Fred Neil

Frederick Neil (March 16, 1936 – July 7, 2001)[1] was an American folk singer-songwriter in the 1960s and early 1970s. He did not achieve commercial success as a performer[2] and is mainly known through other people's recordings of his material – particularly "Everybody's Talkin'", which became a hit for Harry Nilsson after it was used in the film Midnight Cowboy in 1969.[1][3] Though highly regarded by contemporary folk singers,[2] he was reluctant to tour and spent much of the last 30 years of his life assisting with the preservation of dolphins.[3][4]

Fred Neil
Fred Neil circa 1964
Background information
Birth nameFrederick Neil
BornMarch 16, 1936
Cleveland, Ohio, United States
DiedJuly 7, 2001 (aged 65)
Summerland Key, Florida, United States
GenresBlues, folk
Occupation(s)Singer, songwriter
InstrumentsVocals, guitar
Years active1964–1975


Born in Cleveland, Ohio, and raised in St. Petersburg, Florida, Neil was exposed to music at an early age, travelling around the US with his father, who was a representative for Wurlitzer jukeboxes.[5] Neil was one of the singer-songwriters who worked out of New York City's Brill Building, a center for music industry offices.[6] While composing at the Brill Building for other artists, Neil also recorded six mostly rockabilly-pop singles for different labels as a solo artist.[5] He wrote songs that were taken by early rock and roll artists such as Buddy Holly ("Come Back Baby" 1958) and Roy Orbison ("Candy Man" 1961).[7]

Neil met Vince Martin in 1961, and they formed a singing partnership;[8] his first LP, Tear Down The Walls (1964) was recorded with Martin.[9] During 1965 and 1966 Neil was joined on many live sets by the Seventh Sons, a trio led by Buzzy Linhart on guitar and vibes. Neil released Bleecker & MacDougal on Elektra Records in 1965,[10] reissued in 1970 as A Little Bit of Rain. His album Fred Neil, released in 1967, relaunched in 1969 as Everybody's Talkin', was recorded during his residencies in Greenwich Village and Coconut Grove, Florida, with one session taking place in Los Angeles.[9]

After "Everybody's Talkin'", Neil's best-known song is "The Dolphins", which was later recorded by several artists, including Linda Ronstadt, It's a Beautiful Day, Billy Bragg, Beth Orton, and Tim Buckley, for whom Neil was a major influence.[5]

Blues and folk singer Lisa Kindred credits Neil with being her mentor in the early 1960s.[11]

Interested in dolphins since the mid-1960s, when he began visiting the Miami Seaquarium, Neil and Ric O'Barry founded the Dolphin Research Project in 1970, an organization dedicated to stopping the capture, trafficking and exploitation of dolphins worldwide.[5] Increasingly involved in that pursuit, Neil progressively disappeared from the recording studio and live performance, with only occasional performances in the rest of the 1970s.[5]

Later life and death

Neil left Woodstock in the mid-1970s and spent his remaining decades on the shores of southern Florida, involved in the Dolphin Project. Following a guest appearance with Stephen Stills at New York City's Madison Square Garden in 1971, Neil began a long retirement, performing in public mostly at gigs for the Dolphin Project Revue in Coconut Grove. He played a benefit show for the Revue in Tokyo in 1977. He performed with his core group of John Sebastian on harmonica, Harvey Brooks on bass, and Pete Childs on guitar at the Montreux Jazz Festival in July 1975.[12] Michael Lang, one of the organizers of the 1969 Woodstock Festival and a habitué of Coconut Grove in the 1970s, tried unsuccessfully to release this as a live LP. Neil's last public performance was in 1981, at an outdoor concert at the Old Grove Pub in Coconut Grove, where he joined Buzzy Linhart for one song and stayed onstage for the rest of the set.

Many of Neil's 1970s recordings remain unissued, including a 1973 session with Quicksilver Messenger Service guitarist John Cipollina and some Woodstock recordings with guitarist Arlen Roth. In a later interview, Ric O'Barry claimed that Neil recorded two albums of cover songs in 1977 and 1978 but that they had been buried by Columbia Records.[13] According to Barry, he produced the first of the recordings in the sessions in Miami. Neil was joined by Pete Childs on guitar, John Sebastian on harmonica, and Harvey Brooks on bass. The second album was more fully arranged, with Neil accompanied by the New York session band Stuff and some old friends, including Slick Aguilar. The songs on these albums were written by Bobby Charles, John Braheny, Bobby Ingram, Billy Joe Shaver, and Billy Roberts (composer of "Hey Joe").

Neil died of natural causes from skin cancer in 2001.[1]


Neil gained public recognition in 1969, when Nilsson's recording of "Everybody's Talkin'" was featured in the film Midnight Cowboy; the song became a hit and won a Grammy Award. He was one of the pioneers of the folk rock and singer-songwriter musical genres,[14][15] his most prominent musical descendants being Tim Buckley,[16] Stephen Stills,[17] David Crosby and Joni Mitchell. His most frequently cited disciples are Karen Dalton, Tim Hardin, Dino Valenti, Vince Martin, Peter Stampfel of the avant-folk ensemble the Holy Modal Rounders, John Sebastian (the Lovin' Spoonful),[17] Gram Parsons,[18] Jerry Jeff Walker, Barry McGuire,[17] and Paul Kantner (Jefferson Airplane).[19][17] Some of Neil's early compositions were recorded by Buddy Holly and Roy Orbison. He played guitar on the demo version of Bobby Darin's 1958 hit "Dream Lover" and was a demo singer on a late-1950s Elvis Presley movie soundtrack session.

In Neil's obituary in Rolling Stone, Anthony DeCurtis wrote, "So why is Neil a hero to David Crosby? Because back when Crosby was an aspiring folkie who just arrived in New York, Neil bothered to take an interest in him, just as he did for the young Bob Dylan, who backed Neil on harmonica at the Cafe Wha? in Greenwich Village. 'He taught me that everything was music,' Crosby says."[20]

In his memoir, Richie Havens recalled Neil and his then-partner Vince Martin making an entrance through the audience, without microphones, and getting the audience up and clapping by relying only on their harmonious vocals.


  • 1964: Tear Down the Walls (Elektra) with Vince Martin
  • 1965: Bleecker & MacDougal (Elektra), reissued in 1970 as A Little Bit of Rain
  • 1967: Fred Neil (Capitol), reissued in 1969 as Everybody's Talkin' [21]
  • 1967: Sessions (Capitol)
  • 1971: Other Side of This Life (Capitol), live and alternate versions
  • 1986: The Very Best of Fred Neil (See for Miles)
  • 1998: The Many Sides of Fred Neil (Collectors' Choice)
  • 2003: Do You Ever Think of Me? (Rev-Ola)
  • 2004: The Sky Is Falling: The Complete Live Recordings 1965–1971 (Rev-Ola)
  • 2005: Echoes of My Mind: The Best of Fred Neil 1963–1971 (Raven)
  • 2008: Trav'lin' Man: The Early Singles (Fallout)[9]
Anthologies including tracks by Neil
  • 1963: Hootenanny Live at the Bitter End (FM)
  • 1964: A Rootin" Tootin' Hootenanny (FM)
  • 1964: World of Folk Music (FM)

Selected songs

  • "Candy Man"
  • "Everybody's Talkin'"
  • "Ba-di-da"
  • "Tear Down the Walls"
  • "The Dolphins"
  • "Green Rocky Road"
  • "The Other Side of This Life"
  • "Country Boy & Bleecker Street"
  • "That's the Bag I'm In"
  • "Blues on the Ceiling"
  • "Wild Child in a World of Trouble"
  • "FareTheeWell"
  • "Just A Little Bit Of Rain"


  1. ^ a b c Doc Rock. "The Dead Rock Stars Club 2001". Retrieved 2015-10-12.
  2. ^ a b "Fred Neil and the '60's folk scene in New York". Retrieved 2010-12-05.
  3. ^ a b Dick Weissman (2006). Which Side Are You On?: An Inside History of the Folk Music Revival in America. Continuum International Publishing Group. ISBN 0-8264-1914-3. Retrieved 2010-12-05.
  4. ^ Stuart Shea (2002). Rock and roll's most wanted. Brassey's. ISBN 1-57488-477-8. Retrieved 2010-12-05.
  5. ^ a b c d e Brend, Mark (2001) "Fred Neil", Record Collector, No. 265, September 2001, p. 11.
  6. ^ Gray, Christopher (2009-12-30). "Streetscapes – The Brill Building – Built With a Broken Heart". Retrieved 2010-12-04.
  7. ^ Rush Evans (September 2001). "Searching for the Dolphins: The Mysterious Life of Fred Neil". Discoveries magazine. Retrieved 2010-12-05.
  8. ^ Mike Powell (2008). The Oxford American Book of Great Music Writing. University of Arkansas Press. Retrieved 2010-12-05.
  9. ^ a b c Strong, Martin C. (2000). The Great Rock Discography (5th ed.). Edinburgh: Mojo Books. p. 683. ISBN 1-84195-017-3.
  10. ^ Various Mojo Magazine (1 November 2007). The Mojo Collection: 4th Edition. Canongate Books. pp. 77–. ISBN 978-1-84767-643-6.
  11. ^ Golden Gate Grooves - Issue 11, The Golden Gate Blues Society Quarterly, Johnny Ace & Cathy Lemons, October 2011. Retrieved December 23, 2018.
  12. ^ [1] Archived May 24, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ "Fred Neil » Ric O'Barry". Retrieved 2010-12-04.
  14. ^ Unterberger, Richie. "Fred Neil: Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved March 10, 2011.
  15. ^ Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian David; eds. (2004). Fred Neil. The New Rolling Stone Album Guide. Simon and Schuster. p. 572. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8. Retrieved March 10, 2011.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  16. ^ Browne, David (2001). Dream Brother: The Lives and Music of Jeff and Tim Buckley. HarperCollins. p. 83. ISBN 0-380-80624-X. Retrieved March 11, 2011.
  17. ^ a b c d Unterberger, Richie (2002). Turn! Turn! Turn!: The '60s Folk-Rock Revolution. Hal Leonard Corporation. p. 120. Retrieved 2011-03-11.
  18. ^ Hundley, Jessica; Parsons, Polly (2005). Grievous Angel: An Intimate Biography of Gram Parsons. Da Capo Press. p. 40. ISBN 1-56025-673-7.
  19. ^ "Interview:Paul Kantner (Jefferson Starship,Jeffferson Airplane) • Hit Channel". 16 April 2014.
  20. ^ DeCurtis, Anthony (July 20, 2001). "Rocking My Life Away: Fred Neil". Rolling Stone. Retrieved March 10, 2011.
  21. ^ Mathew J. Bartkowiak; Yuya Kiuchi (15 June 2015). The Music of Counterculture Cinema: A Critical Study of 1960s and 1970s Soundtracks. McFarland. pp. 136–. ISBN 978-0-7864-7542-1.

External links


Bleecker is a Dutch-language occupational surname. Bleecker is an old spelling of (linnen)bleker ("linen bleacher"). Most if not all people listed below are descendants of Jan Jansen Bleecker/Bleeker, who came to New Amsterdam in 1658. In the Netherlands, only the spelling Bleeker is extant as a family name.

Bonnie Dobson

Bonnie Dobson (born November 13, 1940, Toronto, Ontario, Canada) is a Canadian folk music songwriter, singer, and guitarist, most known in the 1960s for composing the songs "I'm Your Woman" and "Morning Dew". The latter, augmented (with a controversial co-writing credit) by Tim Rose, became a melancholy folk rock standard, covered by Fred Neil, Ralph McTell, Lulu, Nazareth, the Grateful Dead, the Jeff Beck Group, Robert Plant, the Pozo Seco Singers, The 31st of February (including Gregg Allman, Duane Allman, and Butch Trucks of The Allman Brothers Band), Long John Baldry, DEVO and Einstürzende Neubauten, among many others.

Everybody's Talkin'

"Everybody's Talkin'" is a song written and recorded by singer-songwriter Fred Neil in 1966. A version of the song performed by Harry Nilsson became a hit in 1969, reaching No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and winning a Grammy Award after it was featured in the film Midnight Cowboy. The song, which describes the singer's desire to retreat from other people to the ocean, is among the most famous works of both artists, and has been covered by many other notable performers. The song later appeared in the 1994 film Forrest Gump and is also on the film's soundtrack album. It also appeared in the comedy film Borat, on The Hangover Part III soundtrack, in the English television show Black Books, the action comedy film Crank, and in the Only Fools and Horses episode "The Jolly Boys Outing".

Fred Neil (album)

Fred Neil is the second album from Fred Neil, a pioneer folk rock musician. The album has a more laid-back sound than his debut, and contains his best-known songs; "Everybody's Talkin' " and "The Dolphins". It was re-released in 1969 under the title Everybody's Talkin' in response to the international success of the soundtrack of the movie Midnight Cowboy, which made a hit of the new title track for Harry Nilsson. Music journalist Richie Unterberger characterizes the album as Neil's "best", and it was listed in the first (2005) edition of the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die, edited by Robert Dimery.

The Ballad of You and Me and Pooneil

"The Ballad of You and Me and Pooneil" is a song by the American psychedelic rock band Jefferson Airplane. Written by Paul Kantner, the song initially appeared as an RCA Victor single, and then subsequently as the first track of their third album, After Bathing at Baxter's, in a substantially remixed version.The title of the song refers to Winnie the Pooh as well as the folk singer Fred Neil. Parts of the lyric are taken from A. A. Milne's first book of children's poetry, When We Were Very Young. The first four lines of both the first and last verses are taken almost word-for-word from the poem "Spring Morning" in the book. Another source was the Milne poem "Halfway Down", the origin of the third verse's lines "Halfway down the stair / Is a stair where I sit". Neil was a big influence on Paul Kantner, as were Milne's books.

Mojo described "The Ballad of You and Me and Pooneil" as a "robust harmony-drenched anthem" that was central to After Bathing at Baxter's. Live versions of the song typically began with an extended feedback segment by guitarist Jorma Kaukonen and included a bass guitar solo by Jack Casady after the second verse, often lasting several minutes. Both features are included in very abbreviated form on the studio recording.

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