1973 Loudon Wainwright III – Dead Skunk

1973 Loudon Wainwright III – Dead Skunk

Loudon Wainwright III was born in North Carolina and grew up in Westchester County, just north of New York City. His father played piano and exposed Loudon and his siblings to unusual recordings, such as comedian Stan Freberg. His father was also a fan of Tom Lehrer, who was responsible for some very satiric songs on the US television show That Was The Week That Was.

Loudon learned to play guitar while in school, but when he moved to San Francisco, he sold his guitar to pay for yoga lessons. After moving back to the East Coast in the late sixties, he bought a guitar and began writing his own songs. He began playing in clubs in Boston and New York City and signed a recording contract with Atlantic Records. His first album came out in 1970 and featured the kind of comedic and/or satiric lyrics that would spring up during most of his career.

His one and only hit record came in 1972 when he recorded Dead Skunk. The single took its own sweet time climbing up the charts and peaked at #16 on the Hot 100 in the Spring of 1973.

Loudon began a second career In 1974. He appeared in three episodes of the M*A*S*H television show as Captain Calvin Spalding, the singing surgeon. He has since appeared in dozens of television shows and movies, often acting as a singer of some sort.

Probably some time in the early eighties, Loudon served as David Letterman’s first musical sidekick. There are few details on how long that relationship lasted, or even on which incarnation of David’s show was involved. David and Loudon also both showed up on the same show as guests of Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show on July 13, 1984.

Loudon’s first wife was Kate McGarrigle, a folk singer/songwriter. They had two kids who also became singer/songwriters, and Loudon has another daughter who is also a singer.

Loudon has recorded at least twenty albums and four live albums. He recorded his most recent album in 2017 and is hard at work on finishing another one.

His most recent commentary on modern times is the aptly named song, Toilet Roll Blues.


I have collected older articles about Lost or Forgotten Oldies in my books.

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