Loudon Wainwright III

born on 5/9/1946 in Chapel Hill, NC, United States

Loudon Wainwright III

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Loudon Wainwright III

Loudon Snowden Wainwright III (born September 5, 1946) is a Grammy Award-winning American songwriter, folk singer, humorist, and actor. He is the father of musicians Rufus Wainwright, Martha Wainwright and Lucy Wainwright Roche, brother of Sloan Wainwright, and the former husband of the late folk singer Kate McGarrigle.

To date, Wainwright has released 22 studio albums. Reflecting upon his career, in 1999, Wainwright stated "you could characterize the catalog as somewhat checkered, although I prefer to think of it as a tapestry."[1]

Early life

Wainwright was born in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, the son of Martha Taylor, a yoga teacher, and Loudon Wainwright, Jr., a columnist and editor for Life magazine.[2] His father was not a professional musician but he did play piano and wrote some songs, exposing his children to musicians such as Tom Lehrer and Stan Freberg who were later cited as influences.[3] Wainwright grew up in Bedford, New York, in Westchester County. Among his sisters is Sloan Wainwright, also a singer. He graduated from St. Andrew's School in Delaware. He is a descendant of Peter Stuyvesant, the last Director-General of New Netherland[4] (present-day New York State).


Wainwright's career began in the late 1960s. He had played the guitar while in school but later sold it for yoga lessons while living in San Francisco. Later, in Rhode Island, Wainwright's grandmother got him a job working in a boatyard. An old lobsterman named Edgar inspired him to borrow a friend's guitar and write his first song, "Edgar". Wainwright soon bought his own guitar and in about a year wrote nearly twenty songs. He went to Boston and New York City to play in folk clubs and was eventually "discovered" by Milton Kramer, who became his manager. He acquired a record deal with Atlantic Records, who released his first album in 1970.

Wainwright is perhaps best known for the 1972 novelty song "Dead Skunk (in the Middle of the Road)" and for playing Captain Calvin Spalding (the "singing surgeon") on the American television show, M*A*S*H. His appearances spanned three episodes in its third season (1974-1975), including the episode "Rainbow Bridge".[5]

Using a witty, self-mocking style, Wainwright has recorded over twenty albums on eleven different labels. Three of his albums have been nominated for Grammy Awards: I'm Alright (1985) and More Love Songs (1986).[6] In January 2010, he won the Grammy for Best Traditional Folk Album for High Wide & Handsome: The Charlie Poole Project.

Wainwright has also appeared in a number of films, including small parts in The Aviator, Big Fish, Elizabethtown, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, and Knocked Up, and the television series Undeclared and Parks and Recreation.[5] In the UK he recorded sessions for John Peel from 1971 onwards and appeared on a simultaneous broadcast on BBC TV and on Radio 1 in February 1978 (known as Sight and Sound in Concert).[7] However, it was in the late 1980s that he gained much wider popularity in Britain when he appeared as the resident singer with comedian Jasper Carrott in his UK show, Carrott Confidential, and has remained popular in the UK ever since.

He appeared as a musical guest on Saturday Night Live in the first season's 5th episode, which was broadcast on November 15, 1975. He performed "Bicentennial" and "Unrequited to the Nth Degree" as a guest to Robert Klein.

Wainwright has claimed that, like many of his contemporaries, he was inspired musically by seeing Bob Dylan at the Newport Folk Festival in 1963. He was one of many young folksingers tagged as the "new Dylan" in the early 1970s, a fact that he later ruefully satirized in his song, "Talking New Bob Dylan", from History (1992).[6]

Wainwright was also a judge for the 4th annual Independent Music Awards.[8]

According to his own liner notes, Wainwright entered a period of deep depression following the death of his mother in 1997 and believed he could never write again. Retreating to his mother's cabin in the woods, he underwent therapy and gradually recovered, eventually recording the soul-baring Last Man on Earth in 2001. Since then his recording career has mostly returned to its previous frequency.

In September 2006, Wainwright and musician Joe Henry began composing the music to the Judd Apatow film, Knocked Up, which was released on June 1, 2007. In addition to composing the soundtrack, Wainwright appeared in the film in a supporting role as the protagonists' obstetrician.[9] He has also composed music for the new theatre production of Carl Hiaasen's Lucky You, which premiered at the 2008 Edinburgh Festival Fringe.[10]

Wainwright released a new studio album, Older Than My Old Man Now, in April 2012.

Personal life

Wainwright's first marriage was to singer/songwriter Kate McGarrigle. During their marriage, which ended in divorce, they had two children, Rufus and Martha. Rufus was the inspiration behind two of Wainwright's songs; "Rufus is a Tit Man" (referring to Rufus during breastfeeding), and "A Father and a Son", a retrospective. Wainwright's songs inspired by Martha are "Pretty Little Martha" (composed about her as an infant), "Five Years Old", (about her fifth birthday), and the brutally honest "Hitting You" (about her teenage years).

Both Rufus and Martha have become singer/songwriters. Rufus composed "Dinner at Eight" about his conflicted relationship with his father.[11] Martha composed the song "Bloody Mother Fucking Asshole" about, according to her, her father.[12] They sang a duet together on the song "Father Daughter Dialogue" (on Wainwright's 1995 album Grown Man), and collaborated on the song "You Never Phone" (on Wainwright's 2003 album So Damn Happy).

Wainwright's second marriage was to singer Suzzy Roche. During their marriage, which also ended in divorce, they had one daughter, singer Lucy Wainwright Roche.

Wainwright was married a third time in 2005, to actress Ritamarie Kelly; they have a daughter Alexandra (Lexie) Kelly Wainwright (born 1992).[13][14]


Studio albums

  • Loudon Wainwright III (1970)
  • Album II (1971)
  • Album III (1972)
  • Attempted Mustache (1973)
  • Unrequited (1975)
  • T Shirt (1976)
  • Final Exam (1978)
  • Fame and Wealth (1983)
  • I'm Alright (1985)
  • More Love Songs (1986)
  • Therapy (1989)
  • History (1992)
  • Grown Man (1995)
  • Little Ship (1997)
  • Social Studies (1999)
  • Last Man on Earth (2001)
  • Here Come the Choppers (2005)
  • Strange Weirdos (2007)
  • Recovery (2008)
  • High Wide & Handsome: The Charlie Poole Project (2009)
  • 10 Songs for the New Depression (2010)
  • Older Than My Old Man Now (2012)

Live albums

  • A Live One (1979)
  • Career Moves (1993)
  • So Damn Happy (2003)


  • One Man Guy: The Best of Loudon Wainwright III 1982-1986 (1994)
  • The BBC Sessions (1998)
  • 40 Odd Years (2011)


  • "Dead Skunk" / "Needless to Say" (1973) (U.S. Pop #16)
  • "Down Drinking at the Bar" / "I Am the Way" (1974)
  • "Five Years Old" / "Rambunctious" (1983, Demon)
  • "Five years old" / "The Grammy song" (1983, Rounder)
  • "Cardboard Boxes" / "Colours" (1985, Demon)
  • "Unhappy Anniversary" / "The Acid Song" (1986, Demon)
  • "Thank You, Girl" (John Hiatt) / "My Girl" (with John Hiatt) (1987)
  • "Your Mother and I" / "At the End of a Long Lonely Day" (with John Hiatt) (1987)
  • "T.S.D.H.A.V." / "Nice Guys" (1989, Silvertone)
  • "Jesse Don't Like It" (live) / "T.S.D.H.A.V." (live) (1990, Hannibal)
  • "Silent Night, Holy Night" (Terry Callier) / "The Little Drummer Boy" (John Scofield & Loudon Wainwright) Verve records, 1999
  • "Y2K" (Rykodisc, 1999)
  • "Nanny" (Evangeline, 2005)

Promotional discs

  • "Bell bottom pants"-mono / "Bell bottom pants"-stereo, 1973, Columbia 45 rpm
  • "The Swimming song"-stereo / "The Swimming song"-mono", 1973 Columbia 45 rpm
  • "Bicentennial"-mono / "Bicentennial"-stereo, 1976 Arista 45 rpm
  • "This year" -one sided disc, 1988 Silvertone 45 rpm
  • "Y2K" 6 track radio edits of the song "Y2K" Rykodisc
  • "History promo #1" Talking new Bob Dylan, Hitting you, People in love, Virgin, 1992
  • "History promo #2" The Doctor, When I'm at your house, So many songs, Men, Virgin, 1992
  • "History promo #3" People in love, Virgin, 1992
  • "Career moves" promo, Suddenly it's Christmas, Virgin, 1993
  • "Grown man" promo, 1994, IWIWAL (I wish I was a lesbian, Cobwebs, Grown man, Virgin, 1995
  • "Little ship" promo, Mr. Ambivalent, Virgin, 1997
  • "So Damn Happy" promo No. 1, Something for nothing", Sanctuary, 2003
  • "So damn happy" promo No. 2, The Picture, The Shit song (Radio edit) You never phone, Sanctuary records, 2003
  • "Daughter" from Strange weirdos, Concord records, 2007


  • The New Age of Atlantic "Motel Blues" (1972)
  • Earl Scruggs Review Anniversary Special, Volume One "Swimming Song", "Gospel Ship" (1975)
  • Nyon Folk Festival "The Waitress Song" (1979)
  • Feed the Folk "Outsidey" (1985)
  • The Slugger's Wife Soundtrack "Hey, Hey, My My" (with Rebecca De Mornay) (1985)
  • From Hell to Obscurity "Colours", "At the End of a Long Lonely Day" (with John Hiatt), "My Girl" (with John Hiatt) (1989)
  • Super Hits of the '70s: Have a Nice Day, Vol. 10 "Dead Skunk" (1990, Rhino)
  • 70s Greatest Rock, Vol. 10: Hitchin' a Ride "Dead Skunk" (1991, Priority)
  • Dr. Demento Presents..., Vol. 4: The 1970s "Dead Skunk"
  • Signed, Sealed, Delivered "Virgin 21" (1994, Virgin, UK)
  • Life in the Folk Lane II "Hard Day on the Planet" (1994, Diablo/Demon)
  • Beat the Retreat: Songs by Richard Thompson "A Heart Needs a Home" (with Shawn Colvin) (1995, Capitol)
  • Troubadours of Folk, Vol. 4: The '70s "Old Friend" (1995, Rhino)
  • Golfs Greatest Hits "Golfin' Blues" (1996, Teed Off Records, distributed by BMG)
  • The Best of Mountain Stage, Volume 1 "Bill of Goods" (1996, Blue Plate Music)
  • Mellow Rock Hits of the '70s: Sundown "Glad to See You've Got Religion" (1997, Rhino)
  • Soft Rock Classics "Glad to See You've Got Religion" (1998, Rhino)
  • KBCO Studio C, Volume 4 "Cardboard Boxes" (KBCO)
  • Family Album "The Picture" (1998, Gadfly)
  • Best of the Cambridge Folk Festival, 1977-1997 Medley: "The Swimming Song/Pretty Little Martha/Dump the Dog" (1998)
  • Welcome to High Sierra "Primrose Hill" (1998, High Sierra)
  • Bleecker Street "Pack Up Your Sorrows" (with Iris DeMent) (1999, Astor Place)
  • Live at the World Café - Volume 9 (1999) "Sunday Times"
  • Seka Sister, Volume 2 "Pretty Good Day" (2000, Twah!)
  • Si Dolce "I am the Way", "The Last Day", "Road Ode", "Five Years Old" (2000)
  • 28 Days Soundtrack "Heaven and Mud", "Drinking Song", "White Winos", "Dreaming" (2000, Uni/Varèse Sarabande)
  • Washington Square Memoirs: The Great Urban Folk Boom (1950-1970) "School Days" (2001, Rhino)
  • Love Songs For New York: Wish You Were Here "No Sure Way" (2002, Megaforce)
  • 107.1 KGSR Radio Austin Broadcasts Vol.10 (2002) "No Sure Way"
  • The Aviator: Music From The Motion Picture "After You've Gone" (2004) [Columbia/Sony Music Soundtrax]
  • Golden Slumbers: A Father's Love "Daughter" (2005, Rendezvous)
  • Rogue's Gallery: Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs, and Chanteys "Turkish Revelry", "Good Ship Venus" (2006, ANTI-)
  • Boardwalk Empire Volume 1: Music From The HBO Original Series
  • Boardwalk Empire Volume 2: Music From The HBO Original Series


  • M*A*S*H (1975) (TV) .... Capt. Calvin Spaulding, the singing surgeon
  • The T.V. Show (1979) (TV) .... Dead Man on Telethon/Spinal Tap Keyboardist
  • The Slugger's Wife (1985) .... Gary
  • Jacknife (1989) .... Ferretti
  • 28 Days (2000) .... Guitar guy
  • Undeclared (2001) (TV) .... Hal Karp
  • Big Fish (2003) .... Beamen
  • The Aviator (2004) .... Coconut Grove Vocalist No. 2
  • The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005) .... Priest
  • Elizabethtown (2005) .... Uncle Dale
  • For Your Consideration (2006) .... Nominee Ben Connelly
  • Knocked Up (2007) .... Dr. Everett Howard (also composed music)
  • G-Force (2009) .... Grandpa Goodman
  • Parks and Recreation (2009) (TV) .... Barry, a nutso community-forum attendee (Episode 1)
  • Person of Interest (TV series) (2012) (TV) .... Mr. Frey, father of Hanna - the woman who Reese thought was looking for the machine, but was found to be long dead.
  • Sleepwalk with Me (2012) .... Uncle Max


  1. Loudon Wainwright III. Lw3.com (June 20, 1999). Retrieved on April 9, 2012.
  2. Loudon Wainwright, III Biography (1946). Filmreference.com. Retrieved on 2014-03-19.
  3. Needles, Tim. Legendary Songwriter Loudon Wainwright III. Short and Sweet NYC. Retrieved on January 19, 2012.
  4. [Loudon Wainwright III at All Music Guide Loudon Wainwright III]. Allmusic. Retrieved on October 27, 2006.
  5. 5.0 5.1 imdb.com Loudon Wainwright III Retrieved October 6, 2008
  6. 6.0 6.1 Loudon Wainwright III Web Site: Bio. Retrieved on August 25, 2011.
  7. BFI Film & TV Database Retrieved January 16, 2011
  8. Independent Music Awards Past Judges.
  9. imdb.com Knocked Up Retrieved October 6, 2008
  10. Carl Hiaasen's Lucky You. Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Retrieved on July 16, 2008.
  11. Anthony DeCurtis, Rufus Wainwright Journeys to 'Gay Hell' and Back, August 31, 2003.
  12. Richard Jinman, The Guardian profile: The Wainwrights, April 15, 2005.
  13. John Seabrook, The Patriarch, September 21, 2009.
  14. Steve Dollar, Barking Up the Family Tree, May 15, 2012.

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