Died July 7, 2001 at the age of 64.Date: Thu, 16 Mar 1995 22:30:01 -0600
Fred Neil was one of the great village performer songwriters of the 1960's, one of the finest songwriters (Dylan aside) this country has produced in the past 30 years. (Among other compositions, he wrote music for the movie Midnight Cowboy, "Everybody's Talkin at Me," and was recorded by the lovin spoonful and Peter Paul and Mary ("the other side to this life," and Ritchie Havens (Searching for the Dolphins and a few others. But he was an extrordinary singer with great phrasing a deep mellow voice and a very bad drug habit that threatened to kill him. He also was cut up into about 250 percent by various managers and was unable to see his way clear to continue with his recording performing career.
The last I heard, he was/is in Orlando Florida, doing private things, playing very, very rarely, coping, staying out of the limelight. For awhile, I thought about personally going there to find him to interview him, or perhaps try to to bring him back out, through my aunt who manages Ritchie, or through some of his old friends from the village days. But I was discouraged from doing this. "Leave him be," said someone who knew him when, "if he could handle it he would have come back long time ago."
I have two tape recordings of his work. Some of it ranks very close to the best of my Dylan collection. Fred Neil. A truly great talent and a someone too few people have ever heard perform.
From what little I know, Fred Neil upped stakes from NYC, quit a protracted habit and moved to Florida where he sailed & swam. Probably still living off royalties from "Everybody's Talkin". In Neilson's version the lyric just sounds like showbiz schmaltz ; when you know it's a literal transcription of his nautical activities Fred Neil's is a whole other thing (though it's still not a favourite of mine). Personally, I like his Dolphins.
Used to hang out at Fred's place in Coconut Grove in the late '70s & early '80s. Fuzzy Samuel (bass player to CSN&Y among many others - including myself) would take me over there and we sit around and talk about Fred's next recording project or song. Sometimes he'd play. There's was always a guitar and a tape player handy, and usually someone to play and sing if Fred wasn't in the mood.
He did some nice things for me, not the least of which was introducing me to Hy Shore, my friend and biz partner for many years.
I understand someone just released a CD of his stuff. Good on them! "I'm going where the sun keeps shining, thru that pourin'rain..."
Fred Neil Chronology