In 1965, a teenaged Guthrie performed a “friendly gesture” that proved to be fateful. Arrested for littering, Arlo was deemed “not moral enough to join the army” and recounted these events on the album ‘Alice’s Restaurant’ in 1967. The “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree”, 18 minute and 20 seconds partially sung comic monologue opposing the war and the backward reasoning of authority has become a quintessential anti-establishment anthem.
Born in Coney Island, New York in 1947, Arlo is the eldest son of America’s most beloved and multi-talented Woody Guthrie. Growing up Arlo was surrounded by such renowned artists as Pete Seeger, Lee Hays, Ronnie Gilbert, Sonny Terry, Brownie McGhee, and Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, to name only a few. Not surprisingly, Arlo drew from these influences and he, in turn, became a delineative artist, bridging generations of folk with songs of protest and social justice.
"A great reminder of just how effective a bit of absurdity can be when it comes
combating serious issues." - Rolling Stone
"An hour and a half in the presence of Guthrie is like receiving the most enjoyable and authoritative master class on 20th-century American folk music one could possibly have”. – The Independent, London
Folk songs enduring many decades of change only become classics when storylines remain just as relevant today as they were when originally composed. 'Alice's Restaurant' is of this ilk. Lampooning the Vietnam War draft, it was weaved into the fabric of the 60s counter-culture, a tradition of US radio airplay during Thanksgiving and applicable even against the current political climate, with a touch of humour.
‘Alice’s Restaurant’ achieved platinum status and was made into a movie in 1969 (in which Arlo played himself) by the esteemed Oscar-nominated director Arthur Penn. 1969 also brought Arlo to the rock festival of the ages – Woodstock, showcasing his chart-topping “Coming Into Los Angeles”, which was included on the multi-platinum Woodstock soundtrack and movie.
Arlo Guthrie has become an iconic figure in folk music with a distinguished and varied career spanning almost sixty years, touring almost constantly alone, with friends or family. Classically styled folk songs intermingled with clever storytelling and a keen sense of humour remain his trademark, in addition to his broad musical accomplishments.
Since the first time he performed in public in 1961 at the age of 13, and after almost sixty years of shows, Arlo Guthrie, now in his 70s, has become an American folk elder—a keeper of the flame.