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great crabby artists

08 Dec 09 - 06:02 PM (#2784125)
Subject: Folklore: great crabby artists
From: GUEST,seth in Olympia

I'm thinking about a list of great artists, particularly performing musicians, with huge warts on their personalities, that they didn't choose to hide, on or off stage. Got one?

08 Dec 09 - 06:14 PM (#2784138)
Subject: RE: Folklore: great crabby artists
From: John MacKenzie

Do chips on the shoulder count too?

08 Dec 09 - 06:53 PM (#2784170)
Subject: RE: great crabby artists
From: Bill D

I know a couple, but I'd rather say nice things.

08 Dec 09 - 07:11 PM (#2784186)
Subject: RE: great crabby artists

Not me. I'm keeping my mouth shut...TIGHT

08 Dec 09 - 07:29 PM (#2784199)
Subject: RE: great crabby artists
From: GUEST,David E.

Sorry, my bad... I was going to say that in my limited experience I have met more crabby artists who believe they are great than actually great artists who are crabby. I can think of more really talented artists who seem pretty humble (Bert Jansch for example) than jerks...but maybe I have enough sense to keep my space?)

David E.

08 Dec 09 - 09:54 PM (#2784272)
Subject: RE: great crabby artists
From: GUEST,stroknvettn

Uhhhhhhh...huh-huh-huh... huh-huh...

That dude from TX, ya know the one with the 10-gal hat that was in the cartoon with Mr.Peabody? Heck, I even think the cartoon character had a more correctly tailored suit, lmao...

Normally I wouldn't touch this one either, but (give him credit for having a phone-call or some other drama I wasn't aware of...) I saw him stalk to his bus and close the door in the faces of a sizeable crowd of fans who seemed really disappointed that he didn't reappear after a "reasonable" passing of time...

Everyone else has been pretty darned good(I have no other musician-nemises types in my life, in fact I remain good friends with a cat who did 30min in a parking lot with me, neither of us won, and we were back on stage in time for the second set. Daubing hints of crimson from our brows and chins while the lil' girl cop wanted to know who was REALLY scrappin'... This did NOT occur at a bluegrass festival!!!), when you consider that there are times when you(or they) just DON'T feel like interacting, but, hey! You love your wife but she doesn't cotton to being slighted... Even when you don't have it in you to address her concerns, you do it anyway, be gracious, ya know- all "that" kinda yak...?

Fans and wives aren't so dissimilar... And this post is solely intended to be amusing...


08 Dec 09 - 10:19 PM (#2784293)
Subject: RE: great crabby artists
From: MGM·Lion

Not a folkie, or even a musician; but novelist Evelyn Waugh a v notable example: e.g. invited by mutual acqutce to meet admiring American visitors, the female one of whom started telling him how much she admired Brideshead, he replied, 'Yes, I have always thought well of it; but now I know a stupid, ignorant American woman admires it perhaps it is not as good as I thought after all'; & then proceeded nonchalantly to eat his dinner as if unaware of extent to which he must have ruined entire occasion!

08 Dec 09 - 10:58 PM (#2784310)
Subject: RE: great crabby artists

So, sorry MtGM...that is why they make anti-acid-tabs....or for a wound to the belly the ol' GI fix - bicarbonate-of-soda.

Obviously, there was a solid recovery.

09 Dec 09 - 12:52 AM (#2784386)
Subject: RE: great crabby artists
From: GUEST,Seth from Olympia

I must say that when I met Van Morrison, I was not taken in by his charm, though I've always liked his music.

09 Dec 09 - 05:37 AM (#2784472)
Subject: RE: great crabby artists
From: Leadfingers

Very few 'Folk' performers seem to fit the 'Crabby' tag , though a LOT of other genres seem to have more than their share .

09 Dec 09 - 05:42 AM (#2784477)
Subject: RE: great crabby artists
From: MGM·Lion

Leadfingers: The late Martin Winsor, who was a fine singer [hear his superb track in The Transports] was a big man with a notoriously uncontrollable hairtrigger temper, which led [I don't think speaking ill to record the fact] to more than one conviction for GBH. I should call this even a bit beyond 'crabby' myself.

09 Dec 09 - 07:30 AM (#2784512)
Subject: RE: great crabby artists
From: kendall

Jasha Hiefitz

09 Dec 09 - 07:39 AM (#2784516)
Subject: RE: great crabby artists
From: The Sandman

Dick Miles.

09 Dec 09 - 07:57 AM (#2784523)
Subject: RE: great crabby artists
From: kendall

Hank Snow

09 Dec 09 - 08:21 AM (#2784533)
Subject: RE: great crabby artists
From: MGM·Lion

How about Kerry Crabbe?

09 Dec 09 - 08:26 AM (#2784535)
Subject: RE: great crabby artists
From: Nick

Does this include artists who are self centred and shellfish?

09 Dec 09 - 08:30 AM (#2784539)
Subject: RE: great crabby artists
From: MGM·Lion

... crust[acea]y, rather?

09 Dec 09 - 09:37 AM (#2784577)
Subject: RE: great crabby artists
From: beeliner

There's a VERY well-known country singer, whose name I won't mention, who is said to be such a kvetch that his friends call him 'picky Ricky', and his non-friends call him something similar, but with another letter added.

09 Dec 09 - 01:44 PM (#2784760)
Subject: RE: great crabby artists
From: VirginiaTam

It's not the first time I have heard Van Morrison's personality errr... leaves something to be desired.

What is his problem?

09 Dec 09 - 02:09 PM (#2784776)
Subject: RE: great crabby artists
From: beeliner

At the other end of the spectrum (maybe this should be a separate thread), Barbara Cook and the late Yehudi Menuhin.

I had the privilege of being an audio engineer for both.

What a sweetiepie and what a gentleman!

09 Dec 09 - 02:29 PM (#2784785)
Subject: RE: great crabby artists
From: M.Ted

Beeliner--That's not the same noted country singer who tells everyone about what a great Christian he is after each and every song? Someone, perhaps his booking agent, once said that, "If he didn't tell you, you wouldn't know it."

09 Dec 09 - 06:47 PM (#2784969)
Subject: RE: great crabby artists
From: olddude

I don't know I heard townes van zandt was pretty nasty at times. But if you want to ask me about certain NFL players ... it would take me a 1000 years !

09 Dec 09 - 07:55 PM (#2785012)
Subject: RE: great crabby artists
From: Bobert

John Fahey was the most anti-social, non-social musican I ever met... And half drunk most of the time, to boot...

09 Dec 09 - 08:38 PM (#2785045)
Subject: RE: great crabby artists
From: Art Thieme

Fahey, at their outside festival at Chelsea House in Brattleboro, VT, walked out on stage after being nicely introduced, fidgeted with the mikes for 10 minutes, stared out at the audience for ten minutes more. The audience never made a peep throughout. Then, he literally screamed into the mike------"Shut the fuck up!!!" --I was simply amazed and haven't listened to him since.


10 Dec 09 - 03:42 PM (#2785601)
Subject: RE: great crabby artists
From: GUEST,Elmore

I always thought Fahey was overrated. I've encountered a couple of performers who were pretty fussy about their sound check, but I sort of appreciated their professionalism.

10 Dec 09 - 05:55 PM (#2785715)
Subject: RE: great crabby artists
From: Dave Roberts

In an episode of the immortal 'Fawlty Towers', Sybil Fawlty says to her
harrassed husband Basil, 'There is NO excuse for rudeness'.

And there isn't.

10 Dec 09 - 06:35 PM (#2785737)
Subject: RE: great crabby artists
From: GUEST,David E.

I would have considered being married to Sybil a fair excuse.

David E.

10 Dec 09 - 06:42 PM (#2785743)
Subject: RE: great crabby artists
From: Rafflesbear

On the basis of a single concert - Joan Baez - would never go again

10 Dec 09 - 07:42 PM (#2785779)
Subject: RE: great crabby artists
From: dick greenhaus

Well, they uised to call Peter Bellamy "the surly Yorkshireman"

10 Dec 09 - 09:07 PM (#2785834)
Subject: RE: great crabby artists
From: GUEST,Ballyholme

MGM, Great story about Martin Windsor. I bet nobody talked when he was singing!

Van Morrison's less than cheery demeanor is well chronicled (as several biographies will testify to.

Having worked for a number of years organizing folk events for a major arts festival I have to say that folk musicians, in the main, are a pretty nice bunch - although a certain Irish fiddler came across as a bear with a sore ares.

10 Dec 09 - 10:38 PM (#2785866)
Subject: RE: great crabby artists
From: MGM·Lion

Who used to call Peter Bellamy 'the surly Yorkshireman', Dick? & why? He only lived in Yorkshire the last 4 or 5 years of his life; he was Norfolk thru & thru. & he wasn't so much surly as occasionally given to a sort of 'flyting' with audience which some would take amiss. A typical sort of thing he would say: I once told him I had left him my instruments in my will. "Hurry up and die them,' was his response, 'you have got a D-major concertina haven't you?' I knew him & didn't take it amiss - but some might have done. Instead I lent it to him on long loan to take to gigs & make records and it was on his coffin at his funeral. I have it back now BTW.

11 Dec 09 - 10:18 PM (#2786598)
Subject: RE: great crabby artists
From: Rowan

In Oz, Peter Bellamy was charm itself.

Cheers, Rowan

11 Dec 09 - 11:04 PM (#2786626)
Subject: RE: great crabby artists
From: Amergin

I've met alot of musicians at various shows....punk, folk, and I have only come across one asshole...and he was some english punk singer who spat on the audience....I remember one guy stormed the stage and proceeded to beat the shit out of him....while the band played on.

11 Dec 09 - 11:15 PM (#2786632)
Subject: RE: great crabby artists
From: MGM·Lion

The same happened in Ireland to that unfunny little 'alternative' comedian {alternative to what, I often wonder? - if it means being alternative to being in any way comic I'll drink to that}, Jerry Sadowicz, whose shtick is being as crabby as he can with his audience. He tried taking the piss out of the Irish at a gig in Ireland a while back, & a man just mounted the stage & without a word gave him the thrashing he deserved.

11 Dec 09 - 11:52 PM (#2786646)
Subject: RE: great crabby artists
From: Art Thieme

Mr. Bellamy's style of singing was, to say the least, intense. Quite high energy I always thought. At a good small festival near Chicago, I finished my set and Peter sought me out. Outright he told me, "That was absolutely the most laid back set I have ever seen." --- Then he spun on his heel -- and walked away.

To this day I do not know if his comment was a positive one or not. But it did stay with me!

Art Thieme

12 Dec 09 - 12:50 AM (#2786668)
Subject: RE: great crabby artists
From: GUEST,DonMeixner

My experience with musicians was thunderously awful but these guys are revered by most everybody in the forum so I won't mention their names.
Every one can have a down day.


12 Dec 09 - 04:46 AM (#2786731)
Subject: RE: great crabby artists
From: Mick Woods

Van Morrison and Bob Dylan both treat their audience AND backing musicians with contempt,

12 Dec 09 - 09:01 AM (#2786833)
Subject: RE: great crabby artists
From: GUEST,bankley

Jerry Lee Lewis , depending on the refreshments
Stephen Stills...    "       " "         "
Ian Tyson at times, "       " "         "

that country singer who had sex with another man, then did a 'I have sinned' confession in his church... and is not related to Boz Scaggs

( not enough refreshments )

12 Dec 09 - 09:40 AM (#2786844)
Subject: RE: great crabby artists
From: JedMarum

Big Mick Lane!

12 Dec 09 - 09:44 AM (#2786848)
Subject: RE: great crabby artists
From: JedMarum

OK, I was just kidding about Mick.

But in real life I did a festival in Lake Charles LA with Andy M Stewart. Andy had been pissed off all weekend that the festival organizers forgot to pick him up at the airport. So he told every audience the story of being forgotten and did NOT hide his great displeasure.

It was off because he genuinely angry about it, but he got a good laugh out of the audience over it. He was crabby the whole time - but funny!

12 Dec 09 - 10:17 AM (#2786868)
Subject: RE: great crabby artists
From: frogprince

I keep waiting, as in "waiting for the other shoe to drop", for Peace to drop in here with an autobiographical anecdote.

12 Dec 09 - 11:43 AM (#2786913)
Subject: RE: great crabby artists

why, kenall morse of course!!!

12 Dec 09 - 03:55 PM (#2787053)
Subject: RE: great crabby artists
From: GUEST,Seth from Olympia

I met Townes VZ after one his few road shows in Seattle ( a great show with Guy Clark)He had just done his show, he owed me absolutely nothing
he could not have been more gracious.
Clifton Chenier, may he rest in peace, is not a person who I could say that about

12 Dec 09 - 03:59 PM (#2787058)
Subject: RE: great crabby artists
From: GUEST,Jed Marum

Here's onne of my favorite Kendall Morse stories, speaking of crabby ...

We were at the FSGW Getaway a few years back, and much whiskey had been consumed very very late into the night, especially liquid, that night was Kendall and Max.

Next day, early, Max was nowhere to be seen but here was Kendall was sitting outdoors on a lovely day, about to start conducting a workshop, at 11AM with a couple dozen fine folks around him. As I walked by with Rick Fielding on our way to our own workshop I shouted out, "Kendall, you look like you're feeling better this morning!"

Without batting an eye Kendall shouted back, "Better?? I'd have to get better just to die!"

... crabby, but funny!

12 Dec 09 - 06:08 PM (#2787138)
Subject: RE: great crabby artists
From: dick greenhaus

MtheGM -
The reference to Bellamy as Yorkshireman was, apparently a paraphrase of
ERic Knight's book "The Flying Yorkshireman" (good book, btw). The surly was a consequence of his demeanor at several US functions.
No quibbles about his artistry.

12 Dec 09 - 06:59 PM (#2787158)
Subject: RE: great crabby artists
From: MGM·Lion

Thanks, Dick - I was puzzled. But definitely a misnomer that needs its hash settled — Pete was no Yorkshireman in any sense whatever; even when he lived those last few years in Keighley, it was only as an incomer from outside, never as a real Yorkshireman. I remember during the war when American servicemen were stationed in England & the Southerners among them hated being called Yankees. Pete would have felt the same about being described as a Yorkshireman. Don't forget his first solo LP, while still with Young Tradition, was called MAINLY NORFOLK!!

13 Dec 09 - 03:27 AM (#2787272)
Subject: RE: great crabby artists
From: Gweltas

I would counter your opinion of Joan Baez with my own experience of her in concert ! Perhaps she was having an "off-night" when you saw her ? Very few performers can be in top form ALL of the time ! They are human, just like you and me, and who knows what hidden troubles they may be carrying on their shoulders at any given time. I would hesitate to condemn ANYONE on the basis of just ONE unsatisfactory experience.

13 Dec 09 - 12:44 PM (#2787460)
Subject: RE: great crabby artists
From: MGM·Lion

Ewan MacCoill could be one of the most contentious people on the folk scene, He notoriously came to blows in folk clubs with Dominic Beahan & Hamish Henderson [I actually witnessed the first]. For an account of some gross unfairness and unnecessary & unjustified quarreling on his part with a friend of mine, see my post on the thread 'What did you do in the War, Ewan?' 30 Aug 09 12.37AM. I have refreshed the thread.

13 Dec 09 - 01:38 PM (#2787478)
Subject: RE: great crabby artists
From: Jack Campin

The folk scene's paradigms of grumpiness are all fairly small potatoes compared with Charles Mingus pulling a gun on one of his bandmates during a show or Giacinto Scelsi threatening to have anyone who took his photo killed.

13 Dec 09 - 05:48 PM (#2787641)
Subject: RE: great crabby artists
From: Ref

I'd think it would be hard for a folkie to AFFORD to be genuinely crabby. I've heard that Jeff Muldaur is a surly prick in his old age. Surprised to see the comment about Joan Baez. It's clear she doesn't suffer fools much, but I've always seen her as very kind and supportive of other musicians and her back-ups. She's had a running battle with judy Collins since the sixties, but the root of it was Collins' self-centeredness. I've seen Gordon Bok get a little surly, but he was provoked.

13 Dec 09 - 07:54 PM (#2787699)
Subject: RE: great crabby artists
From: Joe_F

Auden, in a review of a biography of Wagner, says:

"...It is sad, but a fact, that while the lives of decent folk usually make dull reading, the lives of bad hats are nearly always interesting, and Wagner, in spite of being one of the greatest musical geniuses who ever lived, was a very bad hat indeed.

    "In financial matters,... he was a... crook:....

    "Socially, he was a spoiled brat:....

    "...It was precisely about those composers from whom he had learned most that Wagner was nastiest....

    "In his sexual life, he indulged in one affair after another... but... in opera after opera, extolled the virtues of renunciation and charity....

    "Such weaknesses... make amusing reading, but there is nothing funny about Wagner's hatred of the French and the Jews. He was furious at Bismarck for not razing Paris to the ground.... Most nineteenth-century anti-Semites would have been genuinely horrified by Auschwitz, but one has the uncomfortable suspicion that Wagner would have wholeheartedly approved...."

This last is followed by a quotation that could have come straight out of _Mein Kampf_.

14 Dec 09 - 03:24 AM (#2787830)
Subject: RE: great crabby artists
From: Cluin

I recall seeing an interview with composer Steve Reich who compared Wagner with one of his contemporary composers, someone whom I'd never heard of, nor can recall the name of now. The upshot was that this other composer had as charitable and philanthropic and humanistic reputation as Wagner's was as an anti-Semite and a miserable prick. How is it to be reconciled that Wagner's music was so inspired while the other fellow's was mediocre and forgettable?

"As to aesthetics and morals I believe they are essentially not connected - though we dearly, naively, would like them to be. We have only to think of Wagner, a Nazi and simultaneously a musical genius.

14 Dec 09 - 05:04 AM (#2787869)
Subject: RE: great crabby artists
From: Acorn4

I've heard reports that Ralph McTell has been known to throw his toys out of the cot on occasions, though I've never actually seen this.

Sometimes artists can be crabby with very good reason and this put me in mind of a Dougie McLean story. He was doing a gig in the seventies in Leicester and this was in the days of vinyl. During the interval when he was selling his merchandise, a drunken bum spilled a pint on the box of albums, at which DM was, quite understandably, not very pleased.

I only mention the story because, about 15 years later, that drunken bum became Lord Mayor of Leicester. If I ever bump into DM at a festival, I'm sure he'd take some comfort in knowing that.

14 Dec 09 - 10:04 AM (#2788030)
Subject: RE: great crabby artists
From: GUEST,seth in Olympia

Miles Davis, the standard from which all other crabby musicians are measured, though I never saw him in performance or a club. So it's all hear say for me, but there sure are a lot of anecdotes about his attitude, even mentioned in the Eddie Jefferson lyrics to " So What"
I guess he only got irate when some stranger told him how much they liked his music

14 Dec 09 - 03:39 PM (#2788284)
Subject: RE: great crabby artists
From: GUEST,TJ in San Diego

I've enjoyed self-effacing musicians such as Sam Hinton in folk and Charlie Byrd in jazz. I've also seen arrogance and volcanic tempers from several folks who shall remain nameless, triggered by on-stage glitches in some cases and pure cantankerousness in others.

However, "I hear tell" is not evidence. I generally wait until I am personally insulted before passing judgement. Truth to say, I have seen more "attitude" from rockers than from folkies or jazz performers.

I almost think some individuals' musical talent, in the extreme, is a bit like the talent of a savant. It develops with few distractions and with total focus. Social skills do not always accompany it.

15 Dec 09 - 09:06 AM (#2788769)
Subject: RE: great crabby artists

As far as Ralph McTell is concerned, and as a fan for many many years (and who's got to know lots of other fans), I've never heard of an incident at a gig where he's lost his temper, at least not recently! I know that it happened more than once during the tour after Streets of London became a hit,(mid 70's) but he was later diagnosed with depression, and said to be on the verge of a complete nervous breakdown at the time! I've heard that he is fussy about some things, however - a few years ago apparently he lost his temper with a theatre manager who said that it didn't matter that the wheelchair access to the auditorium was blocked with rubble - something that it's worth loosing your temper over, I reckon!
Have to say, he's always polite and patient with his fans, though, and frequently makes a point of thanking his tour manager/sound engineer during shows - and apologising to him if he over-runs!

(Is 'crabbiness' the same thing as 'fussiness' or perfectionism when it comes to giving a performance? Though I'd hope any performer that I pay to see is at least a litle fussy about getting things right, I imagine that perfectionism could easily become crabbiness!)

15 Dec 09 - 01:58 PM (#2788964)
Subject: RE: great crabby artists
From: GUEST,Joseph de Culver City

Two musicians come to mind--

Howlin' Wolf--saw him play more than a few times, he seemed resentful of the audience most of the time, but he sure gave a great performance. Twice I saw him play with Willie Dixon on bass, Willie was one of the warmest performers I have ever experienced.

Leo Kottke--Outright rude to many audience members, though some of the audience members may have exacerbated the situation. He is, without a doubt, a perfectionist within his own standard , and a fine guitarist.

BTW, John Fahey overrated? Hmmm...Not in my book.

04 Dec 19 - 10:40 AM (#4022227)
Subject: RE: great crabby artists
From: GUEST,keberoxu

I saw Joni Mitchell live at the Blossom Music Festival center in Kent, Ohio.

I could say she was provoked;
a sopranino-voiced fan in the audience
punctuated the breaks between songs -- many breaks --
with a shrieking request for "Californiaaa!"

"Somebody help her," Mitchell chuckled at one point.
But the shrieks continued, until
Mitchell stopped cold and declared that it pissed her off.

The audience seemed genuinely startled -- I recall gasps and whispers.
And the people in whose company I attended
made more of Mitchell's criticism than
they made of the squeaky shrieky fan.

Oh, and the fan DID shut up after that.

04 Dec 19 - 11:41 AM (#4022230)
Subject: RE: great crabby artists
From: GUEST,HiLo

I am a big fan of Neil Young but he can be a surly bugger. Saw him in concert once, at the end of the last song he flung down the Guitar and stomped off goodnight or thanks for coming and an encore was out of the question. Great concert though.

04 Dec 19 - 12:20 PM (#4022242)
Subject: RE: great crabby artists
From: punkfolkrocker

Why should artists tolerate extremely annoying arseholes in an audience..
Why should audiences have to tolerate them either...

[question marks intentionally omitted...]

04 Dec 19 - 01:12 PM (#4022248)
Subject: RE: great crabby artists
From: BrooklynJay

Oscar Brand. Tales of his irascibility abound. It's no secret that the character of Oscar the Grouch on Sesame Street was at least partly inspired by him.

Here's a story told to me by the person it happened to:

I had a friend named Jeff Segall who encountered Mr. Brand many years ago when he was a Junior High School student. Jeff was an aspiring folk musician and when he tried to talk to Brand before the performance, he was firmly rebuffed and told, "I work alone!"

Several years later, when Jeff was in college, Oscar Brand performed in concert and when Jeff saw him and asked if he remembered him, Brand shot back angrily, "Yeah - you're the kid who tried to steal my act!"

Oscar the Grouch, indeed...


06 Dec 19 - 12:15 AM (#4022397)
Subject: RE: great crabby artists
From: CupOfTea

When I was in Grad school in Dekalb IL, working on the coffeehouse ("New Prairie Cafe") committee, one of the folks I was most interested in seeing was brilliant & distinctive harmonica player Howard Levy. Though I knew him originally from Trapezoid's recordings, he also had a jazz combo, years before the Flecktones. NIU was keen on jazz in the music department, so booking his Jazz (think it was a quartet) was a no-brainer. Come the night, prolly 7 people showed up, including the committee. He was seriously pissed off, and tersely took us to task for the lack of audience - BACKSTAGE. Great show, and nobody would have been the wiser about his crabbyness out front.

Joanne in Siberia on the Lake

06 Dec 19 - 09:03 PM (#4022561)
Subject: RE: great crabby artists
From: GUEST,Jerome Clark

Scanning this entertaining thread, I note a couple of names -- Leo Kottke and Townes Van Zandt -- whom I encountered separately and long ago at gigs in Chicago. They both struck me as approachable and friendly, devoid of attitude. When I knew him in his early days before he was famous outside the local folk scene, Steve Goodman was, er, a good man.

On the other hand, you might look up Andrew Calhoun's "Going Down to See John Prine" and pray that nobody ever writes a song like that about you.

06 Dec 19 - 09:55 PM (#4022564)
Subject: RE: great crabby artists
From: meself

Goin' Down to See John Prine

06 Dec 19 - 11:13 PM (#4022571)
Subject: RE: great crabby artists
From: keberoxu

Andrew Calhoun's lyrics.

Andrew Calhoun's website.