Monday, May 27, 2024

RIP The Great Bob Neuwirth, Influential Songwriter, Filmmaker, Bob Dylan Collaborator


I was lucky enough to know Bob Neuwirth, a legend in folk music who collaborated with Bob Dylan and had his own amazing career. When Dylan was accused of malfeasance last year, Neuwirth was the first person I called. For so many he was a ‘rabbi,’ a touchstone, and influence. He died suddenly yesterday at age 82.

Bob Neuwirth, DA Pennebaker on stage at Monterey Pop, photo courtesy of Frazer Pennebaker

I knew Bob through DA Pennebaker. They were great friends who worked together on the seminal films, “Don’t Look Back” and “Monterey Pop.”

Paula Batson, Bob’s wife, sent this statement:

“On Wednesday evening in Santa Monica, Bob Neuwirth’s big heart gave out. Bob was an artist throughout every cell of his body and he loved to encourage others to make art themselves. He was a painter, songwriter, producer and recording artist whose body of work is loved and respected.

“For over 60 years, Bob was at the epicentre of cultural moments from Woodstock to Paris, Don’t Look Back to Monterey Pop, Rolling Thunder to Nashville and Havana. He was a generous instigator who often produced and made things happen anonymously. The art is what mattered to him, not the credit.

“He was an artist, a mentor and a supporter to many. He will be missed by all who love him.”

He really will be, too. It’s especially sad when a really great person leaves us. Among his many accomplishments in music, Bob co-wrote “Mercedes Benz” with Janis Joplin and Michael McClure. It was Bob who played Joplin “Me and Bobby McGee” by Kris Kristofferson.

And while all the obits today will include Dylan, Bob Neuwirth had a wide ranging career that included many acclaimed solo albums and one with John Cale of the Velvet Underground.

Condolences to Bob’s family, his many friends and countless fans. Here’s a link to another obit with even more details.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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