John B Sebastian

John B Sebastian

John B Sebastian

Happy birthday to you
March 17, 1944
Lovin Spoonful John Benson Sebastian
2013-08-15 Richie Havens Memorial Service @ Bethel Woods Center for the Arts (photo by J Shelley)
John B Sebastian

Another Greenwich Villager

The common thread to the story that many musicians of the 1960s share is that they moved to Greenwich Village in New York City to be part of its burgeoning folk scene and Bohemian lifestyle.

John Benson Sebastian didn’t have to move there. He was born there to a father who played classical harmonica and a mother who wrote for a radio program.

Early Villagers such as Burl Ives and Woody Guthrie visited his home regularly, so it was no surprise when he became part of the Even Dozen Jug Band. From that platform others observed his skills on guitar, harmonica and autoharp. Soon he accompanied artists such as Fred Neil, Tim Hardin, Jesse Colin Young, Tom Rush, Mississippi John Hurt, Judy Collins, and Bob Dylan.

John B Sebastian

Lovin’ Spoonful

It was the Lovin’ Spoonful and “Do You Believe In Magic” that brought Sebastian national recognition. Here is a live performance of that song from 1965. How many of you remember wondering what that thing he was playing?

John B Sebastian

Solo Sebastian

John Sebastian left the group in 1968 to go solo and other than an occasional return to the group format (J-Band), he continued and continues to perform as such. Of course, he also continues to be in demand as an accompanist.

John B Sebastian

Woodstock Sebastian

One of his most famous moments was his unscheduled performance at the Woodstock Music and Art Fair. After the Festival’s laborious delivery on Friday, Saturday dawned damp and the organizers faced a worrisome day.

The band Quill opened but the stage crew needed time to set up the next scheduled group. Organizers “volunteered” Country Joe McDonald and borrowed a strapless guitar (he found a piece of rope).  Santana’s awesome set followed McDonald’s rousing songs, but again time was needed for Keef Hartley to set up.

 John was living in Woodstock  and wandered to Bethel to party. A much larger party than he or anyone realized was going to happen.

John was volunteered and filled in admirably.

John B Sebastian

Welcome back John

His second moment of national fame came in 1976,  when he had an unexpected #1 single with “Welcome Back”, the theme song to the sitcom Welcome Back, Kotter.

As part of the Lovin’ Spoonful, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000.

John continues to live in Woodstock, NY (“Where Woodstock is, but not where Woodstock was.”) and regularly shows up to play at Levon Helm’s Barn.

And in 2021 he helped promote the refurbished  Bearsville Studio with a wonderful video.

Also in 2021, he and Arlen Roth released John Sebastian and Arlen Roth Explore the Spoonful Songbook.

4 thoughts on “John B Sebastian”

  1. I always enjoyed his music and met him once at a musicians swap meet in Woodstock in 1987…he’s a lovely man…Happy Birthday John!…💚🎉🎊

  2. From David Egan … what I call a ‘vibe musician’ ; had his fingers on many musical pulses in his glorious, salad days starting out from the Village to California and then back eastward settling in Woodstock, appropriately many would say. A treasure.

  3. From John Sweeney: Never knew he was born on St. PADDYS DAY,circa 1964 he taught me to play Do you believe in magic on the steps of the Night Owl Cafe in Greenwich Village on a Saturday afternoon,they would pass the hat to get paid!!!So they passed it after every song,those were the days!

  4. From Dori Mazur: My favorite Solo Album is “The Four of Us ” … Met him back in the,early 90s and mentioned that I Loved this Album , And he told me that it was a Favorite of his Also….. What a Great Guy and a Day I’ll Never Forget….. ☺ Happy Birthday John !!!!

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