Arlo Guthrie has been known to generations as a prolific songwriter, social commentator, master storyteller, actor and activist.
Born in Coney Island, New York in 1947, Arlo is the eldest son of Marjorie Mazia Guthrie, a professional dancer with the Martha Graham Company and founder of The Committee to Combat Huntington’s Disease, and America’s most beloved singer/writer/philosopher/artist Woody Guthrie. Arlo has become an iconic figure in folk music in his own right with a distinguished and varied career spanning over fifty years.
Growing up Guthrie, Arlo was surrounded by such renowned artists as Pete Seeger, Lee Hays, Ronnie Gilbert, Sonny Terry, Brownie McGhee, and Ramblin’ Jack Elliott to name only a few. Not surprisingly, Arlo drew from these in influences and he in turn became a delineative artist bridging generations of folk. He and Pete Seeger created a legendary collaboration that was sustained for over forty years. The last Pete & Arlo show was in November 30, 2013 at Carnegie Hall, only a few months before Pete passed away at the age of 94.
In 1965 a teenaged Guthrie performed a “friendly gesture” that proved to be fateful. Arlo was arrested for littering, leading him to be deemed “not moral enough to join the army.” Guthrie attained international attention at age 19 by recounting the true events on the album Alice’s Restaurant in 1967. The Alice’s Restaurant Massacree, an 18-minute and 20-second partially sung comic monologue opposing the war and the backward reasoning of authority, has become an anti-establishment anthem and an essential part of Thanksgiving on rock stations receiving worldwide airplay. Alice’s Restaurant achieved platinum status and was made into a movie in 1969, in which Arlo played himself, by the esteemed director Arthur Penn. 1969 also brought Arlo to the rock festival of the ages – Woodstock. His appearance showcased Arlo’s chart-topping Coming Into Los Angeles, which was included on the multi-platinum Woodstock soundtrack and movie.
Beginning the seventies with a number of albums for Warner Bros., Guthrie helped set the standard for the singer-songwriter genre burgeoning at the time. Perhaps the best known is Hobo’s Lullaby (1972) featuring a diverse body of work. Most notable is the definitive version of Steve Goodman’s The City of New Orleans that was a hit on all major charts. Another critically acclaimed album that charted on Billboard was Amigo (1976), which includes Massachusetts, honored in 1981 as the of official State Folk Song.
Taking complete creative control, Arlo left the major record label system in 1983 to fulfill his career as a truly independent artist, and established Rising Son Records, one of the first indie labels in existence. Rising Son is still in active operation serving as his record and production company. To date Rising Son Records has released over twenty titles of Arlo’s, both all new material and re-mastered versions of his classic records including the Grammy nominated Woody’s 20 Grow Big Songs (1991) featuring Arlo and his family, and In Times Like These (2007), recorded with the University of Kentucky Symphony Orchestra. Alice’s Restaurant 50th Anniversary (2016), a 2 CD set, captures the magic of that historic tour at one of Arlo’s hometown stops at The Colonial Theatre in The Berkshires. The Anniversary show was broadcast nationwide on PBS on Thanksgiving 2015. Released the same year, Arlo Guthrie: The First 50 Years (Exceptin’ Alice), is a limited edition 2 CD set with a full-color hardcover book of personal photographs and reminiscences. The Best Of All Over The World (2016), Guthrie’s latest offering, is a 2 CD set of his best-loved songs, plus an additional track of Arlo with The Guthrie Family.
In addition to his musical career, Guthrie is an accomplished actor with numerous television appearances. Arlo has had recurring roles in two major network television series (The Byrds of Paradise and Relativity), and feature films, the aforementioned Alice’s Restaurant and Roadside Prophets (1992). Arlo is the author of four children’s books and a distinguished photographer, showing his works in selected galleries.
Inspired by his parents’ activism, Arlo bought the old Trinity Church (“the” church) that is now home to The Guthrie Center and The Guthrie Foundation. Named for his parents, The Guthrie Center is a not-for-profit interfaith church foundation dedicated to providing a wide range of local and international services. The Guthrie Foundation is a separate not-for-profit educational organization that addresses issues such as the environment, health care, cultural preservation and educational exchange. In 2009 Arlo was awarded the ASCAP Foundation Champion Award for making a difference through social action on behalf of worthwhile causes and demonstrating exceptional efforts in humanitarianism.