47 Facts About Alan Lomax


Alan Lomax was an American ethnomusicologist, best known for his numerous field recordings of folk music of the 20th century.


Alan Lomax was a musician himself, as well as a folklorist, archivist, writer, scholar, political activist, oral historian, and film-maker.


Alan Lomax collected material first with his father, folklorist and collector John Lomax, and later alone and with others, Lomax recorded thousands of songs and interviews for the Archive of American Folk Song, of which he was the director, at the Library of Congress on aluminum and acetate discs.


Alan Lomax devoted much of the latter part of his life to advocating what he called Cultural Equity, which he sought to put on a solid theoretical foundation through to his Cantometrics research.


Alan Lomax excelled at Terrill and then transferred to the Choate School in Connecticut for a year, graduating eighth in his class at age 15 in 1930.


Alan Lomax joined and wrote a few columns for the school paper, The Daily Texan but resigned when it refused to publish an editorial he had written on birth control.


Alan Lomax enrolled in philosophy and physics and pursued a long-distance informal reading course in Plato and the Pre-Socratics with University of Texas professor Albert P Brogan.


Alan Lomax became involved in radical politics and came down with pneumonia.


Alan Lomax married Elizabeth Harold Goodman, then a student at the University of Texas, in February 1937.


From 1937 to 1942, Alan Lomax was Assistant in Charge of the Archive of Folk Song of the Library of Congress to which he and his father and numerous collaborators contributed more than ten thousand field recordings.


In late 1939, Alan Lomax hosted two series on CBS's nationally broadcast American School of the Air, called American Folk Song and Wellsprings of Music, both music appreciation courses that aired daily in the schools and were supposed to highlight links between American folk and classical orchestral music.


In February 1941, Lomax spoke and gave a demonstration of his program along with talks by Nelson A Rockefeller from the Pan American Union, and the president of the American Museum of Natural History, at a global conference in Mexico of a thousand broadcasters CBS had sponsored to launch its worldwide programming initiative.


Alan Lomax was a key participant in the V D Radio Project in 1949, creating a number of "ballad dramas" featuring country and gospel superstars, including Roy Acuff, Woody Guthrie, Hank Williams, and Sister Rosetta Tharpe, that aimed to convince men and women suffering from syphilis to seek treatment.


Alan Lomax never told his family exactly why he went to Europe, only that he was developing a library of world folk music for Columbia.


Alan Lomax spent the 1950s based in London, from where he edited the 18-volume Columbia World Library of Folk and Primitive Music, an anthology issued on newly invented LP records.


Alan Lomax drew a parallel between photography and field recording:.


In Scotland, Alan Lomax is credited with being an inspiration for the School of Scottish Studies, founded in 1951, the year of his first visit there.


Alan Lomax had met 20-year-old English folk singer Shirley Collins while living in London.


Alan Lomax wished to marry Collins but when the recording trip was over, she returned to England and married Austin John Marshall.


Alan Lomax was a consultant to Carl Sagan for the Voyager Golden Record sent into space on the 1977 Voyager Spacecraft to represent the music of the earth.


Alan Lomax brought pieces so compelling and beautiful that we gave in to his suggestions more often than I would have thought possible.


Alan Lomax died in Safety Harbor, Florida on July 19,2002, at the age of 87.


Alan Lomax recognized that folklore occurs at the local and not the national level and flourishes not in isolation but in fruitful interplay with other cultures.


Some, such as Richard Dorson, objected that scholars shouldn't act as cultural arbiters, but Alan Lomax believed it would be unethical to stand idly by as the magnificent variety of the world's cultures and languages was "grayed out" by centralized commercial entertainment and educational systems.


In 1983, Alan Lomax founded The Association for Cultural Equity.


From 1942 to 1979 Alan Lomax was repeatedly investigated and interviewed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, although nothing incriminating was ever discovered and the investigation was eventually abandoned.


The investigation appears to have started when an anonymous informant reported overhearing Alan Lomax's father telling guests in 1941 about what he considered his son's communist sympathies.


Alan Lomax had been charged with disturbing the peace and fined $25.


Nevertheless, the bureau continued trying vainly to show that in 1932 Alan Lomax had either distributed Communist literature or made public speeches in support of the Communist Party.


Alan Lomax must have felt it necessary to address the suspicions.


Alan Lomax gave a sworn statement to an FBI agent on April 3,1942, denying both of these charges.


Alan Lomax explained his arrest while at Harvard as the result of police overreaction.


Alan Lomax said he and his colleagues agreed to stop their protest when police asked them to, but that he was grabbed by a couple of policemen as he was walking away.


In withdrawing him, the elder Alan Lomax had probably wanted to separate his son from new political associates that he considered undesirable.


In June 1942 the FBI approached the Librarian of Congress, Archibald McLeish, in an attempt to have Alan Lomax fired as Assistant in Charge of the Library's Archive of American Folk Song.


At the time, Alan Lomax was preparing for a field trip to the Mississippi Delta on behalf of the Library, where he would make landmark recordings of Muddy Waters, Son House, and David "Honeyboy" Edwards, among others.


Subsequently, Alan Lomax was one of the performers listed in the publication Red Channels as a possible Communist sympathizer and was consequently blacklisted from working in US entertainment industries.


Correspondence ensued with the American authorities as to Alan Lomax' suspected membership of the Communist Party, though no positive proof is found on this file.


The Service took the view that Alan Lomax' work compiling his collections of world folk music gave him a legitimate reason to contact the attache, and that while his views were undoubtedly left wing, there was no need for any specific action against him.


The FBI file notes that Alan Lomax stood 6 feet tall, weighed 240 pounds and was 64 at the time:.


Alan Lomax resisted the FBI's attempts to interview him about the impersonation charges, but he finally met with agents at his home in November 1979.


Alan Lomax denied that he'd been involved in the matter but did note that he'd been in New Hampshire in July 1979, visiting a film editor about a documentary.


Alan Lomax received the National Medal of Arts from President Ronald Reagan in 1986; a Library of Congress Living Legend Award in 2000; and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Philosophy from Tulane University in 2001.


Alan Lomax won the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Ralph J Gleason Music Book Award in 1993 for his book The Land Where the Blues Began, connecting the story of the origins of blues music with the prevalence of forced labor in the pre-World War II South.


Alan Lomax received a posthumous Grammy Trustees Award for his lifetime achievements in 2003.


Brian Eno wrote of Alan Lomax's later recording career in his notes to accompany an anthology of Alan Lomax's world recordings:.


Alan Lomax spent the last 20 years of his life working on an interactive multimedia educational computer project he called the Global Jukebox, which included 5,000 hours of sound recordings, 400,000 feet of film, 3,000 videotapes, and 5,000 photographs.