“Spider” John Koerner (born August 31, 1938, in Rochester, New York, United States) is an American guitarist, singer, and songwriter. He is best known as a guitarist and vocalist in the blues trio Koerner, Ray & Glover, with Dave Ray and Tony Glover. He has also made albums as a solo performer and with Willie Murphy.
Koerner grew up in Rochester, New York, and after a brief military service attended the University of Minnesota. He intended to major in engineering but soon became involved in the Minneapolis music scene, where he met Dave Ray and Tony Glover. They formed a loose-knit trio, releasing albums under the name Koerner, Ray & Glover. The group gained notice with their first album, Blues, Rags and Hollers, originally released by Audiophile in 1963 and re-released by Elektra Records later that year.
Koerner was an early influence on Bob Dylan, who mentioned Koerner in his autobiography, Chronicles. Speaking of the early 1960s, Koerner later said, “We were all goofy, you know. We were thinkers and drinkers and artists and players, and Dylan was one of us. He was another guy.”
In 1965, Koerner recorded his first solo album, Spider Blues, for Elektra and appeared at the Newport Folk Festival accompanied by Glover. He continued playing on the folk circuit and joined with Willie Murphy to record Running, Jumping, Standing Still in 1969. The duo eventually split up, and Koerner pursued an unsuccessful career in filmmaking, retiring from music and moving to Copenhagen, Denmark. He later returned to music in the traditional folk genre and continued to perform and release new albums from time to time. He now lives in Minneapolis and has two sons and a daughter.
Spider Blues is the debut solo album by blues artist “Spider” John Koerner, released in 1965. He was member of the loose-knit blues trio Koerner, Ray & Glover at the time of its release.
As a member of the blues trio Koerner, Ray & Glover, Koerner was recording on the Elektra label. While recording the trio’s albums Lots More Blues, Rags and Hollers and The Return of Koerner, Ray & Glover, he recorded a number of solo tracks. These tracks were assembled into Koerner’s debut solo album. He also appeared at the Newport Folk Festival that same year, accompanied by trio member Tony Glover.
In his subsequent releases, his style changed as he turned from the blues to traditional folk music. In a 2000 interview, Koerner said, “I finally decided I was not a blues guy. How could I be? I was too young and too white, all that shit. So I took a year off and when I started playing again, I treated the subject in general as folk music. It’s a new culture; it’s not music being made on a back porch anymore.”
In his 1965 Jazz Monthly review, music critic Albert McCarthy excoriated the album and wrote, “This is, without any doubt, one of the worst records I have had to review for many a long day. In a sleeve note notable for the inane quotes from Koerner himself, Paul Nelson of The Little Sandy Review, which I understand is one of the better folk publications, makes the remarkable claim that ‘Koerner’s art is like Chaplin’s, as great and lasting as it is entertaining’. I nominate this as the most absurd remark of the year in the sleeve note field. In fact, Koerner is a passably competent guitarist, a poor harmonica player and a quite dreadful singer. ”
On the other hand, in the mid-late 1960s radio station WBCN in Boston used to regularly play “Rent Party Rag” on the first of every month. (by wikipedia)
“Spider” John Koerner (guitar, harmonica, kazoo, vocals)
Tony “Little Sun” Glover – harmonica on 01., 04., + 13.)
01. Good Luck Child 2.07
02. I Want To Be Your Partner 3.07
03. Nice Legs 2.27
04. Spider Blues 2.17
05. Corrina 3.15
06. Shortnin’ Bread 2.08
07. Ramblin’ and Tumblin’ 3.12
08. Delia Holmes 2.54
09. Need A Woman 2.05
10. I Want to Do Something 3.35
11. Baby, Don’t Come Back 2.39
12. Hal C. Blake 1.42
13. Things Ain’t Right 3.30
14. Rent Party Rag 9.29
All songs written by “Spider” John Koerner