I'm one of those young English boys who learned Woody's licks off Jack Elliott (and learned a lot more besides). He's got a strange way of telling the truth sometimes, but he always winds up telling it. Jack is the great catalyst — probably as nearly personally responsible for the British rock and roll explosion as Joe McCarthy (my theory is that we got all the good Americans when Joe started his witch-hunt). I live in Texas now. That's partly Woody's fault (I corresponded with Woody) and partly Leadbelly's and partly Jack's. I haven't seen him in all those years (though I have his records) and he wouldn't remember me amongst so many admirers, but it was through Jack's songs and his Topic albums that I first heard Woody's songs. Should you be in touch with him, say Hi and thanks. I'm still a pretty lousy guitar player, but what sounds good in it probably pretty much all comes from Jack.

My letters to Woody were sometimes, I know, 'keep on trucking' letters, because he was being hassled by Joe M, as was Pete Seeger. Woody would just send back little notes, sometimes with a line or two on them, on pages torn from school exercise books or legal pads, saying to keep on keeping on. So I knew Jack Elliott wasn't lying when he talked about Woody. In those days he almost went into a trance to become Woody — not for his whole set usually, but when he was discussing Guthrie or whatever. He and Derroll Adams were famous for the hardness of the liquor they could hold. I hope he hasn't stopped drinking and toking. Some of us have to prove to the younger generation that it is possible to survive into happy old age doing all the things their parents are telling them will bring them to no good.
I heard a whole thing on NPR a year or two back which managed not to mention what I would have called the saliencies of Woody's career in some three or four episodes. Him and Josh on stamps... Well.

Woody was damned because his guitar had the slogan 'This Machine Kills Fascists" on it while he was on minesweepers. They used this to prove he had to be a communist (anti-fascists have to be communists ?). In that same paranoia, which never got as bad in England, but was bad in certain circles, nonetheless, my boss at the publishing house I worked for decided I was a communist because I had a beard and sometimes wore sandals in the summer. The reason he didn't fire me was because he was convinced the Red Army was about to come marching up Fleet Street and I'd, of course, be a commissar and would take my revenge. That's the gospel truth.

It wasn't until the second album that I started taking [Dylan] seriously, him and his railroad cap. I have a picture of me at 16 wearing the nearest thing I could get to a railroad cap. Just like Woody. It was Dylan's and Simon & Garfunkel's copyrighting of traditional English songs that got a few people wondering about their public credentials. I'd like to see these 'radicals' given a crash course in ethics. Lonny Donnegan did it in the UK. 'If it wasn't for me,' he said, 'Woody's songs would be on the scrapheap.' That's why I can't stand him (or Van Morrison) but let's not start.

Jack was already admitting he wasn't a cowboy in London — in fact, you began to wonder how long he pretended! A stab at self-invention which didn't really work and which was never needed. I think he learned early that being Jack Elliott was all he had to be. A friend of mine who fronted a band called Mr Fox said he'd seen Jack and Derroll Adams drink serious-sized jars of medicinal alcohol and still keep playing. He said he thought Jack had turned yellow at one time, but that could me thinking of my cat, who has begun to look like my friend Graham Hall who at 30 was dying of scirrosis from booze in LA .
Michael Moorcock, prolific author of novels including Mother London and creator of fantasy genre-redefining characters such as Elric: "Although I make my living largely from it, I'm more like a mafiosa don, I don't get too close to the actual business." Additionally, "I was playing guitar in a whorehouse at the age of 15." and he later was a lyricist and guitarist for Hawkwind (among England's most long-lived heavy rock bands): "I noted Johnny Rotten bullshitted about Cheltenham, which they did after us. He made it seem a heavy gig. Cheltenham maximum security prison was one of the sweetest gigs in the country."