First Images

By Tom Erikson

I was six years old, and it was 1967, when my parents took me to my first concert. The performance was by Peter Seeger, at the municipal theater in Essex county on Cape Anne, in Massachusetts. There were still a few glowing embers of the big ‘60s folk boom left in New England and Seeger was a patron saint of that movement, then, as he is today. I fell asleep in the middle of the show, but before I did I remember being quite taken with the banjo player, Roy Clark, who I recognized two years later, when he became a big star on the television show Hee Haw.

It was about 20 years later that I first photographed Seeger. He was playing The Greek Theater with Arlo Guthrie. After the show I approached Pete’s long-time manager Harold Leaventhal, who had also managed Arlo’s father Woody Guthrie, and inquired about conducting an interview. He gave me his card, telling me to call him when I was next in New York City. When I traveled east to visit my family, Leaventhal arranged for me to have some time with Pete at his home in Beacon, New York, on the Hudson River. That interview was the first in-depth conversation I’d ever had with an important musician, and it became part of a long series of encounters and interviews with great musical figures.