John Pilla Guitar Woodstock

John Pilla Guitar Woodstock

John Pilla Guitar Woodstock
John a “few” years ago

John Pilla’s internet footprint is a small one and what there is is usually associated as a guitarist with Arlo Guthrie. The reason I am doing a piece on John is because he played with Arlo at the Woodstock Music and Art Fair.

John Pilla Guitar Woodstock

Incidental references

There are some incidental references such as that made by Dr Eugene Beresin from a June 2012 Psychology Today post: “Growing up in the Philadelphia area, I spent a number of years working as a member of the grounds crew for the Philadelphia Folk Festival. As a teenager, I went to the Philly Folk Song Society, frequented the Main Point, and took guitar lessons from John Pilla, who backed up Doc Watson and Arlo Guthrie among others. In fact, I bought my first real guitar through John who got it from Fred Neil. John said it was an old beat up 1935 Martin, but I found out much later it was really made in 1956.”

John Pilla Guitar Woodstock

John Pilla Guitar Woodstock

All Music dot com

John’s AllMusic credits are also mainly associated with Guthrie, but not just as a guitarist. Pilla has also done photography for albums (e.g., Eric Andersen), engineered albums (e.g. 3 Penny Needle), and produced many of Arlo Guthrie’s albums. The discogs.com site has a similar description of John’s discography.  And an news article from years ago: John Pilla, also a native Philadephian, has, in his nine years as a guitarist, evolved from rock ‘n roll player to one of Philadelphia’s finest folk guitarists. John, who is also a songwriter, has just made a record with Doc Watson (who performed at Central last year) and it due to be released shortly. Previous to his becoming a solo performer and his work with Doc Watson, John was a member, along with Jerry Ricks, of the Johnson City Three. Locally, John has appeared at the 2nd of Autum, the Second Fret, and the Main Point, where he is now appearing with Doc Watson.

John Pilla Guitar Woodstock

You.tube

Here is John playing with Arlo and Doug Dillard. John is in the foreground.

John Pilla Guitar Woodstock

Bethel Woods

To read more about the Guthrie band at Woodstock, follow this link to Wade Lawrence’s WoodsTALK blog. Apparently, John died in 1988 of a heart attach, but if anyone has any more recent or expanded information about John, please comment below or email to woodstockwhisperer@gmail.com

John Pilla Guitar Woodstock

Guitar Woodstock, 

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5 thoughts on “John Pilla Guitar Woodstock”

  1. John has worked with several notable artists since Woodstock. He produced several Chaka Khan tunes and ventured into heavy metal. It’s not my thing and I can’t remember the bands, but he did some notable work. I was privileged to hear a bit of a rock opera that he produced. Patty La Belle sang the lead and it was quite powerful.

  2. The third member of the trio was Jay Roseman. John once quipped at the Main Point that I had been every where he stopped for a drink of water for several years!
    At one of the Philly Folk Festival he introduced me to “the guy who was replacing Chad Mitchell.” I was so focused on John, I barely caught John Denver’s name.
    Of his compositions I will always remember “Do You Know What It’s Like to be Lonely.”
    He introduced me to Doc, John Hurt and Arlo.
    I will never forget him!

  3. Late one Sunday night, circa 1968-70, on Gene Shay’s Philly radio show “Folklore”, John led a performance of “(In the) Big Sur Country” in the studio. I think it might have been a weekend when he was backing someone at the Main Point (Doc?), and after hearing a few bars, I recorded it with a mic in front of the radio, to my old Sears reel-to-reel. The tape’s long lost, but it was a beautiful performance, as I recall. Anybody else record it, who might still have a copy? John was a Philly legend around that time. I still wonder if that was him playing one of the Martins in Zapf’s one time …

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