Cult folk singer/songwriter Bob Frank has died. The news was confirmed by Light In The Attic, the independent record label that reissued his 1972 self-titled debut album in 2014. He was 75 years old.
LITA is incredibly bummed to hear that Bob Frank passed away yesterday. In 2014 we reissued Bob’s 1972 album and loved working with him. He took elements of Dylan, Johnny Cash, Ian Tyson and filtered it through a pot-smoked haze infused with Bob’s friend, Jim Dickinson. RIP, Bob. pic.twitter.com/YAkkmyEmRN
— Light In The Attic (@lightintheattic) July 20, 2019
Born in Memphis, Tennessee in 1944, Frank began playing coffeehouses in the early ’60s. In 1966, after getting kicked out of Vanderbilt University for playing guitar in his dorm, he graduated from Rhodes College with a degree in English. He was then drafted into the Army and sent to fight in Vietnam. When he returned two years later in 1968, Frank moved around the country, working on a ranch in Colorado and a cannery in Washington state and living on communes in Northern California. Eventually, he moved to Nashville, where he was hired to write commercial country songs for the Tree music publishing company.
Frank soon signed to Vanguard Records, which released his self-title debut in 1972. Despite good reviews, it didn’t sell well, and he was dropped from the label after refusing to sing any of the album’s songs during a publicity showcase at the iconic New York nightclub Max’s Kansas City. He moved to the Bay Area, where he briefly led a band called the Hardheads before quitting music to work as an irrigation specialist for the city of Oakland and raise his four children.
Nearly 30 years later, Frank discovered that he had become a cult artist, with rare copies of his 1972 album selling for as much as $100. He founded his own record label, Bowstring Records, and returned to performing, releasing a string of new albums beginning in 2001. In 2014, Light In The Attic reissued his 1972 debut. Frank’s most recent album, Dancing In Dallas, came out in 2018. Revisit his work below.