Bob Lind has enjoyed a sizable cult following based on a rather small body of work; he released just four albums between 1966 and 1971 (one a collection of demos never intended for commercial release), and landed just one single in the Top 40, but he's acknowledged as one of the key artists in the '60s folk-rock boom, and over 200 different artists have recorded his songs.
Robert Neale Lind was born in Baltimore, Maryland on November 25, 1944. His family moved a great deal when he was young, but as a teenager he settled in Denver, Colorado and began singing rock & roll and rhythm & blues when he was in eighth grade. In high school, Lind formed a band called the Moonlighters, and while attending Western State University in Gunnison, Colorado, he led a rock group, Bob Lind & the Misfits, specializing in early rock covers. As a new breed of songwriters emerged on the folk music scene in the early '60s, Lind took up songwriting and started playing occasional shows at local coffee houses. He relocated to San Francisco, where he continued writing songs and playing small venues, and in 1965, he headed south to Los Angeles, where he scored an audition with World Pacific Records, a subsidiary of Liberty Records. World Pacific signed Lind to a record contract, and after he landed a publishing deal with Metric Music, he was introduced to producer and arranger Jack Nitzsche, who liked Lind's songs and agreed to work with him. With Nitzsche providing artful backdrops for Lind's emotionally literate songs, the two proved to be an inspired pairing in the studio, and World Pacific had high hopes for Lind's first single, "Cheryl's Goin' Home." However, several disc jockeys began playing the flipside, "Elusive Butterfly," and the song rose to number five on the Billboard Singles charts in 1966.
Lind's debut album, Don't Be Concerned, was released shortly afterwards, which also featured "Elusive Butterfly"'s follow-up, "Remember the Rain" b/w "Truly Julie's Blues," which peaked at number 65 in the United States. A second album, Photographs of Feeling, also produced by Nitzsche, was released by World Pacific by the end of the year, while Verve-Folkways issued an album called The Elusive Bob Lind, which featured early unreleased demos overdubbed with new accompaniment without Lind's input. By Lind's own admission, he developed a powerful taste for alcohol and drugs once "Elusive Butterfly" made him a celebrity, and he became angry and difficult to work with; he severed ties with Nitzsche, and was dropped by World Pacific after a pair of unsuccessful singles. He briefly retired from music and moved to New Mexico, but recorded a new album in 1971 at the behest of Doug Weston, who ran the successful Los Angeles music club The Troubadour. 1971's Since There Were Circles was an accomplished set of folk-infused country-rock, but Capitol Records put little promotional effort behind it, and after it tanked in the marketplace, Lind once again turned his back on the music business.
Lind moved to Florida, gave up drinking and drugs, and began working as a writer, penning novels and screenplays while also contributing to the surreal tabloid the Weekly World News. Meanwhile, other artists continued to cover his songs, and his small body of work earned a following both in America and abroad; Jarvis Cocker paid homage to Lind in the song "Bob Lind (The Only Way Is Down)" on Pulp's 2001 album We Love Life, and Richard Hawley has cited Lind as an influence. Lind continued to write songs during his time away from the spotlight, and in 2004, he booked a small show at the Luna Star Café in North Miami. The show was well received, and Lind was soon invited by his longtime friend Arlo Guthrie to perform at the Guthrie Center in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. Since then, Lind has resumed regular touring, playing clubs in the United States, and theaters and festivals in United Kingdom, while the majority of his back catalog has been reissued on CD. In 2006, Lind released a limited-edition live album from one of his periodic Miami shows, Live at the Luna Star Café, and after collaborating on new recordings with Jamie Hoover of the Spongetones, Lind released a fresh studio album, Finding You Again, in 2012. Four years later, Lind returned with an ambitious studio project, Magellan Was Wrong, which found him working with Hoover again, as well as jazz and R&B artist Greg Foat and experimental noise musician Frank "Rat Bastard" Falestra. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi