Tucker Zimmerman is to make a rare London appearance this Friday (with Jason Steel) at the Green Note in London followed by an appearance at Bristol Folk Festival on Sunday as part of Ghosts from the Basement along with Wizz Jones, Ben Mandelson and Ian A. Anderson (The False Beards), Nancy Wallace and Jason Steel.
Veteran US singer/ songwriter Tucker Zimmerman has a cult following in the UK through his early albums, and the adoption of some of his songs by others – most famously his Taoist Tale recorded by Nic Jones, Chris Wood, Martin Carthy and Maggie Holland, and Oregon written for Derroll Adams and recorded by the English Country Blues Band and others.
Born in San Francisco, Zimmerman was both classically trained and performed in a high school rock’n’roll band for local weddings and school dances, before studying theory and composition at San Francisco State College. In 1965 he began writing songs – to date he has written over 800. In 1966 he received a Fulbright Scholarship to study composition in Italy and began to perform his solo songs in folk clubs in Rome.
In 1968 he left the academic world and moved to London where he began to seriously pursue his songwriting and singing. He lived in England for two years, first in London and then in Oxford, playing gigs under assumed names, posing as a Canadian, since he was not granted a work permit. He also worked in various recording studios as an arranger and musician.
In 1969 he recorded his first album, produced by Tony Visconti (David Bowie, T.Rex etc) for EMI. In 1970 he moved to Belgium where he lives to the present day, self-producing his eponymous second LP (known as “the black album”) which was released in the UK on the now very collectable Village Thing label. From then until 1984 he played hundreds of solo concerts all over Europe, especially in Belgium, Switzerland and Germany, where he is still regarded as a “song poet”, recording 5 more LPs.
From 1984 until 1996 he stopped touring as a solo performer and only rarely appeared in public for single concerts. His creative output then divided into two media: musical composition (including 25 scores for films, over 20 pieces of studio engineered synthesiser work, and several large scale composition for choir, orchestra, chamber ensembles and solo piano) and writing of fiction (including ten novels and two collections of poetry).
His first UK appearance for more than three decades came in 2010 when he appeared at the Ghosts From The Basement day at London’s Cecil Sharp House, celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Village Thing label and the release of the compilation of the same title. Taking advantage of that visit, BBC Radio 3 commissioned a special collaboration project between Tucker and English singer/guitarist Jason Steel (read our Jason Steel interview here) for the Late Junction programme (BBC Link).
Tucker Zimmerman & Jason Steel at The Green Note, London
Also this Sunday 6th May at Bristol Folk Festival:
Ghosts From The Basement featuring – Wizz Jones, Tucker Zimmerman, Ben Mandelson and Ian A. Anderson (The False Beards), Nancy Wallace and Jason Steel.