Re: [Harp-L] Mel Lyman

Are there any other prospective about Lyman I am not aware of? I remember one conversation with the Late Bob Shatkin about him and he simply "spat on the floor" when he heard Mel Lyman's name. NO love lost between these men.

I have always enjoyed Lyman as a very original player, a guy who was trying his best to not sound like anyone else, and succeeding. The players in the Kweskin jug band were fantastic, and a clumsy harp player would have stood out.

I didn't love his style, but I liked and admired it, and he never got in the way. Too many otherwise good records are ruined by harp players who shouldn't have been on the session, either because harp was not their main instrument, or because too many producers think of harmonica as a glorified kazoo that anyone can play. Mel Lyman never ruined a recording that I heard him on.

The Lyman cult was disliked because people claimed that threats of violence common, and some people felt their friends really changed when they became part of it. This is all anecdotal, however. Rolling Stone wrote an article about it if I remember correctly, and it was not highly complimentary. Back in the 60's, if you had a cult everyone was supposed to be nice. Stories about intimidation from cults and deprogramming and whatever was more of a 70's thing.

A friend of mine encountered Mel Lyman on the streets of NYC hawking his "Boston Avatar" underground newspaper. He said they talked for quite a while, that Lyman was pleasant, intelligent and friendly and didn't try to get him to join a cult.

The Avatar was well-written as I remember it, but you never saw it again after the Rolling Stone piece. Maybe it had folded.

Googling "Mel Lyman Cult" gave this result:, which contains links to tons of materials including the Rolling Stone stuff. (I haven't re-read it. My memory may be totally wrong about it's take on Lyman.)

I just tried to read one of his editorials in the Avatar, and it contains decent writing and a whole lot of ranting that reduces its readability. He was clearly a very arrogant cat. It's not often remarked, but there were alot of arrogant people hanging around the hippy world in 1967.

In the end, the guy never did nuttin' to me but entertain, and he was a singular harp player, so yay for him.

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