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Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Phoebe Snow born 17 July 1950

Phoebe Snow (born July 17, 1950 – April 26, 2011) was an American singer, songwriter, and guitarist, best known for her chart-topping 1975 hit "Poetry Man". She was described by The New York Times as a "contralto grounded in a bluesy growl and capable of sweeping over four octaves.
She was born Phoebe Ann Laub in New York and grew up in Teaneck, New Jersey. Her mother, Lili Grossman, was a former dancer with Martha Graham's company and had married Merrill Laub, an entertainer turned pest exterminator, who also restored antiques.
Snow studied the piano but switched to the guitar in her teens. "I wanted to be the greatest woman guitarist alive," she said. In the early 1970s she began playing in Greenwich Village. Although afflicted with severe stage fright, she possessed an awesome four-octave voice ranging over folk, pop, jazz and blues. She renamed herself after a fictional Phoebe Snow, who featured in advertisements for a local railway.

Snow signed to Leon Russell's Shelter label and released her debut album in 1974. The chart success of Poetry Man, distinguished by Snow's smoky voice and fluent guitar-playing, helped the album reach No 4 in the US, and she was nominated for a Grammy for best new artist. She appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone and was feted as one of the most promising singer-songwriters of the era, touring as an opening act for both Jackson Browne and Paul Simon.
She featured prominently on Simon's 1975 single Gone at Last and also sang back-up vocals on his hit 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover. Snow moved to Columbia Records and her album Second Childhood (1976) went gold, but it lacked a hit single. In the late 1970s she released the albums Never Letting Go and Against the Grain – one track, Every Night, was a top 40 hit in the UK in 1979 – but she slipped out of view after releasing the album Rock Away (1981).
Part of the problem was that Snow's eclectic musical tastes had made her difficult to pigeonhole and market. More significant was the arrival of her daughter, Valerie, in 1975, who was born with hydrocephalus (fluid on the brain). Snow and her husband, the musician Phil Kearns, separated and Snow combined looking after Valerie with recording new material.

"With my quick success, I didn't have time to learn the ropes of the music business," she told the New York Times. "Because my first record was such a hit, I was terribly spoiled and thought I couldn't do anything wrong. I was also desperate to make tonnes of money because of my responsibility to my daughter. And there was no longer any joy in making music."
Her situation was further complicated by breach-of-contract lawsuits. She released a new album, Something Real, in 1989 and performed as part of the New York Rock and Soul Revue, a stellar ensemble put together by Steely Dan's Donald Fagen, featuring Boz Scaggs and Michael
McDonald. She appeared on the group's 1991 live album.
In 1994 she sang at the 25th anniversary of the Woodstock festival as part of a group including Mavis Staples, Thelma Houston and CeCe Peniston. During the 80s and 90s she sang on commercials and was a regular guest on Howard Stern's radio show. She performed at Stern's wedding in 2008 and also sang for President Bill Clinton at Camp David. In 2003 she released Natural Wonder, her first album of new material for 14 years. A live album was released in 2008.
Her daughter Valerie died in 2007, aged 31. "She was my universe," said Snow. "She had fulfilled every profound love and intimacy and desire I could ever have dreamed of."

Phoebe Snow suffered a cerebral haemorrhage on January 19, 2010 and slipped into a coma, enduring bouts of blood clots, pneumonia, and congestive heart failure. Snow died on April 26, 2011 at age 60 in Edison, New Jersey. (Info mainly edited from

Phoebe live in Germany. Larry DeBari/guitar, Joy Askew/keys, Frank Villardi/drums, David Conrad/bass

1 comment:

boppinbob said...

For Phoebe Snow’s 1974 debut album go here:

1."Good Times" (Sam Cooke) – 2:20
2."Harpo's Blues" – 4:22
3."Poetry Man" – 4:36
4."Either or Both" – 3:52
5."San Francisco Bay Blues" (Jesse Fuller) – 3:29
6."I Don't Want the Night to End" – 3:55
7."Take Your Children Home" – 4:15
8."It Must Be Sunday" – 5:50
9."No Show Tonight" – 2:57
CD (DCC label Only) bonus tracks
10."Easy Street" [original demo] – 3:20
11."Good Times" [original demo] (Cooke) – 2:39
12."Harpo's Blues" [original demo] – 4:55
13."I Don't Want the Night to End" [original demo] – 3:55
14."It Must Be Sunday" [original demo] – 6:42
15."San Francisco Bay Blues" [original demo] (Fuller) – 4:09
16."Poetry Man" [original demo] – 3:43