woody Guthrie, Burl Ives, Josh White, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGee, Richard Dyer-Bennet, and John Jacob Niles. After some time in the army and a year painting in Italy on a Fulbright scholarship, he took a teaching job at Sarasota School of Art. In the summer of 1957 he moved to Cambridge and delved into the folk music scene as it was unfolding. in 1963 his first album "The Folk Blues of Eric von Schmidt", was released. Many of the famous folk artists had hits written by Eric, most notably Tom Rush and Bob Dylan:

Some well-known references to Eric's work and his influence on Bob Dylan:

Dylan raps at the start of "Baby Let Me Follow You Down" - "I first heard this from Eric von Schmidt. He lives in Cambridge. Eric is a blues guitar player. I met him one day on The green pastures of the Harvard University."

He wrote in the liner notes to 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.”

- from Wesley Smith on

Artist Extraordinaire

Eric produced cover art and posters for many of his friends and colleagues who met and played around in and around Cambridge Massachusettes in the late1950's and 60's, including, Joan Baez, Odetta, Geoff and Maria Muldaur, Blue Velvet Band, Jackie Washington, and John Renbourn. The son of a successful illustrator, Eric studied art from an early age. He never stopped painting.


Eric wrote "Baby Let me Follow you Down" with Jim Rooney in 1979. The book documents the history of the players in the folk movement that launched the careers of the stars that emerged from the Boston area and started the peace movement that ignited a generation to demand changes that resulted in an end to the Viet Nam War, segregation, and unjust labor practices. Link to much of Eric's work:

Personal History

The stories of Eric's life and friendships are legendary. They will be in the book. Meanwhile... here are some more links: