sun 14/07/2024

Seasick Steve – A Myth Unravels | reviews, news & interviews

Seasick Steve – A Myth Unravels

Seasick Steve – A Myth Unravels

The author of the hobo-bluesman's new biography scrapes his chin from the floor

Three-string guitar – 'his gimmick'?

Life and art have generally had a troubled relationship. In the case of former hobo and punk-blues singer Seasick Steve, however, it all seemed so simple. When he sang "Dog House Boogie" on his extraordinary Hootenanny debut nearly a decade ago, it was his grit and authenticity, even more than his musical skills – though the two go hand-in-hand – that the audience fell in love with.

Read any fan forum and it’s clear that Steve is loved because most audiences believe he’s experienced exactly what he sings.

The official biography, documented repeatedly in the hundreds of press interviews Steve has given in the past decade, recalls a teenage escape from an abusive step-father, followed by a youth spent on the road, then a marriage and kids in the 1970s, and another marriage and more kids in the 1980s – all of which Steve supported with a succession of grimy, blue-collar jobs, which gave, he’s sometimes said, very little time for music. Whether this environment was likely to nurture a guitarist of Steve’s sublime skill and generic dexterity, clearly versed in both blues and rock, was never questioned, so colourful and romantic was the initial proposition.

Setting out to document this life, the immediate difficulty would, I imagined, be how to locate any objective verification for the life of a 1950s Mississippi hobo. I can categorically report that evidence for Steve’s existence on the post-war Delta railroad was, indeed, very hard to come by, but that’s mainly because he wasn’t born until 10 years later than usually reported (1951 not 1941), only lived homeless for a brief period, and even then stayed mostly in California. How did I find that out? In the first instance, because he said so himself: in interviews with both the American and Norwegian press, conducted before he became famous, he's openly stated an accurate age, original surname, and his presence in Haight-Ashbury in the mid and late Sixties.   

Shanti's dates are smack in the middle of when Steve was, apparently, riding trains To begin with, the evidence that Steve was a committed, career-long music professional, not a blue-collar amateur, was patchy. But by the time I’d discovered, in an obscure interview with The Tremens (a favourite band he’d recorded at his studio in Olympia), the definitive documentary evidence that he’d spent years continuously in San Francisco 1965-72, the game was up for his hobo lifestyle. The Tremens were especially impressed by Steve’s involvement in a band called Shanti. I will never forget reading that line. 

Shanti wasn’t a blues band, nor was it rock, or any of the related genres one might imagine Steve to be associated with. It was an Indian-American fusion outfit, dedicated to the promulgation of Transcendental Meditation. While that philosophy was, of course, widespread among musicians at the time, it was less prevalent among the homeless population, and Shanti’s dates - 1970-2 - are smack in the middle of when Steve was, apparently, riding trains. Shanti's members were all already part of the TM community, and must have known each other for some time before they teamed up. Given Steve’s claims in the Norwegian press that he was, for example, at the Fillmore almost daily during the Summer of Love, he must have been living in California the whole time, mostly playing music.  

The evidence for Steve’s involvement in Shanti (pictured below, Steve back left), when it arrived, could hardly have been more mainstream. Shortly before the band split in 1972, Rolling Stone staff writer Charles Perry, who later composed the history of Haight-Ashbury, wrote an effusive profile of the band. This whole-page tribute oozes glorious hippie details. At one point, Steve is heard to remark, "I’ve had this deep insight about the group. All our drummers were breast-fed, and all our bassists were bottle-fed." Down-home hobo lore it isn’t. 

The band’s only album was reissued last year on Real Gone Records. Anyone still doubting Steve’s identity need only read the liner notes, by distinguished music writer Richie Unterberger, who confirms explicitly who the band’s bassist Steve Leach has become. Six months after my jaw first hit the keyboard on reading all of this, it still astonishes me that Steve has been able to hide in plain sight for 10 years, despite being a major star with a substantial fan base, and the tabloid profile that entails.

ShantiThe psychological impact of stardom on Steve has been curious. Before his breakthrough, the idea of being a star appalled him: according to The Tremens, he used to say, "God forgive the soul who wants to be a rock star." Having become a rock star, unexpectedly, overnight, at least part of the reasoning for the smokescreen his fans received was the opportunity to create an alter-ego for himself, so the real Steve could remain private. Of course, it was partly also a PR scheme to prolong his popularity as a singer of apparently autobiographical hobo blues.

Yet even before he became famous, there were instances when Steve has massaged his personal history for the sake of his image. He told a Seattle magazine in 2000, for example, that he’d run a studio in Europe before his move to Olympia, when in fact the studio had been in Tennessee. It had failed because of what Steve memorably described as the "Christian bullshit thing", whereby several of the previously independent music radio stations around Nashville were bought by Christian Gospel radio networks, and so were no longer interested in broadcasting his studio’s indie music.

During the early stages of his performances as Seasick Steve, with the Level Devils, he created his own record label, There’s A Dead Skunk Records, to release their first album Cheap. According to Steve’s Norwegian manager at that time, this label (now officially incorporated into Steve’s intellectual property) had no legal status to begin with, yet was given a "false address" in Clarksdale, Mississippi, as if to authenticate Steve’s blues credentials. (Even more curiously, in 2009 BBC Four took Steve to Mississippi to make a documentary, Bringing It All Back Home, even though Mississippi has almost certainly never been Steve’s home in any regular sense of the word.)

He is, then, a proud man, always keen to manage his own image to his advantage, even before he became famous. What he says about his past is complex and multi-layered, even when it’s also wrong. After his hobo past, the most iconic part of his current image are those trademarks of his recent performances: the three-string guitar, stomp box and other assorted DIY instruments. These are what I’d expected, when I set out to write his life, to spend much time investigating. According to his son, they’re “his gimmick”.


Overleaf: watch Shanti perform



The biggest problem with this book is that the author presents both facts and conjecture together in the same place, without any clear delineation between the two. Just by way of example, I can say with 100% certainty that Steve did NOT have a recording studio in Tennessee, and neither were his sons Didrik and Henry born in Franklin, Tennessee (both were born in Norway). He was in Tennessee for less than two years and it was during this time that he did the paramedic/fire department training while working at the local volunteer fire department at the same time. Certainly no recording studio. It's also interesting to note that the only people the author actually spoke to who know/knew Steve, are people that have a grudge against Steve for one reason or another. Not an un-biased source in the lot. So again, the frustrating part of the book is that there are equal parts interesting new information, and complete utter nonsense. The Seasick Steve myth continues, as far as I'm concerned!

I have, of necessity, reduced a 70,000-word book into a 1000-word article, and so have not had space to explain the weight of evidence behind every statement made, as I do in the biography. Steve is on the record, in a press release from Warner Music, saying he had a studio in Tennessee. Full details in the book. His sons' place of birth is of little interest, and not something I have dwelt on. The contacts I have spoken to all have a mixed experience of Steve, and all said much that was complimentary. Again, this is reported fully in the book. The main significance of 'myth', of course, as the anonymous commenter must surely realise, is what the vast majority of his fans love about what they thought was his life story - his supposedly autobiographical lyrics. While I acknowledge that Steve has had some experience of living homeless, it was much less time than his official biography suggests, and has been used to obscure the reality of his professional musical background. That's the myth that's unravelled, and that, far more than where his sons were born, is what his fans will be interested in. 

My comments were based on having read the whole book -- not this article. I wouldn't critique your work without having read it properly first.

And again, whatever you may have heard or read in another article or press release, Steve never had a studio in Tennessee. You completely missed a number of years when after living in England, Steve did not go to Tennessee, but back to Norway and a few other places, before the couple years spent in Tennesse.

The move to Washington was motivated, as Steve has said, by his wife wanting to get out of Tennessee (hot and dry) and go somewhere more like Norway. Steve had been to Washington briefly in his earlier years and liked it, and there was also an opening for a paramedic, and Steve being recently qualified, applied for the job. It was only after he injured his back and wasn't able to continue as a paramedic that he opened the guitar shop in Olympia. There was no master plan to take over the grunge scene.

Another key thing: in several places you hinge your argument and timeline on the notion that in Dog House Boogie, Steve says that he was homeless for 11 (eleven) years. "Eleven years of bumbling around" as you put it. I don't know where you got that idea from, but here are the correct lyrics from the original Dog House Boogie:

"I left home before I was 14 years of age / I figured I'd do it better on my own / well then followed a number of years of bummin' around / and livin' kinda hand-to-mouth / sometimes getting locked up and sometimes just going cold and hungry" -- yes, a *number* of years.

Out of curiosity, I listened to several other versions of the song, and he always says "a number of years". Either way, being skint in Haight Ashbury or wherever else, playing odd gigs and trying to be a musician still sounds a lot like "living hand to mouth / sometimes going cold and hungry".

You also point out that Steve then sings "I never really had me no school education" -- and use that to backup your surprise that he was a qualifed paramedic at one point. Bear in mind that Steve is singing about being 14 years old (roughly) and leaving home -- and at that time didn't have much education so didn't have many options. He's not saying that he never had any education in his whole life. The paramedic training was, what, several decades later?? Nevermind that I've heard Steve mention being a paramedic and firefighter (amongst many other random jobs) in interviews before -- so why you think this is such a big revelation, I really don't know.

Seems to me like you're just trying to make mountains out of molehills.

Do you like his music? Great, listen to it. If you don't, that's great too, but why try and spoil it for other people? For money? Attention? I really don't get it. The guy has worked hard, hasn't intentionally misled anybody (the UK press did that all on their own) and now has a measure of success, really for the first time in his life. I, for one, am happy for him. 

It's a shame Steve said he had a studio in Tennessee if it's not true (I have a copy of that documnt), but that, like his sons' birth dates, is marginal for my argument. I have first-hand evidence that he moved to Notodden, Norway, soon after he discovered the blues scene there, specifically for the music. Yes, there were some cute stories in the Norwegian press that Steve had moved to Notodden because his wife was a fan of Dag Solstad's novel T. Singer. In fact, Steve wanted to move his studio to a town with a thriving blues scene, and I suggest the same is true of Olympia, despite the distractions about Washington's Norwegian scenery. 

Your remarks about the lyrics of "Dog House Boogie" are, likeswise, a distraction from the central issue, which is why Steve and his PR team have misrepresented his age consistently and repeatedly for the past ten years. Some versions of the song I've found have the lyric "eleven years bumblin' around", but even if that lyric is the exception, the fact remains that Steve has repeatedly obscured his real age since his breakthrough, when before 2006 he was very open, and precise, about how old he was. Why is this, if not to mislead fans about his whereabouts in the 1950s, 60s and 70s? You say that 'Dog House Boogie' may be about the life of a poor musician, but what about 'Hobo Blues', 'Hobo Low', or 'Just Because I Can (CSX)'?  

On Steve's education, you may excuse his song lyric, but he's said the same in interviews many years after he went to college for his paramedic's qualification. He's even doubted his son Henry's relationship to him, on account of Henry's education, in an interview for this very publication. 

I baffled that you feel my biography is spoiling his fans' enjoyment of his music. Why would it spoil a music fan's pleasure to learn that Steve knew Janis Joplin, Albert King, the Beach Boys, Jimi Hendrix, or Slash from Guns N' Roses, and was a professional musician, with a few breaks, for his entire working life? For me, the official line, that Steve spent 20 years as a hobo, then another 20 throwing hammers and selling shoes, insults his fans' intelligence. It's simply not credible that a musician of his skill should emerge from nowhere like this.

As a critic, I always try to enrich the readers' understanding of the music/TV/literature I'm writing about. I'm sure most of his fans would love to hear from Steve about the astonishing range of musicians he's performed with over the last 50 years, and how their music has influenced his own.

As for your claim that the misinformation about Steve's life is purely the fault of the press - it's preposterous. Watch this: How much of what Steve says about his musical background, and earlier career, is actually true?  

Why do you hide behind your anonymous identity? I'm happy to discuss this with you, whoever you are, in public. 

I've kept myself anonymous for the very simple reason that you clearly have zero respect for peoples' privacy and are willing to twist words and history to suit your own theories and/or for your personal gain. I want no part of that. 

At any rate, you've clearly spent a lot of time on your book, and I'm sure you would happily argue anything I put forward, regardless of the facts, for as long as I have the energy. Frankly, I don't think you're prepared to accept any alternative reality to the one you've constructed, and as such, further debate isn't likely to be productive. With every error I've pointed out, you've essentially said that I'm trying to distract from the main issue -- but the main issue for me is that your book is littered with half-truths at best. The examples I used, are simply to prove the point -- that there are errors -- and if one fact is inaccurate, then how many others are as well?

At the end of the day, I happen to be in a pretty unique position to know with complete certainty that there are many fallacies throughout the book, both in the timelines and your assessment of Steve's character/motives, and I feel like it's important to put that little bit of truth out there.

Just as the press jumped on the hobo thing and virtually refused to print anything unrelated to that, I imagine now that the press could potentially take your book (or even worse, your summarised article/review of your own book -- rather unorthodox, that, by the way) and do the same. 

The sense of entitlement/ownership that some writers seem to possess is truly astounding. As we speak, Steve's friend Jack White is going through a similar situation -- unauthorised biography full of all sorts of suprious claims (even claiming to have interviewed Steve about Jack!) What gives you (or any author) the moral right to publish an incomplete/inaccurate/unauthorised biography of a living person? Your intentional slander, or even just misguided errors, could have a real effect on a real live human being's professional and/or personal life. And we 're not talking about some unscrupulous billionaire businessman, or a political candidate running for office, but rather an artist/musician whose primary goal is to entertain and make others happy. But I don't imagine that crossed your mind during your little crusade...?

I just hope that the readers will use their common sense and understand that just because something is printed, doesn't make it so. Just as shoddy journalism and misquoted interviews started most of the misconceptions about Steve, your book, in trying to reveal the 'true' Seasick Steve, only really accomplishes the dissemination of more inaccurate/misleading information. 

Again, I applaud your determination and commitment, and there are plenty of things in the book that are more or less accurate. It's also well written (though you should speak to your proofreader as there were several little typos). But a supposedly factual book that is only partly accurate (even if we're very generous and say 60% accurate and 40% inaccurate) is essentially worthless as a reference unless the reader, as in my case, knows the story already and can differentiate between the facts and conjecture.

Caveat lector

You claim to have read the book, but have clearly missed the dozens of qualifications I make about the quality of some of the evidence available. When the evidence is weak or conflicting, I say so. Indeed, chapter six, about the 1980s, begins: “The 1980s are another poorly documented period in Steve’s life…” I have assumed that intelligent readers will understand that some of the information I present as weak or conflicting is exactly that.

You repeatedly insist on your superior insight, yet in refusing to give any information about your credentials, only create suspicion about your knowledge and motives. Are you just repeating what Steve has told you – he’s hardly a reliable source, is he?

As for Steve’s Tennessee studio, my source is a November 2009 press release from Neuland Concerts, a German division of Warner Music. It says: “By the time the 1980s rolled around, Steve had settled down with a Norwegian waitress he met in a bar in Oslo during one of his stints in a touring band. Moving to rural Tennessee he built a small recording  studio, but when  that  didn’t  work  out  “because  there  was  this  whole  country  and western, Christian bullshit thing goin’ on down there,” the Wolds eventually had to pack up and leave again.” It’s unfortunate if Steve or the PR is lying here, but it’s a reputable source.  

Yes, Steve has rowed back on his hobo lifestyle recently - though he still insists it continued until 1972, when he was definitely playing in Shanti - but he has replaced it with the equally misleading insistence that he worked blue-collar jobs for the past forty years, “throwing hammers and selling shoes”, rather than gigging, recording, and being a paramedic.

I find your definition of entitled rather peculiar. There seems to me to be much more entitlement in knowingly perpetuating a misleading account of a singer’s life, which happens to result in millions of record sales to fans who think the singer is telling the literal truth, than in piecing together a more realistic account with the aim of elucidating these fans.

You have picked on instances which I admit, in the book, are sometimes doubtful, but will not concede that on much bigger issues, with much more bearing on Steve’s music, of much more interest to his hoodwinked fans – Shanti, TM, 1960s San Francisco, Steve’s 50-year music career – my account is both new to the vast majority of Steve’s fans and accurate.

As I say repeatedly in the book, I greatly admire Steve as a musician. I very much hope that one day he will tell his own story of his fascinating musical collaborations over the years, and will no longer need these smokescreens about hammers and trains.

I've been a friend of Steve's since he's been Seasick. I made a couple of his stage instruments, took a few photos for his album packages, and ran his fan forum. I've spent time with Steve back stage at dozens of shows, on stage, and once or twice in private too.

I can't comment personally on Steve before Seasick. However, I have read, watched and listened to many interviews, and I recall him stating publicly that the popular image of his life's history is only one part of his story, indeed he's lamented that the media has often chosen to ignore other aspects of his life, propagating only the hobo edged aspects. It's only natural that Steve's official biog tells only the part of the story relevant to his audience today. If he told the whole story he'd no doubt need more than your 70,000 word biography to do so - not ideal for a brief press biog.

What I believe I can comment on with authority (having run his forum and known personally a sizeable number of his most loyal fans), is why Steve's fans are attracted to him, and why they remain loyal. Sure, Steve's authenticity is part of it. And really, does the fact that Steve spent only a proportion of his life homeless diminish that authenticity? I've been lucky enough never to have been homeless, but I'd imagine that if I had even a month living without my own roof over my head I'd be qualified to talk, and write songs about it for life.

But even putting authenticity to one side, I believe from countless conversations with them, that Steve's fans are loyal to him because of who he is today. They love his music and energy. They recognise his loyalty to his fans, and his unquestionable determination to play every show as if it's his last - ensuring everyone who's bought a ticket gets to see a top quality show. They value that Steve recognises many of his fans and knows more than a few by name, and will stop (even mid show) to say hello. A fact that has to my knowledge never been publicised, is that Steve has personally written to a number of his fans just to say thanks for their support - I know this to be fact as I have sourced addresses and posted notes out for him. This is just one example to illustrate his genuine affection and loyalty to his fans.

So to summarise, Steve's never made a secret of the fact he's done many more things in his life than sleep under a bridge (indeed he's sang about more than just homelessness). He has lived rough and thus, in my view, has all the credentials needed to write and perform songs about the experience. And in my experience, Steve's fans are more interested in the Steve they know today, his charm on stage, his loyalty, and above all his music.


Thank you, davey.

I feel a little sorry for both seasick and Matthew. for seasick mainly because anything that is or will be written about him are from clips of interviews and other writings. in the end it will turn into some sort of "Chinese whisper". I was going to buy Mr wrights biography on seasick, hence the reason why I feel sorry for him too, because the majority of people will read reviews on what they want to buy, and the first thing I wanted to know is, that this book is an actual account of seasicks life as if it was narrated by him and then written by Mr wright. 

therein lies the solution to this dilemma. people often ask seasick in interviews about his past life and in one interview I saw on YouTube he sort of got tired of talking about this subject and wanted rather to discuss his new album. so why not get a truthful biography out to the world then when anybody asks about seasick history he can say. "wanna know about my past? then buy the book"


Christian chappell UK hull

Who gives a shit about the anonymous wanker above or Seasick Steve? Made a few good songs, lot of his work is 'samey stuff' and you don't listen to it anymore after a while. Fact is that Steve's a lier and an actor but hey, downloading makes good for that. Next!

Seems that this column has not raised many comments and none since June. Hopefully Mr Wright will fade away and be forgotten quickly. If his claim to fame is as the guy that "exposed" Seasick Steve, they he deserves an amount of sympathy I suppose, sad man as he is.

Really should we be interested in times dates, who did what and when. Seasick Steve history has made him what he is, I was at Wembley last Friday and it was a brilliant night. If Seasick Steve decided to quit because of people like Mr Wright, what a loss that would be. If we loose Mr Wright I would be surprised if anyone would even notice. Enjoy your little bit of infamy Mr Wright, Then go away!

I too was at Friday's concert and thought it was great. I hadn't read about his 'fakery' then and therefore was confused about him saying something about did his fans love him only for his image/past, or was it because he was so handsome and sexy. And of course saying he doesn't recognise himself in the paper sometimes. I understand now.If the book is true then of course many of his fans will be disappointed - as I am. But I've loved every minute of the 5 concerts i've been to and they inspire a seductive image of an old american past - true of him or not. My greatest feeling is pity for steve if his world comes crashing down. He always appears a unique, humble and lovely man. (Loved his put down of the scuffle at the concert). Can we predict his retirement now? And do these revelations have something to do with the cancellation of his Californian concert? Surely they know the truth over there anyway.

Having said all this, and being angry with Wright's exposure, steve should have been honest from the start. It was all going to catch up with him eventually. But still love you Steve - I always wished he would pick me to sing his ballad to.

What a lot of outrage, Mr Whitham. If only I could a coherent line of argument in your foaming tirade. If you're not interested in "times and dates" then why bother reading a biography of Steve? Times and dates are what most biographers deal in. Why not just leave the facts to those who care about them, and enjoy your fantasy of hobo Steve? 

If you read the book, you will discover that I have much admiration for Steve as a performer. There are countless examples of successful pop acts who have made an invented persona for themselves. That's all fine. However, they are generally honest about the fact it's an act. You didn't find Bowie giving interviews about his many years living in space. 

Steve's fame and success have depend on an almost unprecedented uprising of support from fans who loved the authenticity of his act. Having read hundreds of fan forum posts and album reviews, I'm sure that most of Steve's fans believed his hobo story literally. He has deceived these people in an unattractive way, and his considerable commercial success has depended on their support. Had he told the truth at the outset, and said he was a lifelong session musician with a novelty blues act, would he have played Glastonbury? Got a breakthrough MOJO? Been on Top Gear, Chris Evans Breakfast Show, etc? Enjoy your fantasy while you can, Mr Whitham. 

Appreciate I'm a bit Late on this but I find it astounding the amount of critique that Mr Wright is getting in these comments. At the end of the day, the man has written a book, used research to back it up, stated when he isn't sure on the veracity of either a claim or a more general time period. That to me is good writing. It's in stark contrast to an official biography which are clearly full of words that back stories and myths. That's the way it goes. If one chooses to enjoy his music still, that's great. If one chooses to find it a little difficult to enjoy his music because they feel a big deceived that's fine. That's not Matthew Wright's fault, that's just the way it is. I expect Steve is a nice man, and it doesn't change the fact some of his music is pretty great, but come on. Read the words, accept evidence where it's presented and accept it as another episode in the interesting story of Seasick Steve. Listen or don't listen. I would warrant that if you are on here raging about Matthew Wright then in your heart you do feel a little deceived and don't want to admit it yourself. But let it go, enjoy the music. But don't criticise a man for doing his job well. The man didn't set out to write a book to destroy this man as far as I am aware. Stop the rage and listen or don't listen. There are plenty of examples in music of artists creating myths around themselves, it doesn't destroy careers, unless your're Milli Vanilli. And let's remember here Steve is still a talented man, just decided to create a myth as part of his backstory. Now we know, accept it or don't. Enjoy or don't. And yes, I have read the book. And no I do not know Matthew Wright or Seasick Steve. I have no agenda here other than to write something about a writer of books doing his job, and actually, a man who created a myth who can write great music, also doing his job. BRuce Springsteen's Ghost of Tom Joad is a classic in my mind. BRuce Springsteen is writing stories. THats not his life. He didn't claim it to be. They are moving all the same. Whether you decide that Steve claims all his stories to be true and whether they are or not and how that effects you is down to you, not Seasick Steve or Matthew Wright. Goodness me people!

Whatever year he was born.  Whatever is the truth. I love Steve's music and he seems a kind and good hearted man. We need more of this in our world! God bless him! That's what's important to me!

Are people buying into Sea sick steve for his vague history or good music. Personally I love the music. Steves history is secondary, Mr wright doesnt make good anything. Excellent work Mr Wright. Go fight a worthwhile cause, expose trump. That would be a fame moment! So a musician made up a persona, dont they all? There were reports that he was booed at the wembley concert because of your story, no don`t flatter yourself, not true, the boos were in response to his comments made inclusive of trump. Sitting here listening to “I`m gone“, apt! Go get a job mr wright.

Well well, I guess that the writer should have interviewed me since I lived with Steve, went to school with him, played in bands and recorded with him, slept in roadside rests with him, gigged with him and had my parents feed him when we both were on the verge of starving and lived hand to mouth fixing and selling old guitars to rock stars. Yes he had a studio that spent a lot of time in the back seat of a '67 Plymouth, yes we drove a beat up '55 Chevy truck with Mexican plates and a couple of guitars in back down the coast to Big Sur. When you try to play music to live and feed yourself in a cutthroat business world sometimes your shoes are worn out and all you have to wear are a pair of overalls cause they are cheap and last longer and I can vouch for the fact that both of us were wearing them for 50 years, Many near death experiences and watching riches turn to rags makes anyone feel like a vagabond in life, but I'll tell you this: Steve is the real deal folks, he's been through stuff you can't imagine good and bad, and through it all he's remained a musically inspiring driven eccentric that dared to go places many would shrink away from while externalizing his raw musical emotions with ease. I've known his loves and losses. I helped him find a place to live when he had no money and he helped me with work when I was living on $25 a month. I watched him get free recording sessions in the best studios in the world when he didn't even own a car or know where his next meal was coming from.. Sometimes I regret that I didn't go with him to play in the subways or metros for spare change but the best times are there anyhow just sittin' together with Steve on a deserted beach playing guitar and writing songs until our naked asses were burnt or the cops showed up. I gave Steve my beat up japanese 12 string and he took six strings off, drove a wrecked "51 Chevrolet with the seats torn out, up the coast to the Sky River festival and managed to get on stage and play meeting Donovan who saved his life. Yes Steve is the real deal call him a hobo or a life-long musician who attempts things that make others wilt in fear, he's a great guy with deep talent that's kept him afloat for a lifetime whether he's dancing in the moonlight, playing with the Tower of Power horn section, doing a private concert for George Harrison, riding a Harley with his 3 year old son strapped to him with a belt, or convincing me to wear overalls to the film premiere of "Mad Dogs and Englishmen" this guy named Steve will always be more than meets the eye...he's my friend.

Sounds like he may be the 'real deal' but not the deal he claims to be. If anything, the experiences described by Dave Collin are more interesting than the 'myth' so maybe Steve should have given us the reality all along? He's a great entertainer anyway ...

Time moves on... here we are in 2018 and Mr always claimed to be Steven Gene Wold, born in Mississippi in 1941, who learnt his chops as a freight-train-hopping vagrant in the Deep South or was actually born Steven Leach in 1951 and raised amid the hippie scene in San Francisco, thereafter becoming a jobbing session musician who majored in disco, of all things is out there still gigging. Hardly an authentic apprenticeship for the blues but he is still out there gigging and people are still buying into it which is what they want... The reality is Seasick Steve was a jobbing musician (real name Steve Leach) who’d previously made transcendental music and disco albums trying to make a living out of the industry and is doing very well with his act. Without dwelling on the complex socio-economic factors that can render a person homeless within this act I know why the back story was engineered and why it has been massaged. Adding 10 years to his age is the icing on the deception/marketing. He's a very good musician that can turn his hand to any style but if he had been presented at the time as a 50 odd year old session musician that had dabbled in styles including disco then the outcome (selling albums all over the world) may have been different... why? because people want a story...songs about life on the open road with no-one but a trusty hound for company.... I read a review on one of his albums... I can't help but agree with it... 'but does he make a bad joke out of the misery faced daily by over 100million people worldwide? we live in an age where so many people pretend to like music, obsessed with not falling behind the hum of the blogosphere. Fact is, music finds itself in a time of flux– bands break in different ways and rarely unify people in the same way they used to – and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. But is this the best we can do? Desperate-to-be-authentic, carbohydrate-stodgy white blues, played by an elderly man(lyimh about his age) pretending to be a tramp?' Ultimately it's about individual choice and what an individual wants from the music they desire... he is talented and can do the old blues-man act very well... with a lot of balls, a 3 string battered guitar, the appropriate worn out overalls, a big beard and a country drawl... Personally I'd rather have the session man story as I'm not happy with a manufactured back story but he has managed 12 years of this so he has done okay... it's sort of a blues cabaret... Mt. Leach turns up to work... overalls on, old hat and he's Seasick Steve... Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler said in his notorious Decline Of Western Civilization Part II interview in the late ‘80s, he summed the relationship between art and artifice up perfectly. “If you want something that bad,” he said, “and you think positive about it, it gets to the point where you become it, and therefore you are it.” Seasick has made himself and has a seat... good luck to him...

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