In Memoriam:

Lou Gottlieb


Lou Gottlieb passed away on Thursday, July 11, 1996. I didn't know Lou except to remember him from the halcyon days at Wheeler's Ranch when he showed up for the large gatherings. Lou was royalty, and I but a peon (a naked one at that, hard to believe!) We owed our existence to Lou Gottlieb, and Bill Wheeler, and all the others who had forged the free land movement. I had come to California looking for the Diggers, and ended up living as one, even though I didn't make the connection until later. Connections is what it all seems to be about — and Lou was one of those people who makes them happen, rather than sitting back and waiting until they take place.

Ramon Sender is the archivist of the Free Land Movement. He wrote me a note about Lou, and is the contact person for anyone who wants to make further connection with his passing. Ramon organized the memorial get-together that Lou's friends held. You can reach Ramon at 415-821-2090.

I would like to put up some pictures of Morningstar or Wheeler's or copies of the Morningstar book. If anyone has any such items, the Digger Archives would make a good home for them.

—Eric Noble

Here's the message from Ramon Sender:

Hi Eric: I'm sure you've heard by now that Lou Gottlieb passed away Thursday. I've got a page about it that I thought perhaps you could post. There'll be more stuff a-comin' also, if you can use it. I think Sonoma State Univ is interested in creating an archive for Morning Star/WHeeler Ranch stuff. I'm overwhelmed with photos that need to be scanned, and other mindless work (I'm sure you understand completely!). I'll be hearing soon if this is going to happen.

Here's the page on Lou:

Lou Gottlieb, bass player for the well-known folk singing trio, The Limeliters, died after a short illness on Thursday July 11, at 11:42 A.M. at Palm Drive hospital in Sebastopol, California, at the age of 72. Along with tenor Glenn Yarbrough and bass Alex Hassilev, Lou toured the States entertaining 'folk' enthusiasts with such hits as "Have Some Madeira, My Dear," "Gari-Gari," and "There's A Meetin' Here Tonight." He also played in the 1968 movie "I Love You Alice B. Toklas" with Peter Sellers. He grew up in La Crescenta, completed his B.A. at UCLA, then sang with "The Gateway Singers," whom he left to take a Ph.D. in music at U.C. Berkeley in 1958.

In July, 1959, The Limeliters appeared as a trio for the first time at the "hungry i" in San Francisco, with Lou as "the comic-arranger- musicologist, Glenn the golden-voiced tenor and guitarist, and Alex the instrumental virtuoso" (to quote from one of their song collections, "Cheek In Our Tongue"). San Francisco music critic John Wasserman said the Limeliters "attained a stature equalled perhaps only by the Kingston Trio and the Weavers." The group's biggest hit was "A Dollar Down" in 1961, but was well known for its 15 records albums and its concerts during the 1960s. A near-fatal plane crash in Colorado in December, 1962, and the strain of a life constantly on the road caused Lou to retire from the trio.

After a brief stint reviewing concerts for the "San Francisco Chronicle," he moved to Morning Star Ranch, his 30-acre ranch in Sonoma County, in 1966. Folk singer Malvina Reynolds and her husband Bud had alerted him to the property ("I also saw an ad in the KPFA folio," he said). "I walked the place over and said, 'Where do I sign?'") Many people will remember fondly "The Digger Farm," as it came to be called, and the impact Lou had as the "resident piano player," as he referred to himself.

Next of Kin are: his first wife Lee Hartz of El Cerrito, daughter Judith Gottlieb Spector of Berkeley, and sons Tony Gottlieb of Nashville and Bill Gottlieb of Manhattan, and four grandchildren. Donations can be made "The Sweet Relief Musicians Fund," which offers help to musicians in medical emergencies: 11301 West Olympic Blvd, Box 494, Los Angeles, CA, 90064.

A memorial get-together is planned for July 28th, 10 A.M. at Morning Star Ranch outside Occidental, California. Try to carpool from the Occidental parking areas.

For more information:

Ramon Sender (archivist): 415 821 2090
(granddaughter): 707 795 1269
(roommate) 707 874 1778

The Digger Archives is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Cite As: The Digger Archives ( / CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 / All other uses must receive permission. Contact: curator at diggers dot org.