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     Wainwright III, Loudon (5th September 1946-Present)

    He is a folk singer-songwriter, actor and humorist born Loudon Snowden Wainwright III in Chapel Hill, North Carolina and raised in Bedford, New York and Beverly Hills, California.  Descended from Peter Stuyvesant, his father was an editor for Life magazine, his mother was a yoga teacher and his sister, Sloan, is a singer.

     

    He took his early studies in Beverly Hills, California, where he had a crush on his classmate Liza Minnelli, but moved back to New York in 1956 when he was about 10.  It was then that he bought his first single, Elvis Presley’s “All Shook Up” and started to sit up and take notice of music. He went to boarding school in Delaware at St. Andrew’s School, where his father had also been a pupil.  He played the guitar from about 1960 while he was still at school, later claiming that he drew some of his inspiration from seeing Bob Dylan performing at the 1962 Newport Folk Festival. 

     

    He graduated from St. Andrew’s School in 1965 and went on to attend Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Mellon drama school but left to go to San Francisco.  Somehow he managed to get jailed in Oklahoma for smoking pot and was bailed out by his father after five days who had flown back from London just to post the money for his release.  He returned to the east coast and went on to work in a number of jobs including at a boatyard in Rhode Island in the late 1960s where he was encouraged to play the guitar and also to write songs.  His first song entitled “Edgar” was named after the man who had persuaded him to take up music again and it led to about 20 songs being written within the year.

     

    Deciding to follow a career in music he performed in Boston and New York City and after having been noticed by his later manager, Milton Kramer, and landing himself a deal with Atlantic Records in 1969 his debut album appeared in 1970.  That same year he saw Kate McGarrigle performing at the Philadelphia Folk Festival and wrote a song about her.  They married soon after, went to London to do some busking and then returned to live in upstate New York.  The marriage ended in divorce in the mid-1970s but they had two children Rufus, born 1973, and Martha, born 1975, who both became singer-songwriters.

     

    After having moved to Columbia Records he released the novelty “Dead Skunk (in the Middle of the Road)” in 1972 from his Album III which became one of the songs he is most remembered for.  He also spread his wings into acting and was seen on the TV in 1974 and 1975 when he appeared in three episodes of the successful series M*A*S*H as Captain Calvin Spalding aka the “singing surgeon”.  Also in 1975 he was a guest on Saturday Night Live.  Having continued acting alongside his musical career he later had roles in many films that include The Aviator, Big Fish, Elizabethtown, The 40-Year Old Virgin, G-Force, Jacknife and 28 Days.

     

    He didn’t stop performing and writing music while acting though and in the mid 1980s two of his albums became Grammy Award nominees.  Namely I’m Alright in 1985 and More Love Songs in 1986.  He also became a household name in Britain in the 1980s when he was given the job of resident singer in Jasper Carrott’s popular show Carrott Confidential and it was followed by the TV show Loudon and Co.  Also in the 1980s he had a daughter, Lucy Wainwright Roche, with the singer Suzzy Roche and his third daughter Alexandra "Lexie" McKim Kelly Wainwright is a newspaper columnist.

     

    In 1997 his mother passed away and he became extremely depressed and stopped writing music.  After several years of therapy and living in retreat at a cabin in the woods that had belonged to his mother, he managed to recover slowly. 

     

    In the new millennium he released his 2001 Last Man on Earth and in 2005 he re-married.  He also co-composed the soundtrack for the 2007 movie Knocked Up and Lucky You by Carl Hiassen which had its theatrical premiere at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2008.  In 2010 he was the Grammy Award winner for his High Wide and Handsome which is a tribute to the North Carolina singing banjo player Charlie Poole.

     

    During his busy and successful musical career he has released around 23 albums with some of them including Loudon Wainwright III, Attempted Mustache, T-Shirt, Final Exam, Fame and Wealth, History, Grown Man, The BBC Sessions, Here Come the Choppers, Strange Weirdos, Recovery and 10 Songs for the New Depression.  Other recording his work has featured on include Way of the World by Mose Aliison, 20 Golden Greats by Brook Benton, American Recordings by Johnny Cash, So Damn Happy by Aretha Franklin, Sweet Revenge by Generation X, No Big Surprise: Anthology by Steve Goodman, Kinks by The Kinks, Men by Gladys Knight, Roses by Kathy Mattea, Ultimate Curtis Mayfield by Curtis Mayfield, McGarrigle Hour by Kate & Anna McGarrigle, Mirmama by Eddi Reader, Songs from an Unmarried Housewife and Mother, Greenwich Village, USA by Suzzy Roche, Got Live If You Want It! by The Rolling Stones, Superjammin by Earl Scruggs and Out of This World by Shakatak and From Where You Are by Sloan Wainwright.  His topical songs have also been included on ABC’s Nightline and Morning Edition on N.P.R.

     

    Sources:

    1. http://www.lw3.com/about.html#
    2. http://www.myspace.com/lw3lw3
    3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loudon_Wainwright_III
    4. http://www.rosebudus.com/wainwright/biography.html
    5. http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=11:3ifyxqq5ldhe
    6. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0906525/bio
    7. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0906525/
    8. http://mixonline.com/mag/audio_loudon_wainwright_iii/
    9. http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2010/jan/19/kate-mcgarrigle-obituary
    10. http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=11:3ifyxqq5ldhe~T4
    11. http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=11:3ifyxqq5ldhe~2~T40B
    12. http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=11:3ifyxqq5ldhe~3~T40B

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     



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